Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sun July 10 2016

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  • Worldwide Scott | July 10, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    You Could Always Go To Toledo, Spain

    You Could Always Go To Toledo, Spain

    Photos by Worldwide Scott

    Barcelona. Madrid. Seville. Granada. This set of Spanish cities stirs the soul and sets holiday hearts aflutter. What about the one-time capital of Spain, the UNESCO World Heritage town of Toledo?

    Not nearly as much as it should.

    That’s right, if you’re looking for a place in Spain that gushes both romance and mystique and is home to a millennium’s worth of history, you could always go to Toledo. I am certain you’ll fall in love with it. Why? Well …

    Toledo Makes a Fine First Impression

    The alluring scenes all start upon arrival in Toledo. Since it lies atop an outcrop of high ground, jutting up from the plains of Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha state, your first sights of Toledo make it look like a mystical mirage.

    READ MORE: The Best Road Trips Through Spain

    The landmark Toledo Cathedral’s steeples and the pointy spires of Toledo’s ancient palace, the Alcazar, anchor the skyline view you’ll be enjoying. If you arrive by train, you will be dropped off at a magnificent Moorish-Revival designed depot, further adding to the first impressions.

    The Medieval Streets Are Magic

    Once inside the walls of the city, things get even better. Toledo is surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River, and the town has an impressive wall (complete with multiple gates) on the fourth side.

    This means that you can wander, and get turned around on its winding streets without fear of getting too lost. And what streets they are, lined by centuries-old balconied buildings, many made of stone, painted with a pastel palette and topped with a ramshackle wave of tiled roofs.

    Hidden plazas full of palms and taverns lie around nearly every corner, and while it pains me to use a cliche and say it’s reminiscent of Venice or Dubrovnik, yeah, um, it’s kind of like that.

    The ‘Cultural Stew’ Past Is Fascinating

    During an earlier golden age of Toledo, Christians, Arabs and Jews all flourished within its walls, thus the town’s nickname, “the city of the three cultures.” Evidence from this era can still be seen today from the town’s signature cathedral (famous for paintings by El Greco) to the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz (built in 999) and Santa Maria la Blanca, considered by many to the be the oldest synagogue complex in Europe. This is the just the tip of the mixed cultural influence iceberg displayed on Toledo’s streets.

    Toledo Has a Terrific Location

    Located only a 30-minute train ride from Madrid, Toledo makes for an ideal day trip from the busy capital, and thousands do it every day. Don’t do this! I repeat: don’t do this! I’ve been on the record for a while now against relegating great places to day-trips, and Toledo is certainly one such place.

    So, go on and spend a couple nights. When we were there, we absolutely loved the evenings, as the temperatures would fall and the city would enchantingly light up. Meanwhile, the people who mistakenly made it a day trip were back in their beds in Madrid.

    Swords & Candy

    I know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen those two words put together, either, and Toledo is probably the only place known for both. Marzipan is widely said to have been invented here by nuns in medieval times during a food shortage, and plenty of shops line the streets today to assist you in your sweet sampling.

    READ MORE: Parador Paradise: Unique Lodging in Valencia, Madrid and Granada

    The sword story goes even further back, as the steel used for blades here has been renowned for its sturdiness since Roman times. Today, you’ll spot plenty of places selling authentic Toledo swords, with some have even been used in epic movies like “Lord of the Rings.” 

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Worldwide Scott The Adventures of Worldwide Scott

Worldwide Scott Born in the U.S.A like Springsteen but trying to see the world like Pitbull, Worldwide Scott is the voice behind the hard-hitting travel site of the same name. Employing a groundbreaking strategy of visiting destinations, coming home, and then writing things about them on the internet, Worldwide Scott only tackles the tough questions that other writers wouldn't dare touch: Is travelling fun? Are there pretty places in the world? Do people in other countries wear clothes? Does Europe really exist? And if so, what's the beer like there? Stick around, he's going places.
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