TOLEDO - OCTOBER 1996
Toledo, the capital of the province of Toledo and of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha, is an interesting town located 70 km south of Madrid. It sits on a large hill, and is surrounded on three sides by the River Tagus. In 1986, it was included in the World Heritage Site List of the UNESCO. According to UNESCO, the reasons to include Toledo in the List were the following: «Successively a Roman municipium, the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of the Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors and, in the 16th century, the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V, Toledo is the repository of more than 2,000 years of history. Its masterpieces are the product of heterogeneous civilizations in an environment where the existence of three major religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – was a major factor». Many famous people and artists were born or lived in this city, including De La Vega, Alfonso X and El Greco.
"CALLE SANTA ISABEL - The old city retains its medieval road plan, with an irregular terrain and twisting streets. Here we are on our way to visit one of the must-sees in Toledo - the painting by Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco) known as «El Entierro del Conde de Orgaz» (The Burial of Count Orgaz), a masterpiece of painting! It's the biggest painting of the Spanish 16th century (4.8 x 3.6 meters). It represents an old legend: when in 1312 don Gonzalo Ruiz, count of Orgaz died, both Saint Stephen and Saint Augustine helped to bury the body inside this church owned by the count. The composition has two scenes: one terrestrial (the lower side of the painting) with the representations of contemporaries of El Greco (including his self-portrait and his son's portrait); and another celestial, on the upper half of the composition"
"CATHEDRAL - The Cathedral of Toledo, one of the three 13th century High Gothic cathedrals in Spain, is considered to be the masterpiece of the Gothic style in Spain. It was built on top of a Muslim mosque, and before that it had been a church in the sixth century during the reign of the Visigoth King Recaredo. Its construction started in 1226 during the reign of Fernando III and was concluded in 1493, when the vaults of the central nave were finished, during the times of the Fernando and Isabel"
"AYUNTAMIENTO - The City Hall, located next to the Cathedral, was built in 1575 when Baroque-style was taking over from the Renaissance-style. It resembles El Escorial as its builders were the same - Juan de Herrera, Nicolas de Vergara el Mozo, Juan Bautista Monegro and Jorge Manuel Theotokopoulos. It has two floors with impressive towers on each side with impressive spires"
"PLAZA and HOUSES - Toledo has several imposing plazas, as well as interesting houses"
"MONASTERIO DE SAN JUAN DE LOS REYES - An architectural jewel of the Spanish Gothic style whose outstanding features are the cloisters and the arched galleries. The ground floor houses numerous sculptures along with some fine carved stone reliefs depicting images of animals and vegetation. The upper storey has a richly decorated mudjar-style ceiling"
"MURALLAS - There were Walls to protect Toledo since the Romans and the Visigoth times, but the Muslims were those who, after capturing the city in 711, reinforced the old city walls to adapt them to their new military function as the frontier capital of the newly created Islamic State. The old Moorish wall still stands. It's still possible to see some remains of the Visigothic wall near the Puerta de Bisagra"
"BRIDGE - San Martin Bridge was built in 1203 to replace a previous bridge made out of wooden boats that was destroyed by floods. It too was partially demolished in the fourteenth century when the city was under siege during civil war in the Kingdom of Castilla but was restored shortly afterwards. San Martin Bridge has five arches and is flanked by two solid defensive towers with decorative facades"
"RIVER TAGUS, 1,038 km in length, is the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula. Its source is the Fuente de Garcia, in the Albarracin Mountains. After that, it runs through Aranjuez, Toledo, Talavera de la Reina and Alcantara in Spain, as well as Constancia and Santarem in Portugal to come to the Atlantic Ocean by Lisbon, where it has a magnificent estuary"