Toledo is a province of central Spain, in the western part of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha, in the land of windmills and
the legend of Don Quixote. It is bordered by the
provinces of Madrid, Cuenca, Ciudad Real, Badajoz, Cáceres, and Ávila.
The province contains 204 municipalities including the smallest municipality in Spain, Illán de Vacas, with a tiny population of just eight inhabitants. The River Tajo crosses most of the province.
The landscape of the province is mountainous to the north-west, where the region joins the Sierra de Gredos; in the south lie the steep mountains of Toledo, that separate the basin of the Tagus from that of the Guardiana.
The City of Toledo
The famous World Heritage City of Toledo, which is capital to the autonomous community of Castile-LaMancha, and was once the capital city of Spain, is a magical city steeped in its magnificent historical past.
Under the Roman occupation Toledo became a fortified city, with the River Tajo and its hilltop location, it became an ideal fortress; from this moment Toledo became an important city politically and culturally.
During the 13th century it was one of the only cities in Spain where Moors, Christians and Jews
lived together more or less peacefully. The architecture and monuments in the city still reflect this era with the remains of churches, synagogues and mosques still on view today.
Places to visit
The old quarter of the city is entered by a magnificent stone gate; once inside, the winding ancientstreets are best explored on foot.
Entering the city by the magnificent Puerta Bisagra (Bisagra Gate) you are already experiencing one of the cities most important monuments, or two, as the gate is actually two gates in one. The original structure, built between the sixth and seventh centuries, and the new gate, constructed in the sixteenth century, which extended the original entrance.
Probably the most famous of all the city’s monuments is the Alcazar, the symbolical castle was occupied by the Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Christians, over the years some of Spain’s
most influential architects and artists have added their mark to the castle. Over the ages the Alcazar has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, the last time during the Spanish Civil War.
The Cathedral of Toledo dates back to the 1st century when it was built by the the first Bishop of Toledo, it became a mosque during the Moorish occupation of the city, it was converted back to Christian in the re-conquest, destroyed and then the rebuilt as the magnificent Gothic structure that we see today.
Switching religions, then are two synagogues of particular interest; the Synagogue Transito and Synagogue of Santa Maria Blanca, both contain museums depicting the Jewish culture through
the ages in Toledo and craft and gift shops. The Taller de Moro was built by the Jews in the 14th century and then when they were driven from the
city, it was converted to a church; however some of the original Hebrew writings can still be seen on the walls today.
There are heaps of museums in the city, too many to mention, but if you are looking to visit a place of cultural interest, then Toledo is one of the most interesting cities in Spain.
Towns & Villages of Toledo
Talavera Ruiz de la Reina is another important city in the province, where you can visit the
Basilica del Prado and the Collegiate Church, and purchase one of their fabulous handmade ceramics, whose most significant examples are housed in the Museo de Luna Ruiz.
The town of Carranque, near the towns of Illescas and Esquivias, is famous for its Shrine of Charity, which houses several paintings of El Greco and the Museo de Cervantes. Carranque, also has the remains of a Roman villa from the fourth century. You can get an idea of what life was like at the time the Roman Empire was crumbling.
After the Romans, the Visigoths also occupied these lands and theyalso left their mark here.
The town of San Martín de Montalbán has the Visigoth Church of Santa Maria de Melque, which has a useful visitor centre its Visitor Centre. This is one of the best examples of early medieval architecture in Europe.
Leisure & recreation
The province of Toledo offers also the possibility of enjoying nature: hunting, fishing and hiking are all on the agenda. The area is famous for its ceramic and pottery makers, and a visit to one of the cottage factories is recommended.
The province of Toledo is known for its delicious roast meats and stews, typical dishes include
Estofada de Perdiz (Partridge Stew), El Cuchifrito, a stunning dish made with lamb, tomato, egg, saffron and white wine. Typical roast platters of Roast Lamb or Roast Suckling Pig, and when in season, wild game is also on the menu.
The province of Toledo contrasts greatly with very cold winters and very hot summers.