Saturday, September 27, 2014

Spain - Toledo, a Medieval City

As a video game lover, I've encountered many medieval-themed games. Castles, swords, knights... well, if you like these things, you will have to visit Toledo in Spain.

Overview of Toledo

I took a day off from my Madrid trip, as my friend suggested. Toledo is only half an hour away from Madrid by train. However, I highly recommend buying the train ticket in advance because there are a lot of people commuting to and from Madrid. It will not be surprising if you can't find tickets to go in the morning if you attempt to buy the ticket just before you ride the train.

This also means that you should - or I'd rather say, MUST - buy the return ticket in advance unless you are staying in Toledo for a night. 

Once you reached Toledo station, there is a tourist information centre where you can buy a wristband with access to 5 or 6 main attractions of Toledo. If I'm not wrong, you can also buy a combi ticket for the train ticket and the wristband at Atocha Renfe station in Madrid. I'm not sure if it would be cheaper, but in any case, you can still buy the wristband in Toledo station.

Toledo Station

Do you have to buy the wristband? Well, for sure, you'll save time queuing outside the main attractions. For some attractions, a guided tour is provided. So in the end, I think the wristband is worth getting.

The first attraction I entered was the cathedral.

What's interesting about this cathedral is that there are a lot of somewhat hidden rooms. Exploring the cathedral on your own feels like being in an RPG.

One of the 'hidden' rooms

As a foodie, tasting the local food is a must. I tried Toledanas, which are kind of like very crumbly almond cookies. They're yummy!

I enjoy looking at the buildings and walking up and down the alleys. Oh, that being said, PLEASE WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. And don't wear heels because they might get stuck between the stones on the ground.

The City Hall

You might think a library is too boring to visit, but not in Toledo.

If you enter the City Library (Biblioteca Publica del Estado), you can go to the 9th floor and have a great view of Toledo for free. Well, it would be nice to buy some drinks from the cafe up there.

 If you're not scared of heights, try visiting Iglesia del Salvador (included in the wristband). The church is very small and the design is pretty simple, but you could climb the bell tower.

Iglesia del Salvador

Iglesia del Salvador, bell tower view 1

Iglesia del Salvador, bell tower view 2

Iglesia del Salvador, bell tower view 3

Castilla-La Mancha Escuela de Arte

The synagogue, Sinagoga de Santa Maria la Blanca, is a little bit difficult to appreciate without a guide. Somehow I missed the guided tour, so I didn't really understand what to look out for except that the interior somewhat looked like an interior of a mosque.

The next one is actually a must-go place: Iglesia de San Ildefonso. Why? Because you can get the best view of Toledo from this church's tower.

The interior is not as grandeur as the Toledo cathedral, but the entrance to the tower is free.

The climb wasn't that bad: the stairs are large enough. It's definitely much easier than climbing the Basilica di San Pietro's dome in Vatican City.

I didn't bring a good camera with me, but even with my smart phone, the view from the tower is magnificent enough.

My last highlight of Toledo would be the city gate.

The city gate is accessible for free, but in order to climb up the gate, you have to have the wrist band combi ticket I mentioned at the beginning of the post. All in all, the combi ticket is worth the price. It saves you time from queuing for tickets (especially for the Cathedral), and you get guided tours at certain spots.

Again, the climb wasn't bad at all. It's a little bit cramped, but it's fine.

Toledo is a gorgeous place to visit!


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