My new appreciation for the harsh beauty of central Espana and El Greco!

Toledo Travel Blog

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While in Madrid, I took the Ave to Toledo for the day. It's only a 30 minute high speed train ride from the city. The train station is on the ourskirts of the city so, the bus ride into Toledo is a great way to get an overview as you are driven by the main gate and through areas that afford you different and interesting views of the city.

It is the capitol of the province of Toledo and of the autonomous region of Castille La Mancha. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire. It is also  has a diverse religious community  of Christian, Jewish,  and Moorish cultures.

El Greco was born here and was inspired by this unique community.

Toledo was famous for producing of iron and especially of swords and the city is still a center for the manufacture of knives and other steel implements.

The old city is located on a mountaintop and it gets up to 150 degrees, surrounded on three sides by a bend in the Tagus River and contains many historical sites, including the Alcazar, the cathedral (the primate church of Spain), and the Zocodover, a central market place.

 I really enjoyed just walking the streets of this city that time forgot. The desolate landscape in the distance just adds to the ambience. You may be walking through the cramped alleyways at one moment and then walk into a square that has views of the almost desert like surroundings……..amazing.

I happened opon a local artist that practices an art form more than a millieum old, damascening. Damascening is the application of gold or silver on iron or steel to produce a decorative pattern.

Egyptians, Greeks and Romans practiced this art long ago; Greek tradition names as the inventor of this art Glaucus of Chios, a Greek sculptor of the VI century B.C. Around the XV century it became popular in Europe, and at present the art work produced in Toledo, Spain is famous all over the world.

The procedure used  by the artisans is to cover the surface of the object lengthwise and across with fine, narrow grooves, by means of sharp steel cutting tools. Then gold threats or fine wires are taken and the decorative pattern drawn, the wire being pressed into grooves by means of a steel punch. In order that the gold is perfectly retained it is hammered in with a small punch and a hammer. Afterwards the part is blued using the same procedure as employed for blueing firearms.

I was able to watch the artist as he was creating one of these amazing pieces. He was able work the wire into the tiny channels without a magnifying glass. I couldn't resist.....I bought a Moorish star design and small pendant of renais

The Museo Santa Cruz was a fantastic collection of El Greco masterpieces and over 1000 years of decorative arts from all over Spain.

It was amazing to see the differences in designs on pottery and tiles from the different regions, even cities, of Spain. Also, if you are an El Greco fan, this is a place of pilgrimage. You will be in heaven.

As my day drew to a close, I was so glad that I had take the time to come to Toledo. It exposed me to different art and traditional crafts specific to this region. Also, After seeing a few El Greco in the Prado Museum in Madrid, this was a fantastic treat. It was wonderful to get this different spirit of Spain…….a world away from Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona.


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photo by: ellechic