a lazy day in toledo: marzipan delicia, views from the alcazar, cristo de la luz, and night views of catedral de toledo

Friday, July 5:  This morning, I am once again annoyed by my habit of waking up at 5 a.m.  I lie in bed and check emails and mess around with my blog, but, eventually, I find myself getting drowsy.  I fall into a welcome slumber.  I must be exhausted because this doesn’t happen often.  I sleep until nearly 10:00. 🙂  Finally, my body is getting the hint that I’m on holiday.

I have to get up and get dressed, otherwise I’ll miss breakfast which is only served until 11.  I eat breakfast on the terrace right under the wire, and then I spend some more time lying around reading and relaxing.  I don’t know how much energy I have to tackle the sweltering streets of Toledo.  I decide I’ll go in search of Mezquita Cristo de la Luz, have a late lunch, and then come back to my room and nap.  I may as well: the afternoon siesta in Spain happens for a reason.  It’s too hot to do anything else. In the late afternoon all the shops are shuttered and the streets are quiet.  Only foolhardy people like myself wander about at these hours.  I think I’m finally learning to fall into the rhythms of life in Spain.

random bell tower on the streets of Toledo
random bell tower on the streets of Toledo

I wander through the streets and decide to walk up toward the Alcazar garage, where my car has been parked.  I ask them what time they open in the morning, because I want to get an early start tomorrow morning to drive to Malaga. They tell me they’re open 24 hours.  I also am debating driving to Consuegra to see the windmills.  I debate and debate and ultimately decide against it because Consuegra is right along the drive south.  Why bother driving there today?  I’ll just need to build in an extra hour to make a stop there.

random bell tower
random bell tower
random balconies
random balconies

I take some more photos of the Alcazar from the outside.

the alcazar revisited
the alcazar revisited
another view of the alcazar
another view of the alcazar
the alcazar
the alcazar

I then go up the elevator to the library to see the views from a small shabby cafeteria.  All I want to do is to take pictures, but the cafeteria people look at me like I’m an interloper since I’m not buying any food.  I think a place like the Alcazar should have a public viewing area; after all it’s the highest point in Toledo and could offer magnificent views.  But there’s only one small open window; the others are closed. Here’s what I see.

view from the library tower / cafeteria at the alcazar
view from the library tower / cafeteria at the alcazar
view of Toledo from the Alcazar
view of Toledo from the Alcazar
view of Toledo
view of Toledo

On my way back to Zocodover Plaza, I stop to sample one piece of Marzipan Delicia.  Toledo is famous for its marzipan, so I figure I should sample some while here.  It is quite delicia!

Marzipan Delicia
Marzipan Delicia
Marzipan
Marzipan

I continue strolling through the streets of Toledo.  I seem to be moving a lot slower lately.

streets of Toledo
streets of Toledo
Holy Toledo!
Holy Toledo!
a shop near my hotel and the Cathedral
a shop near my hotel and the Cathedral
more balconies
more balconies

I go back to my room after making a stop to buy two cute tops at a shop near my hotel.   I relax for a bit, then head back out to Mezquita Cristo de la Luz.

This 1,000-year old mosque was built in the Caliphate period.  Two centuries later, it was transformed into a church and an apse was added, following the Mudejar style of the old building.

Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita

By now it is nearly 2:00 and I want some respite from the heat and lunch.  I find this little restaurant, Posada El Cristo de la Luz.  It’s not air-conditioned, so I almost leave, but the owner is so charming, he convinces me to stay.  It is cooler than outside, and it becomes quite pleasant after I sit for awhile and rest near a fan.  I order a glass of chilled white wine because I plan to nap this afternoon.

lunchtime at Posada El Cristo de la Luz
lunchtime at Posada El Cristo de la Luz

I also order some Tagine because I think I overhear the word prawns, but it obviously does not have prawns.  It does have plenty of beef though.  It is so delicious, with it’s cinnamon flavored gravy, that I feel like each bite is a small taste of heaven.

Tagine and olives
Tagine and olives
me at lunchtime at Posada El Cristo de la Luz
me at lunchtime at Posada El Cristo de la Luz
me at Posada El Cristo de la Luz
me at Posada El Cristo de la Luz
Posada El Cristo de la Luz
Posada El Cristo de la Luz

On my way out, I ask the owner where he’s from and he says Aleppo, Syria.  He misses his country tremendously and fears for the safety of his family members.  Luckily, he’s safe in Spain.

