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Tours to Spain will often introduce you to the rich arts and culture of Madrid, the fierce Catalan identity of Barcelona, or the beautiful beaches of Valencia. You would be selling yourself short, however, if you were to miss out on visiting the municipality of Toledo. Located a short distance south from Madrid, Toledo was at one time known as La Ciudad Imperial (The Imperial City), according to Lonely Planet. Toledo was a site for the confluence and coexistence of three major religions, as well as a former capital of the Spanish Empire. Its rich history, classic art and architecture and unique cultural influences makes this a must-visit for any tourist to Spain.
As you stand above the city and take in the breathtaking view, one of the first things you might notice is the interesting melding of different architecture. More specifically, the comingling of three major religions has resulted in a beautiful blend of architecture from each one. Cathedrals, mosques and synagogues are all prominently featured in the Toledo landscape. Its unique combination of architectural styles from medieval history have led to it being classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. According to the United Nations organization, Toledo's various art and architectural masterpieces are a direct result of the peaceful coexistence of the three major religions.
One such benefactor of these artistic influences was the famous Greek painter El Greco, who lived in Toledo from his arrival in 1577 to his death, according to National Geographic. El Greco produced many of his most famed classic works while living here, including several landscapes of the city. Some of his art is displayed at the various churches and cathedrals around the city.
Despite the presence of a multitude of buildings comprising different religions, one must-see place to visit is the Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo, located directly across town from the Alcazar, the city's other iconic building. The Gothic style of the cathedral takes one back to medieval times.
At its very essence, Toledo is a medieval city, frozen in history. Beyond the numerous must-see sites, its artwork and architecture, Toledo can be enjoyed just by walking the cobblestone streets that appear to be unchanged from yesteryear. The city was known for its skill in working with metals, and the dozens of shops selling swords, shields and other medieval relics serve as a reminder of this past. For history buffs, religious scholars and photography enthusiasts seeking a unique memory, Toledo is the place to visit.
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