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)
Then there was the railway station.
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.