Posada El Cristo de la Luz
Posada El Cristo de la Luz
the Syrian owner of Posada El Cristo de la Luz points to his hometown of Aleppo
the Syrian owner of Posada El Cristo de la Luz points to his hometown of Aleppo

After lunch, I go into the museum of Mezquita Cristo de la Luz and into the mosque.

Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita

The vaults are partial or total reproductions of the vaulted ceilings in the mosque of Cordoba, the capital of Al-Andalus.

Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita

The presbytery is decorated with Romanesque fresco paintings.  On the vault, Christ in Majesty is surrounded by the four symbols of the Evangelists.

Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
me at Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
me at Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
view of Toledo from Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
view of Toledo from Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
me at Cristo de la Luz Mezquita
me at Cristo de la Luz Mezquita

After visiting the mosque, I decide to return to my hotel and take a rest.  I actually take a nap for a couple of hours.  Only around 8:00 do I head back to Restaurant Alcazar, where I order a set menu of gazpacho, hake fish fried in batter with potatoes, accompanied by una cerveza and followed by flan for dessert, all for 10 euros.

Back at Restaurant Alcazar ~ Gazpacho
Back at Restaurant Alcazar ~ Gazpacho
Hake fish fried in batter with potatoes
Hake fish fried in batter with potatoes
Flan at Restaurant Alcazar
Flan at Restaurant Alcazar

Back at the hotel, I start preparing for my trip to Malaga tomorrow morning.  Before I go to sleep, I visit the hotel terrace to see the Cathedral all lit up.

Catedral de Toledo at night
Catedral de Toledo at night
Catedral de Toledo at night from my hotel balcony
Catedral de Toledo at night from my hotel balcony

It’s a lovely day, and I’m really glad I got a lot of rest.  I need to learn to relax more while traveling and not run myself into the ground. 🙂

the catedral de toledo & sinagoga del transito

Thursday, July 4:  From the Toledo City Tour bus, I’m deposited off a small square near the Alcazar, where I find this strange sculpture.

a sculpture in a small square near the Alcazar
a sculpture in a small square near the Alcazar

Then I tackle the colorful streets of Toledo in search of the Catedral de Toledo, which I know happens to be close to my hotel.

Streets of Toledo
Streets of Toledo

Spanish fans are for sale in many shops, but I love these lacy ones.

Lacy Spanish fans
Lacy Spanish fans

I come upon an entrance to the Catedral, but obviously this one isn’t the right one, as you can only walk into the entryway and you can’t proceed further because of a locked wrought iron gate inside.

the back entrance to Catedral de Toledo
the back entrance to Catedral de Toledo

As I walk around the other side of the immense Catedral, where the official entrance must be, I decide to stop and have a little Tortellini Finas Hiervas & Granizado de Limon at Bar El Rojas.

Tortellini Finas Hiervas & Granizado de Limon at Bar El Rojas
Tortellini Finas Hiervas & Granizado de Limon at Bar El Rojas

Finally I walk around to the other side of the Catedral, where I must pay 8 euros to get in.

The Holy Church Cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary in her Assumption to the heavens.  Construction began in 1227  over the foundations of the Visigoth Cathedral of the 6th century, which had been used as a mosque.  It’s constructed in a Gothic style with a French influence and is 120 meters long by 60 meters wide.  It contains 5 naves supported by 88 pillars and 72 vaults.

The Cathedral is the Mother Church of the diocese because it holds the chair or See of the Bishop.  The Eucharist and other liturgical celebrations are held here.

Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo

The main chapel is stunning, with its main altarpiece made of polychrome and golden wood, completed by numerous sculptors over a six-year period (1498-1504).  The atrium of the altarpiece is finished off with a huge Cavalry surrounded by a starry sky.

Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo

The Choir was built to accommodate the cathedral’s clergy.  A beautiful Gothic French sculpture from the 16th century called The White Blessed Virgin looks over the altar.

Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo

The lower stalls tell the story of Granada’s conquest.

Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo

The organ in the choir towers overhead.

Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo

I love this amazing painting in one of the domes.

Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo

After I finish at the Cathedral, I go back to my hotel to relax a bit.  All the shops seem to close in the late afternoon, much like they did in Oman, probably because of the high temperatures (100 degrees F) in the afternoon.  I’m exhausted and need to learn to slow down and take an afternoon off now and again.

my hotel: La Posada de Manolo
my hotel: La Posada de Manolo

Manolo at the front desk of the hotel.

