First Impressions of Toledo

First impressions matter – at least to me. Hugely. And it is perhaps for this reason that I remain captivated by Toledo – Toledo, the Imperial City, once the capital of Spain, a city some 70 km to the southwest of Madrid in the province of Castilla-La Mancha. Toledo, the City of Three Cultures (Christian, Muslim and Jewish), a UNESCO World Heritage city, with a long and fascinating history stretching back to Roman times.

Because Toledo made the right first impressions and afterwards nothing – not the kitsch in the tacky gifts shops, nor the masses of gaping day-trippers from Madrid – could spoil the town for me.

First of all, there was the poem…

Tagus, farewell, that westward with thy streams
Turns up the grains of gold already tried…
(Sir Thomas Wyatt: Of his Return from Spain)

…describing the River Tajo (Tagus in Latin) that hugs Toledo and is famous for its golden sands. (The poet Sir Thomas Wyatt served as ambassador in Toledo in the sixteenth century.)

Then there was the railway station.

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The train line reached Toledo in the middle of the 19th century but the current station building dates from the beginning of the 20th. It’s built in the Neo-Mudéjar style: Mudéjar was the name given to the Moors who remained in Spain after the Reconquista and it’s also the name of the architectural style influenced by Moorish designs.

And finally, there was the first glimpse of the old town…

…that opens up suddenly when you round a bend in the road from the railway station as it curves round the hill.


The Alcázar of Toledo across the River Tajo, with the Puente de Alcántara, the Roman bridge, in the foreground.

10 thoughts on “First Impressions of Toledo

  1. I was going to leave you a detailed and supportive comment but it’s now 9pm and I have to watch a recorded episode of River Monsters before going to bed at 10. Otherwise my life will have no meaning.

    So all I have time to say is that this city looks fantastic. The architecture and sunshine are beautiful!


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