Toledo is the perfect day trip from Madrid, and was the home of the Spanish Court until being removed to Madrid in the 16th-century.
The History of the city
Rising high above the arid plains of Don Quixote’s Castile-La Mancha Toledo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 for its monumental and cultural heritage a city where Jews Christians and Arabs lived in harmony until the Reconquista of Iberian Peninsula by the Catholic Monarchs Isabella I and Ferdinand II whose marriage in 1469 united the crowns of Castile and Aragon forming a union between the two kingdoms and the beginning of what became known as the Spanish Inquisition where all Jews and Muslims were made to convert to Catholicism, yet still under the protection of the Moors in what was called the Emirate of Granada both Muslims and Jews were free to practice their religion until the Moors were expelled from Spain with the conquers Isabelle and Ferdinand issuing a decree giving all Jews and Muslims four months to leave taking all their belongings except for gold, silver and minted coinage.
Walking through the cobbled lanes of the old town you are reminded of the past where the three religions lived in peace. Toledo was in fact a city that welcomed scholars and artists including El Greco who came to live in Toledo due to the open mindedness of its citizens.
Toledo has been known for its swords for centuries with the Romans first arming their centurions with swords made from Toledo steel a much harder variety than the other form of steel known as Damascus.
From then on through the Crusades and the conquests of the Americas it was the Arms made in Toledo that everyone wanted to own, and even today the proud tradition of hand forged swords continues allowing you to take home one of the ultimate souvenir’s a Toledo Sword.
Getting to Toledo
The easiest way to visit Toledo is by train from Madrid’s Atocha station on one of Spain’s new high-speed trains for a journey time of 33 minutes making it possible to spend a half or a full-day in the former capital. Trains to and from Madrid run every fifty minutes with a round trip ticket costing 25€.
Where to go for lunch in Toledo
The cuisine of Castle-La Mancha is very much based on roast meats and wild game washed down with the local red wine, and being on the Madrid tourist trail you will find an array of restaurants some of which can be very expensive, yet for an up market menu del dia try Venta de Aires at Calle Circo Romano 35 where you can have a lovely three course lunch for 22€.
If that seems a little pricy there is a nice bar frequented by the locals called Bar El Telon Avenida Santa Barbara, 2 very close to the train station that does a menu del dia for only 8€. Toledo is a must see if you are visiting Madrid, and the perfect place to get your very own Knights Templar sword.