This past weekend the Accent Team here in Madrid took us on an excursion that lasted the greater part of the day. Our destination none other than the small fortress city of Toledo!

Toledo, once the capital of the Spanish Empire, is a small city located about an hour and a half south of Madrid. It is called the Fortress City because it is virtually a fortress since it is surrounded by water on 3 sides leaving only 1 main entrance to the city. Toledo has been conquered by many different people over the past 2000 years. Some of the city’s inhabitants include Iberian Celtas, Romans, Moors, Visigoths, and other barbarians. For about 3 centuries when the Moors from Northern Africa controlled the city, Toledo was known as Tolati-Tola.

View of the East side of Toledo from across the river (credit: Esteban Martinez)

Since Toledo has been occupied by many different kinds of people and cultures it has led to it having distinct structures from all three major religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. There is a part of the city that is called the Jewish Sector where if you look closely you can see small 2 inch tiles with Jewish symbols and Hebrew words to commemorate the old Jewish Ghetto that once stood there.

Toledo Cathedral, ceiling art by El Greco (credit: Esteban Martinez)

One of the greatest sights to see in Toledo is the Toledo Cathedral. The Cathedral is so spectacular that it has come to be known as the Sistine Chapel of Spain. As you can see from the picture it is definitely worthy of such nickname. The ceiling is that of the room that holds the works of El Greco himself! El Greco is the name of a famous Spanish Renaissance painter. The name El Greco, meaning “the Greek”, was given to him due to his Greek origin. In fact the proper way to say “the greek” is Il Greco, but when the Spanish adopted the name they changed the artile il to el. 

Toledo Cathedral statues (credit: Esteban Martinez)

Besides being famous for El Greco, being the capital of the Spanish Empire, or for being the city of acceptance where all 3 major religions co-existed, Toledo is also famous for making swords. Most famously the swords that are seen in The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Game of Thrones! The blacksmiths of Toledo have a method of making swords that are so bendable that if you loop them around with both arms they can make a full circle without breaking! Needless to say the biggest souvenir in town are swords! So if you ever desire to own Andúril, Sting, Goblin Clever, or even the One Ring itself Toledo is the place to go!

Famous Toledo-made swords (credit: Esteban Martinez)

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