September 26th

Today we took a day trip to Toledo. Toledo is famous for a number of things such as a collection of el Greco pictures, Toledo steel (lots of knives and swords there), and our main interest, the Cathedral.

Puerta Atocha estacion schedule board
Puerta Atocha estacion schedule board

We took a train to Toledo and left perhaps earlier than necessary but we wanted to avoid some of the tourists; tourists can be so much bother when I want to look at things. I am going to keep this report somewhat short and let some of the pictures I took tell most of the story.

When we last visited Toledo many years ago we walked up the steep hill to the old part of the town where the Cathedral and the Alcazar are. This time, we took a taxi. We arrived at the Cathedral at about 9:30 and there was nothing going on. We wandered around for a while and came back just before 10:00 and found the beginning of the day’s rush. When we got into the Cathedral, the vast space made it feel empty. That did not last, of course. But for a while we were free to look at things without fighting crowds.

The cathedral was begun in 1226 and is in the Gothic style. It is almost 400 feet long, 194 feet wide, and 146 feet high. I think that the main feature of the interior is the light. There are many stained glass windows that contribute to the feeling of space inside.

We spent a couple of hours inside and could probably have spent more. I took quite a few pictures, some of which I have posted on the pictures page.

One of the highlights was a visit to the Chapterhouse, which was begun in 1504. The ceiling is very nice but I was so busy looking around that I forgot to take a picture.

Painted Ceiling in the Sacristry
Painted Ceiling in the Sacristry

A ceiling of a different type is in the sacristy. In that room there are perhaps 15 religious paintings by el Greco. There are other works there but we were focused on el Greco since we saw the exhibit in the Prado about his influence. This time I did not forget to take pictures.

I should mention the famous El Transparente which is a triumph of light. It was built in the Baroque style in the early 1700s. A skylight, located very high in the apse (far east end of the church) illuminated an elaborate altarpiece. I must have taken 20 pictures of the skylight and the elaborate murals and statues that surround it trying to compensate for the bright light and dark background. I was only partially successful.

After leaving the Cathedral, we headed for the Alcazar (fortress). We took a somewhat roundabout path. [Reminder: Spanish Tourist Board: more signage.] Google maps wasn’t much help either because there are so many small streets and alleys. We saw a good bit of territory. When we got to the Alcazar, the only exhibit they had going on was about armies, which we chose to skip.

The streets were pretty busy shortly after noon.
The streets were pretty busy shortly after noon.

We spent a while in Zocodor Plaza which seems to be a magnet for tourists. We found a nice small place for lunch which we enjoyed very much. We took a cab back to the estacion, which has almost no features to help pass the time. We were early for our train back and spent the time sitting outside in the shade enjoying the temperature and light breeze. We got back to Puerta Atocha in time for rush hour and it took several minutes longer to return to the hotel than to get to the station in the morning.

We had another interesting and enjoyable day.

There are more pictures on the pictures page.

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