10 Things To Do
The best of Old and New. Toledo is one of Spain's oldest cities - rich with history, having been the long-time Spanish capital as well as an important centre of culture to the Romans, the Moors, Jews, Christians, and Visigoths. And yet, while steeped in rich history, modern Toledo embraces innovation and creativity - tangible in its active cultural and social scenes, which are all saturated with vibrant patrons and local zeal, welcoming visitors into a distinct and alluring community.
In the very core of the city, Toledo's Cathedral is a place of worship not only to faith, but to great artistic achievement as well. The ornate white limestone façade houses a magnificent collection of works by artists of world renown including Goya, Raphael, and local hero El Greco. Stunning inside and out, this is an unquestionable and obligatory must-see.
Sitting atop Toledo's highest hill, the Alcazar boasts the most sweeping and dramatic views of the city. At the Alcazar, rich history and imposing design combine with commanding views and grand scale to make it a place well worth discovering. Having served as a fortress in times of war, it now holds one of Europe's largest municipal libraries as well as Toledo's Military Museum.
Built by the Catholic monarchs to commemorate their victory over Afonso V of Portugal at the Battle of Toro, this 15th century monastery has a dramatic Mudejar style ceiling, cloisters, and three calming chapels. The main chapel is decorated with the coats of arms of the Catholic Monarchs supported by large eagles, and the granite façade on the exterior displays the chains of freed Christian prisoners.
The river Tagus encircles Toledo on three sides providing an exciting walkway. Take an hour of your time and set out on the route of Don Quixote. You will find picnic areas, fishing spots, rock-climbing adventurers and more. Tired yet? Cross the river on the free ferry (Thursday to Sunday) and walk up the hill to the Church of the Virgin of the Valley and enjoy panoramic views of Toledo.
Among the typically narrow and lively streets of Toledo's old Jewish quarter, lies the home of the famous local painter, sculptor, and architect El Greco. The museum's two buildings share a beautiful courtyard and house many of the artist's priceless works as well as a number of works by other 17th century Spanish painters.
Originally constructed by a Visigoth King in the year 674 AD, there are ten gates surrounding the interior of the old city of Toledo, each with a special and unique story to be told. It makes for a beautiful walk and, like everything else in Toledo, it's peppered with historically significant points of interest.
The main plaza of Toledo is named after the market that was once held here in Moorish times. It's still a hub of Toledan activity, branching out onto bustling Calle del Comercio – packed with tourists, shops, and cafés. While it is a major tourist magnet, it's also a popular meeting point for locals and travellers alike.
Outside the city walls, the Roman Circus of Toledo was built during the 1st century, likely under the rule of Rome's first Emperor, Augustus. While history lovers wait for current restoration projects to return the place to some semblance of its original form, the site still makes for a beautiful and relaxing stroll – whether or not its distant past is your point of interest.
The building is extremely beautiful and impressive from the outside, but the real treasures lie within its walls and Renaissance facades. Among works by El Greco, Titian, Rivera, and others, there are also remarkable tapestries, luxurious furniture and elegant 16th century décor. A small pharmacy museum is perhaps its most famous spectacle aside from the large marble sepulchre of Cardinal Tavera by Berruguete.
Just outside the narrow streets and city walls of Old Toledo, this iconic structure continues to host classic Spanish bullfights and still puts on some intense and impressive spectacles. And if bullfighting's not your thing, no worries – the place is also frequently host to festivals, cultural events, and concerts. The ring's construction reflects aspects of Moorish design and can hold roughly 9,000 people.