Visiting Toledo, Spain: Fabulous UNESCO World Heritage Site - WanderWisdom - Travel
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Visiting Toledo, Spain: Fabulous UNESCO World Heritage Site

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Panorama of the Toledo Skyline in Spain at sunrise. On the left is the Alcázar of Toledo and on the right is the Cathedral of Toledo.

Panorama of the Toledo Skyline in Spain at sunrise. On the left is the Alcázar of Toledo and on the right is the Cathedral of Toledo.

Historic and Beautiful Toledo

In July of 1992, my husband and I decided to take a one-day tour of Toledo from Madrid, Spain, where we were vacationing. A book we had purchased, authored by Rick Steves, informed us ahead of time that this UNESCO World Heritage Site would be well worth our time.

Having a guide is always helpful when visiting a new location, and all I can say is that if you ever get the chance, put Toledo high up on your list of places to visit.
One day gave us a distinctive flavor of the historical significance of Toledo. Still, it would have been wonderful to have had more time to explore more of its many endless wonders and experience more of its history by delving into its spirited past.
And an impressive past Toledo has had!

Centuries of History

After traveling through the countryside of Spain by bus, we approached Toledo, which is just 70 kilometers south of Madrid. Toledo is surrounded on almost three sides by the Tagus River, which forms a natural moat.

Dating back many centuries, Toledo is a historic and walled city and has gone through many occupations of conquerors. Not only is its history redolent with tales of various occupiers, but its architecture speaks to those many influences as well. Christian, Jewish, and Moorish designs have all had their impact. Often buildings changed hands and were continued to be built upon with many of the past influences left in place.

Like the city of Rome, Toledo was built on seven hills. It was the first capital of Spain. The landmass inside the walls is only 89.59 square miles or 232.1 kilometers. Almost all the historic buildings, including places of worship and the royal residence, were inside the walls. Outside of the walls were many private gardens and summer residences, and today the suburbs continue to spread in that fashion.

World Heritage Site

In 1986, UNESCO declared Toledo to be a World Heritage Site. Part of the reason is that for many years the three cultures shared their lives. They lived peaceably with each other overcoming racial differences and working together for the common good.

Through the centuries, fires destroyed some of the buildings, but most were rebuilt and refurbished. Today the newer buildings blend in with the old and maintain a specific character of ancient Toledo.

Tourism is a big part of their industry, as one might imagine. Few places like this exist in the world. By visiting sites like this, we can get a glimpse into the past.

Toledo Cathedral

The Cathedral is one of the towering edifices in Toledo. It is a tourist attraction worth visiting for anyone visiting that area. Originally an old Visigoth church was on that site and built on top of that was the largest Moorish mosque in Toledo. In the year 1086, it became a Christian church.

Taking two and a half centuries to build, one can realize the different artistic expressions utilized during that long-time construction process. Two unequal sized towers are one result. It isn't easy to see the full majesty of the structure from any one vantage point.

Catholic Church Influence and Art

The most considerable majority of monuments in Toledo attracting tourists from far and wide are religious. The Catholic Church has played a significant role in making Toledo a Holy City only second to the influence of the Vatican in Rome.

Concentrated wealth in bygone eras helped create this proliferation of churches, monasteries, religious schools, convents, chapels, and other buildings. The entire city of Toledo is like a gigantic museum. Art, architectural wonders, and medieval influences like the cobblestones, walls, and gates of this city could keep one engaged in discoveries for a good while.

Even after the capital of Spain was moved from Toledo to Madrid, ecclesiastical power remained in Toledo for a long time. Artists like El Greco and others were attracted to living and working in these environs. There are a vast number of El Greco's paintings that still reside in Toledo today.

Rick Steves Talking About the Artist El Greco

Visit If You Get the Chance!

A one-day tour such as we had was an excellent introduction to this most fascinating of ancient cities. I envied the people that stayed there a little longer to roam the twisting streets and make additional discoveries while they soaked up the atmosphere. I hope this gives you a snapshot of what there is to see and do while in Toledo, Spain. We merely scratched the surface!

