Sunday, April 19, 2015

Getting to Know Toledo: A Tour with Travel Republic


Just outside of Madrid lies Spain's former capital, the historic city of Toledo. This medieval hilltop town is one of the most colorful views into Spain's captivating past. Due to the city's history of peaceful coexistence between Christians, Jews and Muslims, Toledo is also known as the "City of Three Cultures". Not only is this enchanting UNESCO World Heritage Site brimming with history, but it is unquestionably one of the most picturesque towns in Spain.


On my first trip to Toledo a year and a half ago, I spent the day eating and drinking my way through Spain's former capital, strolling through the town and getting lost within its charismatic streets. However, I barely scratched the surface on Toledo's history, sights or monuments. I left Toledo knowing almost nothing about it.

Thankfully, this time around I got to experience a crash course in Toledo's history on Travel Republic's Madrid Toledo Tour. The perfect way to experience Toledo on a time crunch, this tour showed me all of the city's major sights and gave me a much-needed history lesson.


If you only have a few short days in Madrid but don't want to miss out on the cultural mecca of Toledo, this informative half day tour is a great way to quickly see the city and enjoy the sights. Our tour started at 8:45 in the morning and lasted roughly five hours, bringing us back to the center of Madrid just in time for lunch. 

We were transported to the city and back in a comfortable private bus, which gave us a relaxing opportunity to enjoy the scenery around us. Although food and drinks were not included, we were given the opportunity to fuel up with a café con leche on the way there and pick up some marzipan - a typical delicacy from Toledo that's not to be missed.


We hit almost all of Toledo's major sights on our tour, including the Church of St. Tomé with El Greco's hauntingly beautiful masterpiece The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, the Museum of Victorio Macho and the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes. 

We also visited a workshop where we witnessed the antiquated technique of damascene. Damascene involves the inlaying of precious metals in steel, and today it is a tradition that Toledo is still notorious for practicing. Seeing this practice firsthand gave me a unique insight into Toledo's ancient traditions that I wouldn't have experienced otherwise.

Inside the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, my favorite stop of the tour
The intricate exterior of Toledo's cathedral
Inside the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes

As we stopped at each sight, our informative guide gave us a brief overview of Toledo's history and significance within Spain. As she covered the basics while throwing in some fascinating anecdotes, I was able to paint a picture in my mind of Spain's dynamic past. 

In the story of Spain's vibrant history, Toledo was positioned as the beating heart of the country. Through its series of captivating transformations and transitions, the medieval town of Toledo has acquired a timeless, fairytale-esque quality. Without a doubt, witnessing the old world charm of Spain's former capital is an all-around magical experience.

Observing damascening in a traditional workshop
Speaking of old world charm, Toledo is also well known for its medieval swords!

Getting to know Toledo on Travel Republic's Madrid Toledo Tour was a memorable way to transport myself back into Spain's compelling past. An ideal tour for those with limited time in Madrid, this condensed overview of Toledo's sights and stories is a great way to gain a better understanding of Spanish culture and history.

Travel Republic graciously invited me on their Madrid Toledo Tour, but all opinions expressed are my own.

Have you ever been to Toledo?
What's your favorite day trip from Madrid?

23 comments:

  1. I'm dying to go to Toledo and a tour sounds like a great way to get informed while visiting. I'll definitely consider doing just that whenever I finally get around to visiting.

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  2. This place looks beautiful! I would definitely love to visit once I finally manage to travel to Spain! :)

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  3. Que hermosas fotos! Love Toledo, I have never been but also heard good comments. I love Madrid though, my favorite place there is El Museo del Jamon!

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  4. Gorgeous photos! I love the plush green grass and colorful buildings.

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  5. Such beautiful photographs, Courtney! I was in Toledo two years ago and for whatever reason spent THREE nights there…ugg. But I’m looking forward to going back at the end of June before I fly back home. Did you get a chance to peek in to the other synagogue in town? That one’s gotta be one of my top 10 favorite buildings in Spain :D

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  6. Oh MAN!! Why have I never been to Spain?!?!


    But really Courtney, I love the details you captured in each of these bright, crisp photos. The architecture in Spain is really captivating-- you can definitely see the diverse influences in the facades and archways.


    I also think that a tour can sometimes be the best choice. Sometimes it seems that "experienced" travelers are against group tours, but when done well, they can be a great decision!

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  7. This looks gorgeous! Adding it to our short list for this summer! Thank you, Courtney!

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  8. This pictures are absolutely gorgeous! I love all the bright colors. I'm going to be totally honest, I'm biased against anything named Toledo because I'm from Michigan and we don't like Ohio ;) hehe

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  9. Spain is one of my favourite countries. Have been there 4 times but never to Toledo. I always say, Spain is not about only Barcelona & Madrid. Spain isn't complete without other towns.


    You have captured such beautiful photos, Courtney! Thanks for sharing.

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  10. The one day I had to go to Toledo, it was completely covered in fog! This tour sounds like the perfect way to "make-up" for what I didn't get to enjoy the first time around! Love your photos, as always, and your phrases (like "beating heart of the country") are just awesome!

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  11. Toledo is so charming and gorgeous, and most definitely worth a visit next time you come to Madrid! Let me know if you ever end up going and need some recommendations!

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  12. Since it's so close to Madrid, I really can't recommend Toledo enough as a day trip. Plus, it has a really unique character that you don't get to see in some of the larger cities. Overall, it's just a magical place!

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  13. Gracias! Toledo truly is incredible. I still haven't been to Museo del Jamon, but the name alone cracks me up every time!

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  14. Thanks Courtney! It helps that the city is insanely picturesque - it makes my job easy ;)

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  15. Oh no, that's so disappointing! I hope you get the chance to experience it again someday. For me, it's one of those places that I could keep coming back to and have a new appreciation for every time!

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  16. Thank you Nisha! And I couldn't agree more. While Madrid and Barcelona are wonderful places, you also need to see the smaller cities to understand the "real" Spain :)

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  17. Thanks Jordan!! I think that's absolutely hilarious :) I can't totally blame you since I still hold a major grudge against all of my college rivals *coughOREGONcough* But maybe one day the Spanish Toledo will be able to redeem itself!

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  18. Yay :) I hope you can make it to Toledo this summer!

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  19. Thank you Daisy! I think you'd really love Spain, its architectural diversity is simply stunning. And everything else about it is pretty great too :)

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  20. Thanks Trevor! I love Toledo, but I couldn't imagine spending three nights there! Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to make it to the other synagogue, but from the pictures it looks stunning.

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  21. Nice and interesting post! I will visit your site regularly from now on. Besides, check out the following infographic titled "Ten Things to Do Before Leaving Madrid" at http://infographicplaza.com/ten-things-to-do-before-leaving-madrid/

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