Toledo is one of the Spanish cities with the richest collection of monuments. It is known as the "city of three cultures", due to its former occupation by Christians, Arabs and Jews.The city has a rich artistic and cultural heritage preserved behind its walls in the form of churches, palaces, forts, mosques and synagogues. This great diversity of artistic styles makes the old capital of La Mancha a real open air museum. The city has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The coexistence of Christians, Arabs and Jews, throughout the centuries, is reflected in the city's artistic and cultural legacy. The maze of streets that make up Toldeo's historic city center are bounded by walls with many doors. Picturesque places like the Zocodover Square can be accessed through these doors.
The churches of San Sebastián and Santa Eulalia are legacies of the Mozarabic period (Christians living under Moslem rule) as they have a rich Arabic decor. Horseshoe arches, foliated windows and other architectural elements can be seen in several buildings in Toledo. The Church of Santiago del Arrabel is one of the best examples of this style in the city, which has led to it being known as the Mudejar Cathedral.
The church of Santo Tomé, which is famous for housing the well-known painting by El Greco, "The Burial of Count Orgaz", is built in the same Mudejar style. If there is one name that defines Toledo it is El Greco (16th-17th century). His House-Museum, set in a palace from that period, exhibits some of the best works of the painter who brought worldwide fame to the city.
The Cathedral is one of the most prominent buildings in the city and is considered to be one of the pinnacles of Gothic art. The Cathedral Museum houses a rich collection of works by painters like Goya, El Greco, Lucas Jordán and Van Dick.
The Hospital de Tavera, which is now a museum, houses paintings by El Greco, Ribera and Tiziano, among others, and is built in the Renaissance style.
The Palacios de Lorenzana, home of the University, and Fuensalida are built in the Baroque style. The Alcazar, which is of Medieval origin, presides over the whole city and is an impressive image containg a military museum and one of the largest public libraries in Spain.
The most important date on the calender in Toledo is Corpus Christi, which is celebrated nine weeks after Easter. This festival, which has centuries of tradition and has been declared a Festival of 'International Tourist Interest', consists of a large and colourful procession through the Old City of Toledo.
Excursions from Toledo
South of the province, at the foot of the Montes de Toledo, is the Cabañeros National Park. It is a protected area containing Mediterranean forests, mountains and pastures in its vast plains. Other interesting towns in the province of Toledo include Talavera de la Reina, with its collegiate church of Santa María la Mayor; Ocaña, with its Gothic-Mudejar church of San Juan Bautista; Guadamur, with its beautiful castle; and Oropesa, whose 14th century palatial castle houses the town's Parador de Turismo.