Spain travel: Toledo and its Famous Spanish CastlesTechnically, in Spain we should go to Madrid first. That is probably where your airplane from North America will land in Spain, most likely in the very early morning. Toledo Spain is a side trip from Madrid, about two hours by train
(Click here for Rail Europe if you would like a Eurail pass for Spain).
Once you arrive at the Toledo train station, take a taxi to the town center. It's a little too far to walk. Still... if you really want to, you can go there by foot. Great scenery along the way. Easy to find. Yet it does take the better part of an hour... longer if you stop and look at things... but... maybe that's the way a vacation should be. However you get there (sometimes a bus is waiting outside the train station, but don't count on it) when you arrive at the city center, you will want to walk through Toledo to experience its historical wonders.
You first see it from far away...
On the top of the hill... El Alcazar de Toledo.
The best translation of El Alcazar is probably "the fortress". There are many fortresses and castles in Spain, but we know this one from El Greco's painting.
Built originally in Roman times, it was rebuilt when Christianity first swept across Spain, then again in the Middle ages, and still again in the 16th century when it was totally redesigned. Fires caused by the French Army in the 12th and 13th centuries were responsible for additional design changes, and there was a major renovation at about the time of the American Civil War.
During the Spanish Civil War, the Alcazar was more or less demolished. It was rebuilt according to the way it was before the war (with, once again, a few changes). So what you see is an ancient Spanish castle less than a hundred years old. It is now a museum, and provides office space for today's Army of Spain.
Puente de Alcantara
or "Alcantara's Bridge" is the Eastern entrance to Toledo.
Castillo de San Servando which means simply "the Castle of Saint Servando". Alcazar and Castillo are two of the many Spanish words that generally get translated "castle". Castellon and Alcala are two more. Sometimes a Spanish castle is simply referred to by its location, like Almodovar del Rio.
This particular castle was first
constructed during the 14th century under the patronage of Archbishop Don Pedro Tenorio. It was built over other
buildings, the purpose of which is somewhat unclear. It was rebuilt after the destruction of World War II, and
now hosts a residence for students.
The Arabic Walled District
This is a view from the inside of Toledo looking up toward the Alcazar. The parked cars bring us back to modern times, reminding us that we are actually still in the 21st century.
Toledo has given us respite from the present for a precious time, but now let's take the train back to Madrid and see what today's Spanish culture has in store for us.
Click Here to go along with us to Madrid, the capitol of Spain.
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