Toledo Historic City, Spain
Toledo is known as La Ciudad Imperial (Imperial City) for a reason; this is Iberia’s Rome with a cultural slug of mosques, synagogues, churches and museums, plus the added high of a lofty setting, perched on a rocky ridge above Río Tajo. Like the Middle East grafted onto Catholic Spain, Toledo’s labyrinth of narrow streets, plazas and inner patios is reminiscent of the medinas (towns) of Damascus, Cairo or Morocco’s Fez. Yet from Toledo’s heart rises the Gothic grandeur of the cathedral and the grim composure of the Alcázar. The artistic legacy bequeathed by the city’s former inhabitants of Romans, Jews and Muslims is reflected in this intriguing mosaic of architecture, as well as in its cultural values.Toledo’s charms can be dampened somewhat if the streets are choked up with tour groups. Try and stay until dusk, if you can, when the city returns to the locals and the streets take on a moody, other-worldly air.