The three of us living-mates went to lunch in a hole in the wall place in Toledo and ordered sandwiches and a dish that Americans would call breakfast: tiny birds' eggs on top of toasted bread with bacon. It was all very delicious, and we decided to always look for those kinds of places to eat instead of the more expensive touristy places! We also looked around the little shops: there were plenty of tourist gadget shops and Toledo-specific shops (mostly displaying metalwork, knives, swords, and suites of armor, since Toledo is famous for its metalwork and for its history of battles. I found it interesting, and attractive, that there were also the chain stores from Madrid in Toledo, but in miniature form given the small size of the streets and shops.
The Catedral de Santa Marìa was amazing! We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but that might have been a good thing because I wouldn't have known where to start! It was enormous, all marble, and very, very cold. We saw many tributes to the Virgin Mary handing a royal vestment to San Ildefonso, the patron saint of Toledo and a symbol of the city. Our guide brought us to the choir section- not really a loft, so much as an area surrounding one of the altars, with carved wooden seats and hidden doors leading up to huge pipe organs. Apparently a tradition in Espana is to have pipe organs that lower partway to be horizontal way up in the air.
|la catedral de Santa Maria|
There were red cardinals' hats hanging in some places, indicating a tomb underneath below the main floor; we saw a small stairway, all darkened and creepy, leading to the crypts. We saw an incredible piece of artwork at the main altar that took 27 artists 6 years to build and paint; it extended from the floor all the way to the ceiling, and the windows in the cathedral tower were arranged around it to make the sacraments appear to glow.
There were also tombs for a rich family who paid to be there, and a museum collection of religious artwork by famous people. Apparently the royal monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella were supposed to be buried there, but because Granada was the last city to be taken by the Christians they were buried there to solidify that conquest.
On the way out, we saw a GIANT painting of Saint Christopher on the wall of the church. As the patron saint of travelers and children, St. Christopher is put in many Spanish churches as a representative for those souls who die suddenly and need to be saved. The painting was literally an entire wall of the cathedral, from floor to ceiling.
We also saw some buildings with the royal crests of Ferdinand and Isabella, which was cool, and small pieces of artwork or statues tucking in the walls to indicate what the street was. We went into an ancient synagogue there as well, which was a very interesting place.We got back on the bus later in the afternoon and headed to Granada, which I only saw in the dark as we unloaded and found our resedencia last night. It was a really incredible visit, and Toledo is definitely my favorite city so far!
Please check out my pictures from Madrid (and Toledo, soon to come) under the "Study Abroad Pictures" link at the top of this page. More on Granada soon. Thanks for reading!