Toledo is strategically situated on a cliff surrounded on three sides by the river Tagus. A Roman town since 192 BC, it became the capital of the Visigoths in the 6th century when it was recognized as the country’s religious center, initiating the close relationship between Church and State that has defined much of Spanish history.
Under the Moors Toledo enjoyed a period of tolerance between Arabs, Jews, and Christians, which produced an enriching cultural exchange. Reconquered by Christians in 1085 , it became their most important city – the “soul of Spain.”
Muslims and Jews who remained were tolerated, but the Christians quickly established their authority converting mosques into churches, and then adding monasteries and convents.
Their biggest undertaking was the great Gothic Cathedral, built on the site of the former Great Mosque, a political statement that Christianity was back to stay.
Our morning local guide tour will take us through the narrow maze-like historical center, the old Jewish quarter, we’ll visit a synagogue, a mosque, the Cathedral and see the fabulous El Greco painting in Santo Tomé.
El Greco was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance period. His unmistakable style of elongated, tortured figures, often religious in nature, were unconventional and dramatic for their time. Born on the island of Crete he was given the nickname, “El Greco” meaning “the Greek” to reference his heritage. After studying and working in Venice and Rome, he received a commission to work in Toledo where he lived for the rest of his life. Mid afternoon we’ll admire 30 of his paintings at the Santa Cruz Museum.