Thursday, August 25, 2011


I first visited Toledo as a senior in High School and was absolutely breath taken by it's beauty. Despite the fact that Toledo was on the last leg of our trip this time and that we had a bit of a transportation nightmare arriving and getting out which added a lot of stress, I still believe that Toledo is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The beautiful back streets and the river that surrounds it, it's no wonder the whole old city is a UNESCO world heritage site.

As it was a Sunday, and we were going broke paying the exorbitant fees to enter the cathedral in every city we'd been to, we decided to go to mass to take in the cathedral, rather than waiting for opening hours, much as we did in Westminster Abbey in London. After a bit of research, it seemed like a rather brilliant idea because the cathedral hosts a celebration of the Mozarabic Rite of the Catholic Church. I'd never heard of this Rite of the church before and was quite excited to see it here. We showed up, read that the mass time for the Mozarabic mass was at 9:45, which was just about the time we arrived, and thought we were in store for something really spectacular. Unfortunately, the cathedral has many side chapels and no one explained that the Mozarabic mass was not held in the main part of the church but in a specific side chapel devoted just to this rite. We sat through the most boring Catholic Church mass of my life in the main hall where there was no choir, no singing and not even a procession at the beginning and end. The only upside to all this was the fact that the mass was also one of the quickest of my life, seeing that all the good stuff was taken out.  After the mass we wondered around a little before getting out and found the Mozarabic mass finishing up in the side chapel.

One cool thing about the cathedral is that every bishop that is buried here can choose where in the cathedral he would like to be buried, and then his hat is hung over his tomb... basically until it disintegrates from old age.  So, all through the church, you can see hats like this hanging around in odd places.

 Toledo is a great place for shopping. The two most famous items to buy here are their swords and their Damascene, a handicraft which inlays gold or silver onto iron.

There's so much more to Toledo, we didn't even have time to brush the surface, but one more nice thing we found time to do was to walk down to the river. Above is the night scene and below is the day scene. Both beautiful and worth the walk. 

If I were to plan this trip again, I would definitely give more time to Toledo. And plan better because there are no trains or buses that go directly from Cordoba to Toledo. Toledo needs two nights minimum and transportation needs to be well planned in advanced. We went for the high speed direct train from Madrid to Toledo for 10 Euro. You get there in just 1/2 an hour.

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