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Toledo is located about 40 miles southeast of the capital, Madrid, and is itself capital of Castilla y La Mancha. This wonderful city, bounded on 3 sides by a bend in the Tagus River, has an abundance of attractions and artistic wealth. It is also noted for being the base of famous painter, El Greco, who arrived in the city from Crete in the late 16th century.

Due to its strategic location Toledo history is long and interesting, the Visigoths first made it their capital in the early 5th century. The Moors then took control in the 6th century, before the Spanish king, Alfonso VI, took the it in 1085. Toledo then began its golden era, until Philip I moved the court to Madrid in 1561. Afterwards, Toledo went into an economic decline, but this meant many of the historical buildings were preserved.

Started in 1227 and finished in about 1493, the magnificent Toledo Cathedral is thought of as one of the best in all Spain and houses a selection of masterpieces, such as oil paintings by Velazquez, Goya and El Greco.

A short walk from the cathedral is the small 14th century San Tome Church. Visitors arrive there to see the enormous masterpiece, El Entierro del Conde de Orgaz by El Greco, which shows the Saints Augustine and Stephen lowering the Count of Orgaz into his grave. To find out some more about the artist, go to the Casa y Museo del Greco in the old Jewish sector. Although El Greco did notactually reside there, the museum has several of his oil paintings. There are more fine examples of his work on display in the Museo de Santa Cruz, which is located in aformer 16th century hospice, and it also has oils by Ribero and Goya.

The massive Alcazar castle, that dominates the Toledo skyline. During the Spanish Civil War, the Nationalist forces, under Colonel Jose Moscardo, held out against the Republicans for nearly 10 weeks, and the Alcazar was almost totally razed in the process. Now rebuilt, the fort is home to a military museum, which traces the tale of the siege, plus there are some wonderful vistas rightacross the valley from the terrace.

Toledo had a large Jewish population in the Middle Ages and there are 2 ancient synagogues in the old Jewish sector, the El Transito and the Santa Maria La Blanca. El Transito, was constructed by Samuel Levi in the early 14th century and now has a little museum, while the Santa Maria, built in the 12th century, was then converted into a Christian church when the Jews were expelled in 1492.

The nearest international airport to Toledo is Barajas in Madrid. There is a goodtrains service to Madrid, but the buses are usually faster and more handy. The local tourist office is found at the Puerta de Bisagra and is open every day.
For more holiday advice and visitor information on Toledo please visit Toledo in Castilla y La Mancha, Spain.

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