Suggestion: Take the time to view some of these videos if you wish to see and learn more about this historic and beautiful city.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 05, 2018:

Hi Mary,

I would have loved getting to spend more time in Toledo as you got to do. It is so historic and lovely! Thanks for your comment.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 05, 2018:

Hi Peggy. I am enjoying following your trip. We were in Toledo for several days and enjoyed the history even driving around some of the small villages.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 27, 2012:

Hi thedigger,

Yes, travel is fun and educational as well. Thanks for commenting on this Toledo, Spain hub. Have you visited there or is it on your wish list?

thedigger from New Delhi on June 27, 2012:

Beautiful pictures. I love travel and don't want to miss any destination. You commented on my hub so I returned back to check whether any interesting thing for me in your profile or not and found lots of travel related hubs.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 11, 2012:

Hi Vinaya,

Nice to know from your comment that you enjoyed this virtual tour of the historic city of Toledo, Spain. Thanks!

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on April 11, 2012:

Thanks for this comprehensive introduction to Toledo.

I enjoyed the virtual tour.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 18, 2012:

Hi alocsin,

It would be wonderful to be able to spend a few days in Toledo, Spain getting to see all of the historic buildings, art, etc. and just taking the time to soak up the ambiance as one strolls through those ancient streets. Glad you liked this. Thanks for your comment.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 18, 2012:

Thanks for bringing back the memories. There's so much to see in Toledo that I ended up staying the night. Having the map is helpful for orientation. Voting this Up and Useful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 30, 2011:

Hello hafeezrm,

Like you, what we got to see of Spain just made us want to see more. Glad that I could introduce you to Toledo with these pictures. Any World Heritage Site is always worth a visit! Thanks for your comment.

hafeezrm from Pakistan on March 29, 2011:

Last year, I went to Spain and toured many cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Quruba and Granda. After reading you hub, I realize what I have missed. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 05, 2011:

Hi Mrs. J.B.,

We did have a fabulous time while touring the World Heritage site of Toledo, Spain. Glad that you liked the pictures. Hope you get to go and see it in person someday! Thanks for the comment.

Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on March 05, 2011:

The pictures are beautiful. I would love to go there one day. It sounds like you had a fabulous time.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 31, 2010:

Hello Tony,

So happy that you got a sense of what visiting Toledo, Spain would be like from these pictures and words. Any World Heritage Site is always worth a visit! There are so many beautiful places in the world and since we cannot personally visit all of them in person, it is wonderful to be able to view and see them from other people's experiences. I love seeing your part of the world through your eyes and experiences!

Tony McGregor from South Africa on December 30, 2010:

I really enjoyed this "virtual" tour of Toledo, a place I would love to visit in "reality"! Since that is not likely to happen anytime soon this Hub has given me all the pleasure of a visit!

Thanks so much for sharing all the information and your lovely pix!

Love and peace

Tony

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 27, 2010:

Hello leyzaa,

I hope you get to visit Toledo, Spain someday also. It is an amazing place! Thanks for the visit and comment.

leyzaa on December 27, 2010:

Amazing, I hope sometimes go to Toledo

leyzaa on December 27, 2010:

Amazing, I hope sometimes go to Toledo

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 07, 2010:

Hello katrinasui,

Thanks for this virtual visit to Toledo in Spain. Glad you liked the pictures. Anything designated as a World Heritage Site is always worth a visit! Appreciated the comment.

katrinasui on December 07, 2010:

Great hub! pictures are beautiful as usual.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 14, 2010:

Hi Billy,

One of the very few private duty patients that I ever took care of went on a 3 month journey to Europe with her daughter as a graduation present to the daughter. They had 2 weeks remaining and were tired and almost skipped Spain, but went ahead and stayed. She told me that Spain was their favorite part of the entire trip! That always stuck in my mind for some reason. All I can say is that what we saw of Spain in the 12 days of our trip...we loved. Toledo is certainly a historic town and I only wish we could have spent more time there. Guess that is always a good sign...wanting to spend more time in a place.

