Toledo is probably one of my most favorite cities yet. It was built by the Iberians when they first settled on the peninsula, hence its name. After the Iberians, the Visigoths moved in and made it their capital. Then the Romans took over and then the Arabs and the Jews. In 1085, it finally became a Spanish city, being captured by Alfonso VI. In the 16th century Carlos V, emperor of the Austrian Empire, was crowned Carlos I, king of Spain, and he named Toledo as his capital. Due to his dual title, Carlos adopted the sign of a double-headed eagle as his symbol. Carlos V’s son, Felipe II,  decided he was too close to the Cardinal in Toledo and he moved the capital in 1561 to Madrid, where it has been ever since. Toledo was also important to Isabel and Ferdinand, they build a monastery here where they intended to be buried upon their death. The monastery was built exactly to Isabel’s style, referred to as Isabelina. The arches in the upper cloister are exclusive to Spain. And while the monarchs eventually decided that Granada was the better place to be buried, the monastery is still home today to an order of Franciscan monks. Toledo is still also home to the Cardinal of Spain. Therefore, the Cathedral of Toledo is the most important in all of Spain. It took 266 years to build and almost 500 to decorate. Lunch was included in my tour and contained typical madrileña (from Madrid) food: tortilla española, Manchego cheese, leg of lamb, wine, and coffee. Then our tour ended in a damasquino, a workshop where they inlay gold into steel in the Damascan style from the 800s.

Carlos V


Isabelina arches
Cathedral of Toledo

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