La Posada de Manolo
La Posada de Manolo
La Posada de Manolo
La Posada de Manolo

I go out walking again to continue my stroll through history, in search of the two Jewish synagogues.  By the time I go back out in the afternoon, it’s sweltering.  I would have been better off had I come out later, as the sun was going down.  On the way to the synagogues, I pass by the cathedral again, as it’s right around the corner from my hotel.

Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo

I pass by more inviting balconies; I think everyone inside is still napping, which is the only thing one should be doing in this heat. 🙂

another inviting balcony
another inviting balcony

I walk to an overlook near the Rio Tajo.

Rio Tajo
Rio Tajo

Finally, after taking quite a convoluted path, I arrive at the synagogue of Samuel ha-Levi, also known as the Sinagoga del Transito, which houses the Museo Sefardi.  This synagogue was built in the mid-14th century.  When the Jews were expelled in 1492, the Catholic Monarchs ceded to the Order of Calatrava the “main synagogue the Jews had in Toledo, in exchange for the Alcazar and Palacios de Galiana with the Church of Santa Fe, possessions of this Order.”

By 1494, the building was no longer used as a synagogue and became part of the Priory of St. Benedict.

inside Sinagoga del Transito
inside Sinagoga del Transito
inside Sinagoga del Transito
inside Sinagoga del Transito
Sinagoga del Transito
Sinagoga del Transito

After I leave the Sinagoga del Transito, I head next to the beautiful Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes.

the alcázar & the toledo city tour

Thursday, July 4:  The next place I go on my walking tour is the Alcázar of Toledo, a stone fortification that sits at the highest part of Toledo.

Alcázar of Toledo
Alcázar of Toledo

In the third century, it was used as a Roman palace.  Abd ar-Rahman III built an al-qasr (fortress) here in the 10th century; it was later altered by the Christians, according to Lonely Planet Spain.

It was restored under Charles I and Philip II of Spain in the 1540s. In 1521, Hernan Cortes was received by Charles I at the Alcázar, following Cortes’ conquest of the Aztecs. (Wikipedia: Alcazar of Toledo)

The Alcázar was largely destroyed during the siege of Franco’s forces in 1936 but Franco had it rebuilt and turned into a military museum (Lonely Planet Spain).

inside the military museum of the Alcázar of Toledo
inside the military museum of the Alcázar of Toledo
inside the military museum of the Alcázar of Toledo
inside the military museum of the Alcázar of Toledo

It’s a bit strange going in this place because it’s just a huge military museum.  It’s easy to get lost!  Only when you first enter can you see some excavated ruins.  Otherwise, inside it’s just like any other museum.

Excavations at the Alcázar of Toledo
Excavations at the Alcázar of Toledo

There is no place to climb for a view unless you go through the library entrance and take an elevator up to a small, shabby cafeteria.

I’m not that interested in military history, so I find the whole thing a little disappointing.  My favorite part is taking pictures from the garden outside.

Alcázar of Toledo
Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
the view to some important-looking building from the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo
gardens at the Alcázar of Toledo

After leaving the museum, I get on the hop-on, hop-off Toledo City Tour for 9 euros.  Because of its narrow streets, Toledo is mostly a walking city.  The tour actually takes you out of the city and across the river, the Rio Tajo.  There really are not any real hop-on, hop-off options like in most cities.  The only positive to the tour is that it takes you across the river where you can get some amazing views of the city.

Toledo City Tour
Toledo City Tour
Toledo City Tour
Toledo City Tour

Our first stop on the Toledo City Tour is the train station in Toledo, built in the Neo-Mudéjar architectural style using horseshoe arches and abstract shaped brick ornamentation for the façades.

the Toledo train station
the Toledo train station
Toledo train station
Toledo train station
Toledo train station
Toledo train station

We then cross over the Rio Tajo.

Rio Tajo
Rio Tajo
Rio Tajo with the Alcázar of Toledo on its banks
Rio Tajo with the Alcázar of Toledo on its banks

We can see fabulous views of the Alcázar and Toledo’s skyline, including the Cathedral.

the Alcázar
the Alcázar
Rio Tajo
Rio Tajo
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
Cathedral
Cathedral
Rio Tajo
Rio Tajo
The Catedral and Alcázar
The Catedral and Alcázar
Catedral de Toledo
Catedral de Toledo
the Alcázar
the Alcázar
the Alcázar
the Alcázar
the Alcázar
the Alcázar
the Alcázar
the Alcázar
the Alcázar
the Alcázar
views of Toledo
views of Toledo
views of Toledo
views of Toledo
views of Toledo
views of Toledo
views of hillside homes in Toledo
views of hillside homes in Toledo
views of hillside homes in Toledo
views of hillside homes in Toledo