It will be great to have your boys with you who speak the language! I spoke only a few elementary words of Spanish, but it saved the day once enabling us to catch the airplane in time from Barcelona to Mallorca!

Thanks for the comment.

billyaustindillon on August 14, 2010:

I have never been to this part of the world and look forward to visiting it one day - you have many hubs on Spain that make the trip easier to plan. Both my sons are learning spanish so when they are older they can take their parents :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 30, 2010:

Hi Trish,

You lucky soul! Sounds great! Will look forward to your hub about the Costa Brava and one later on (when you visit) Toledo. Summer is coming up soon. Enjoy!

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on March 30, 2010:

Definitely!

But I think that it will be the Costa Brava this summer :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 25, 2010:

Hi again Trish_M,

If you visit Toledo, Spain in the future, please come back and let me know your thoughts. Thanks! Perhaps write your own hub about it?

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on March 25, 2010:

Based on this hub and the great photos, I'm sure that you are right :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 01, 2010:

Hi Trish_M,

You must know that being a World Heritage Site, Toledo, Spain is well worth a visit. As a history buff, you will love it! Of that I am certain. Thanks for the visit.

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on March 01, 2010:

I've never been to Toledo. That is now on my list of places I want to see! Lovely photos!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 01, 2009:

Hi again Suki,

We were on a one day bus tour from Madrid and the restaurant they chose for us (where we had a meal prior to the tour of Toledo) left something to be desired. Heavy on the grease is our main memory. Guess we cannot aptly judge the food in the Toledo area from your Chinese restaurant and our experience on the tour.

If there are any folks reading this from the Toledo area...or people who have visited there...please chime in and let us know the BEST places to dine. Thanks! Am sure there are many.

Barbara C from Andalucia, Spain on October 31, 2009:

Well - thanks to your lovely photos I was able to see what we missed!!! It's something to look forward to next time.

One thing I do recall - we had the worst EVER Chinese meal in Toledo - but, of course, that's no reflection on the city itself :))

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 31, 2009:

Hello Suki C,

So happy that you liked my Toledo, Spain hub and especially since you have already visited there. Like you, I wish that my husband and I had more time to have enjoyed more of it. Since you now live in Spain, you will have a greater opportunity to enjoy more of Toledo someday. Perhaps you can even write about your experiences?

I loved reading about where you now live on the Costa del Sol.

Thanks for the comment.

Barbara C from Andalucia, Spain on October 31, 2009:

I loved this! My husband and discovered Toledo by happy accident last year on our annual trip back to the UK from our home in southern Spain. We wanted to avoid the nightmare of negotiating the motorway around Madrid so took a detour that ended up with us spending the night there.

We wish we could have stayed longer but we had to make Bilbao the next day to catch the ferry!

We will definitely return one day.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 04, 2009:

Greetings prashant nikam,

I am very pleased that you found this hub with pictures about Toledo, Spain to be of so much interest. Hope you get to visit there someday and see it for yourself. Thanks for commenting.

prashant nikam on October 03, 2009:

ps.nikam@rediffmail.com

this is my mail id Toledo i loving it

prashant on October 03, 2009:

i m from india,

i live @ maharashtra, nasik422101

I M SEACH A PLACE 4 VISITING

Toledo IS VERY nice place

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 05, 2009:

Hi Ethel, We loved what we had seen of Spain and would like to go back someday. Would also like to visit Portugal next time. If Seville looks like Toledo, I know we would like it. Thanks.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 05, 2009:

Have only visited Spain a couple of times, for days out, when in Portugal. Toledo seems to be a lot like Seville which we loved.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 23, 2009:

Hi Curious Traveller, Yes......do make the time to see Toledo. We spent 3 days in Madrid just getting an overview. Loved it. If you like art, the Prado Museum is fantastic. We spent a few hours on 2 different days seeing parts of it. We were on sensory overload! One would have to go many times and spend countless hours to even see it all.

