For the past couple of weekends, I’ve been traveling around Spain (In close proximity to Madrid, of course, because it’s an easy way to start!) Toledo is the first place outside of Madrid that I visited, and I did it through the USAC program.
Toledo is much smaller and much less modern city compared to Madrid. Maybe it just the fact that it was the siesta hour, but in the empty streets of Old Toledo, It felt like I was walking an empty city pulled right out of time.
When I walked down some streets I could reach both arms out and touch both sides, and it made me wonder what it was like to live here in the 14th or 15th century when it was teeming with people.
Toledo was actually the capital of Spain until 1561 when el Rey de España, Philip II, changed the capital to Madrid. But Toledo, in many ways, is still considered the cultural capital of Spain, if not the political and governmental capital.
Power fluctuated between many different religious groups throughout the centuries, but at one time, Muslims, Jews and Christians all lived together in its walls in peace.
Spain, but specifically Toledo has a lot of Arabic and Muslim influence. In the Jewish Quarter of Toledo, the Synagogue’s designs are unusually Muslim because Muslims built it. Even the Cathedral in Toledo has Muslim influence because it was once a Mosque. You can see the original parts of the Mosque within the built-on Cathedral.
Toledo’s Cathedral is breathtaking, especially it’s vibrantly colored altarpiece. For me, the altarpiece was one of the highlights of the trip to Toledo. But, the stain glass and arches could make anyone believe they were in heaven.
If my hyperventilating that day didn’t make it clear to the rest of the USAC group that I’m an art major, I don’t know what else would.
The second swoon-worthy sight to see that had this art-major’s heart palpitating, was el Greco’s masterpiece, The Burial of the Count Orgaz.
The painting, which was done for the Count Orgaz, actually hangs above his grave. My only regret that I had during my Toledo trip was not buying a scarf with the painting on it.
At least I can check two things off my list: 1) Saw El Greco’s masterpiece 2) Found my Spanish lover who incidentally is El Greco.
I’m not kidding about being a very passionate art major.
But one thing is certain, I would definitely go back.