We can also see the San Juan de los Reyes Franciscan Monastery.

a view of San Juan de los Reyes Franciscan monastery
a view of San Juan de los Reyes Franciscan monastery
bridge over Rio Tajo
bridge over Rio Tajo
bridge over Rio Tajo
bridge over Rio Tajo
bridge over Rio Tajo
bridge over Rio Tajo
bridge over Rio Tajo
bridge over Rio Tajo
Views of Toledo
Views of Toledo

After I hop off the bus tour, I head through the streets of the city in search of the Catedral de Toledo.

toledo: a stroll through history {plaza de zocodover, arco de la sangre & museo de santa cruz}

Thursday, July 4:  I normally wake up every morning at 4:30-5 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep.  While on this trip, I have still been waking up at 4:30 or 5, but after I get up and mess around on my blog or read emails, I find myself getting sleepy again.   I allow myself the luxury to drift off again.  This morning, I do the same, wake up early, then fall back to sleep, waking for the second time at 8:30, which is pretty nice for me. 🙂  I love being on vacation.  I really don’t have to get up at all if I don’t feel like it!

Breakfast is served at La Posada de Manolo from 8:30-11, so I shower and go up to the terrace where I have a wonderful view of Catedral de Toledo.  I have some coffee, eat some cold cuts (which seem to be the norm for breakfast in Spain, at least in the two places where I’ve stayed), drink some orange juice and enjoy the view from the terrace.

view of Catedral de Toledo from the terrace of La Posada de Manolo
view of Catedral de Toledo from the terrace of La Posada de Manolo
view of Toledo from my hotel terrace
view of Toledo from my hotel terrace
the Cathedral from my terrace
the Cathedral from my terrace
the Cathedral
the Cathedral
breakfast buffet at La Posada de Manolo
breakfast buffet at La Posada de Manolo
breakfast
breakfast

I head out to walk, following Lonely Planet Spain‘s Walking Tour: A Stroll Through History.  On the way, I pass a ceramic plate in a shop doorway with the monuments of Toledo pictured.

ceramic Toledo
ceramic Toledo

I first head to the Plaza de Zocodover, which is the central point for everything in Toledo.  The square is lined by cafes that are prime spots for people watching.  According to Lonely Planet Spain, from 1465 to the 1960s, Zocodover was the scene of the city’s Tuesday market and successor to the Arab souq ad-dawab (livestock market), hence the name.  For centuries, toledanos enjoyed their bullfights here, or gathered to watch public burnings at the stake during the Inquisition.

It’s too bad about that McDonald’s.

Plaza de Zocodover
Plaza de Zocodover

From the Plaza de Zocodover, I pass through the Arco de la Sangre on the eastern side of the square, heading to the Museo de Santa Cruz.

Arco de la Sangre
Arco de la Sangre

The 16th century Museo de Santa Cruz combines Gothic and Spanish Renaissance styles.  I love the cloisters and the carved wooden ceilings.  I walk through the museum, enjoying the mosaics, the porcelain plaques, the woodwork and the religious paintings and tapestries.   I also enjoy the air-conditioning, as Toledo is quite hot.  While Barcelona was about 25 degrees Celsius every day I was there, Toledo is about 38 (100 F).  On these narrow winding and steep streets, with stone all around, the heat is trapped and I feel like I’m in an oven.  Any chance I have to dip into air-conditioning is a sweet relief.

Museo de Santa Cruz
Museo de Santa Cruz
inside Museo de Santa Cruz
inside Museo de Santa Cruz
mosaics in Museo de Santa Cruz
mosaics in Museo de Santa Cruz
photography in Museo de Santa Cruz
photography in Museo de Santa Cruz
beautiful woodwork
beautiful woodwork
Porcelains at Museo de Santa Cruz
porcelain at Museo de Santa Cruz
courtyard in Museo de Santa Cruz
courtyard in Museo de Santa Cruz
at Museo de Santa Cruz
at Museo de Santa Cruz
inside Museo de Santa Cruz
inside Museo de Santa Cruz
Christ in Museo de Santa Cruz
Christ in Museo de Santa Cruz
courtyard at Museo de Santa Cruz
courtyard at Museo de Santa Cruz

After leaving Museo de Santa Cruz, I head to Toledo’s famous Alcázar.