Sometime will share some photos of Madrid, Barcelona and Maijorca. Thanks for your comment.

Curious Traveller from United Kingdom on April 23, 2009:

Hi, Peggy. Madrid is actually quite high on our "to visit" list and after viewing this fantastic Hub, it looks as though we should make the time to visit Toledo while we are there.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 09, 2009:

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Celesta. The flowerboxes and so much more was beautiful in Toledo.

Celesta on April 09, 2009:

Beautiful photos. I liked the flowerboxes on the balconies.

Nice Hub!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2009:

Thank you so much, Elynjo for the compliment and thanks for your comment.

Elynjo from Sin City on April 06, 2009:

Peggy! You did it again! The pictures and the hub are fantastic! I felt like I was touring with you :-)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2009:

Hello laringo,

It was quite an experience especially because it was our first trip to Europe. This was just one day out of many that would be seared into our memories. Happy to have shared these photos with you. Thanks for commenting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2009:

Hi G-Ma, So happy that this reminded you of a great time with your daughter in Switzerland. Does she live there?

We have a few cobblestoned streets in parts of America, but nothing like the old cities in Europe, not to mention the old buildings. Our country is too young to have these gorgeous buildings built over centuries of time.

What we have in comparison are the wide open spaces and a park system that is spectacular. That's why we go over there to visit and see ancient things, and they come over here to see all of our natural beauty.

This world of ours has so much beauty!!!

laringo from From Berkeley, California. on April 04, 2009:

Beautiful pictures. I can only imagine how you felt when surrounded by ancient buildings and landscape. Thanks for sharing these vacation pictures.

Merle Ann Johnson from NW in the land of the Free on April 04, 2009:

Wonderfully presented my dear and it reminds me of when I went to Switzerland (to visit my daughter)...the cobblestone walkways, the fountains in the towns and the Cathedral's were spectaculiar...I was in such AWWW in them,, way too beautiful...and the aire seemed so good...Loved the shops and the way they set things up,,,was the time of my life...well one of them...Thanks G-Ma :O) Hugs & Peace

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 04, 2009:

Hi Sally, What an impression that must have made waking up to that view at dawn! Thank you for sharing that memory.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 04, 2009:

It's been a long time since I've seen Toledo, but I remember the first time vividly. My traveling companion and I had driven during the night from Barcelona toward Toledo, and we were too tired to go on to our destination. We pulled the car over, wrapped ourselves in blankets, and fell asleep, sitting up in the car. When we awoke at daybreak, we saw the view in your first photo, gleaming in the morning sun against a crystal blue sky. We were freezing for the chill in the air, but we were also mesmerized. Thank you so much for the gorgeous pictures.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 04, 2009:

Hi Dottie, I know what you mean. Often the albums sit there for years without being enjoyed. Go pull yours out and ENJOY! Thanks for the comment.

Dottie1 from MA, USA on April 04, 2009:

I really enjoyed the view of Toledo from your wonderful snapshots. I have been to Spain years and years ago and this makes me want to go pull out some old photos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 04, 2009:

That is is, Kelley. Thanks for the comment. By the way, I have sent your hub regarding curing cancer to many people.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 04, 2009:

Hi Teresa,

Ah.......so you are one of those people I envy! (Smile) Having seen it I wish we could have spent more time there. Glad that this brought back some good memories for you, and thanks for commenting.

Kelley Eidem from Panama City, FL on April 04, 2009:

Absolutely georgeous!

Sheila from The Other Bangor on April 04, 2009:

I love Toledo -- have spent several happy days there, soaking in the atmosphere (and walking up and down those steep hills!) This is a lovely hub -- thank you so much for reminding me of the beauty and grandeur of the little town.