The drive to Toledo was much longer than the previous drive to Cordoba, but we arrived at the Parador (again situated on top of a hill overlooking the city) and we were blown away by what we saw. It was like viewing a painting or stepping into a fairytale, as the city lay before us, with the Alcazar and the huge Cathedral rising up through the lower layers of buildings – a truly spectacular and panoramic view.
Excited by what we could see, we were keen to inspect our rooms and get out and about. Our accommodation did not disappoint – like the Paradors in Ronda and Cordoba, we had three separate rooms each, and ours had double aspect views to the city and the pool.
We took lunch on the terrace which offers a brilliant panoramic view, and headed off in a taxi where our first stop was the Plaza de Zodocover. Toledo has what Rick Steves likes to call a “goofy” tourist train (which leaves from the Plaza) – and Rick is right, but it serves a purpose and is pretty inexpensive, so we hopped on and duly did a circuit, the benefit of which is the stop the train makes to allow photos to be taken from an ideal viewpoint. It is easy to snap away while the train is moving too, though you need a steady hand.
Having seen the city, we formulated our plan for viewing the main sites, deciding to head straight to the Gothic Cathedral, and leave the Alcazar the until next morning as it was getting late. There was no queue at the entrance to the church so we were soon inside. Yet again we were standing inside a truly magnificent structure, with a huge and unusally colourful altarpiece (retable) in the Capilla Mayor. The Cathedral boasts impressive and huge pillars, beautiful stained glass windows, and some fascinating side altars.
Directly opposite the Main altar is the outstanding choir (coro), but photos were not allowed at the time we were there. It had the most amazing carved choir seats.
El Transparente is an incredible Baroque work situated directly behind the altar, and is something you could stand transfixed by for a long time, trying to piece the story together, so the audioguide is useful, but with so much to see in the Cathedral, I tended to race through the guide and missed some useful information I am sure. The symbolic skylight above it, is literally awesome and the huge sculpture itself is a little overwhelming.
The Capilla San Blas (Chapel of Saint Blaise) is a chapel accessed via the cloisters, and has stunning restored murals – an absolute highlight because is so beautiful.
The Sacristy of the Cathedral doubles as a museum and contains fine art works. It has a magnificent fresco on the vaulted ceiling.
It also contains El Greco’s famous altarpiece “The Disrobing of Christ”:
You can’t see the Cathedral and not mention C16th “Monstrance”processional -silver gilded in gold and it contains diamonds. It is pretty impressive…
Having done all we could do in the Cathedral, we returned to the hotel for dinner on the Terrace- a bit tuckered out after a long drive and a busy afternoon.
Next post … a little more of Toledo