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The province of Toledo, Spain.
TOLEDO is one of the largest provinces of Spain, located approximately in the centre of the peninsula, in the community of Castilla La Mancha of which it is the capital, on the southern plateau.
You only need to see the first windmill and the first card saying “We have cheese here” and you will know that you are in La Mancha. And that is because this land is unmistakable; just as Cervantes painted it in Don Quijote, exactly the same as then.
The province of Toledo is famous for two reasons above all. The first is for its windmills and for being one of the places where Cervantes located the adventures of Don Quijote de la Mancha; and secondly for being the home of the beautiful city of Toledo, declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Other interesting locations in the province of Toledo are 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 a pretty castle; and Oropesa, in whose 14th century palace the Parador off Tourism of the area is situated.
Toledo city, World Heritage siteToledo is one of the Spanish cities with the greatest monumental richness. Known as the “city of three cultures”, due to the coexistence through the centuries of Christians, Muslims and Jews, Toledo has conserved behind its walls an artistic and cultural legacy in the form of churches, palaces, fortresses, mosques and synagogues. This large diversity of artistic styles has turned the old cantre of the capital of La Mancha into a genuine open air museum, a fact which permitted its declaration as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
The labyrinth of streets which make up the historic centre of Toledo is controlled only by the walls of the city with innumerable gates. Synagougues, mosques and churches open up to the narrow Toledo streets, characterized by the mixture of artistic styles.
If there is one person to define Toledo, this is, precisely, El Greco (s. XVI-XVII). His House and Museum, an atmospheric palace of the epoch, exhibits some of the best works of this painter who brought worldwide fame to the city.
DON QUIJOTE IN THE PROVINCE OF TOLEDO:Covering the same natural scenarios where Cervantes located the adventures of Don Quijote, the traveller can enjoy in Consuegra the same windmills confused by Don Quijote with giants, in Villafranca de los Caballeros with its famous clay artesanry and for nature lovers there is a large variety of sea birds in the Toledo wetlands for whom a pair of binoculars forms part of the equipment.
There is much popular architecture such as silos, typical subterranean homes which can be found in Villacañas or the Ornithological Reserve of Miguel Esteban. And on arriving in El Toboso, you can discover innumerable corners of a La Mancha village famous for being the birthplace of Dulcinea.
Castles and WindmillsThe province of Toledo has a great number of fortifications. In few places such as this one can you view scenery at times flat, at times steep, sprinkled amongst the great castles. The castles of Toledo create a whole of exceptional historical and artistical interest, of Arab, Roman or mediaeval origin, with differing grades of oreservation, all of them imposing.
Amongst the most striking are the castles of San Servando in Toledo, Consuegra (with the famous windmills), Guadamur (possibly the prettiest of the province), San Martín de Montalbán, Escalona and Oropesa. We cannot forget to mention the precinct walls of Toledo and Talavera de la Reina, with its gates of Muslim and Mudejar origin.
Thanks to the ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha we know of the mills which once were spread out in the higher areas of the region of La Mancha. They were named after wind because thanks to them they could grind the grain of the harvested cereals. The upper part of the windmill, coloured black, formed a dome, and towrds the ceiling, it revolved. This permitted pointing the arms of the windmill in the direction of the wind. The arms, made of wood, wre covered by a large cloth which moved them in the same way that the sails of a ship move.
Do not forget to visit the windmills of Consuegra.
Nature and active tourismIn the south of the province, in the foothills of the Mountains of Toledo, is theParque Nacional de Cabañeros, a protected area which combines Meditarranean forests in the mountains with pastures on the extensive plains.
And if you like sport and adventure don’t miss out on "El Chorro", a waterfall of more than 15 metres in the municipal district of Los Navalucillos (inside the enlarged Parque Nacional de Cabañeros).
In the municipal district of Burujón, located some 30 kilometres from the provincial capital, there is one of the most beautiful, impressive surprising natural spaces in the province. The Barrancas de Burujón are spectacular clay ravines cut into the area by erosion of the Tajo winds and waters of sediments over the past 25 million years.
The rural side of Toledo offers the visitor, in addition to tranquility, amazing scenes for all those who wish to take part in what is called sporting tourism or active tourism such as hiking, cycling, equestrian trails, canoeing, rock climbing, bungee jumping, paragliding, not forgetting hunting and fishing; alternating these activities with ecotourism and cultural tourism, allows us to get to know, conserve and respect nature in addition to viewing a large number of artistic, archaeologicalhistorical, ethnographic or folkloric resources of the diffferent regions of our Autonomous Community.
Gastronomy and Festivals
Toledo’s gastronomy has diverse specialities based on hunting, such as stuffed partridge, Toledo Quail, or venison with mushrooms. Along with other La Mancha provinces there is ratatouille (made from peppers, tomatoes and onions), Castillian soup or breadcrumbs. The climax is the celebrated Manchego Cheese and marzipan (a paste of ground almonds and sugar). These dishes can be accompanied by wines from La Mancha and Mentrida, both of which have Guarantee of Origin.
The most important date in the Toledo calendar is Corpus Christi, which is celebrated nine weeks after Easter. This festival, which has centuries of tradition and has been declared an International Tourist Interest, has its high point in a multitudinous and colourful procession through the historical centre of the capital of La Mancha. The festival year begins with the festival of San Anton, celebrated with traditional bonfires in many provinces of the province.
The stand-out celebrations are the Festival of the Olives in Mora de Toledo on the final Sunday in April; those of San Isidro in Talavera from the 15th to the 18th of May with their processions, dances and spectacles, the Festivals of Dancers and Sinners of long ago origin and with a high symbolic value in Camuñas. In June the Festival of Friendship is celebrated in Polan and at the end of November the Festival of the Rose in Azafrán.
Sources: Spain.info, Turismo de Castilla La Mancha
TOLEDO PROVINCE, Spain. Travel guide and travel information for the province of TOLEDO, Spain. SOL Spain On Line.
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