The City of Three Cultures, Toledo

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Last week I finally had the opportunity to visit the historic and beautiful city of Toledo.  There was a group of Hungarian students doing an exchange at my school and one of the activities they had planned was a trip to Toledo; the headmaster knew I hadn’t visited it and invited me to go along.  The students, were also extremely happy to find out that I would be going with them and would use the day to practice their English  and to try to get me to speak Spanish.  Toledo is among Madrid, Barcelona and Granada as a city that must been seen when visiting Spain; when I was asked, “What places have you been to in Spain,” everyone’s response (after not listing Toledo), would be “Have you been to Toledo yet,” I would (now I can say yes) say no, only to be told that I have to go, it’s beautiful.  They weren’t wrong.

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Toledo, has been around for over 2,000 years, that’s six and a half time older than the USA.  Over its 2,000 year old history it has belonged to different empires; the Romans, the Visigoths, the Arabs and of course the Spanish.  Being as brief as possible, it started successively as a Roman municipium,  then it was the capital of the Visigothic Kindom, after, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, then an outpoost of the Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors and, in the 16th century, the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V (according to UNESCO).  The city and its masterpieces are the product of heterogeneous civilizations and the coexistence between Judaism, Christanity and Islam.

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In 1805 Alfonso VI reconquered Toledo and converted it to the “City of Three Cultures” and a cradle of tolerance, where the three major religions lived in harmony and maintained their customs; with the occasional outbreak of violence.  Walking around the city you can easily spot architectural examples of the three as well as a combined architectural style, known as Mudejar style.   Walking through the streets was like being transported to three different cities in the past, with each building and each alleyway holding their own unique story.  Truly an incredible place.

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