An overcast day but a beautiful view, “Holy Toledo!” could have been uttered on first sight of the city.
Though I don’t actually know anyone who says “Holy Toledo!” in situations of surprise or disbelief, I now know the explanation to the exclamation. Similar to “Oh my goodness,” “Holy Toledo” is another, less common cry to the heavens. Why Toledo? Because the city has a lengthy and complicated religious history that defines the ancient area and illustrates the intolerance of the past.
My study abroad program organized a day trip to tour the notable town and learn about its significance to Spain. Once the capital of the country, Toledo could not expand with the growth of Spain because of the natural moat surrounding the city. With Madrid’s geographic location more suitable for success, Toledo was left behind with centuries of stories for visitors to learn.
Toledo has had separate periods of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian control. These rules are evident in the infrastructure of the city, which is divided into the respective religions’ quarters. We first toured the Jewish quarter, where we walked through the Sinagoga del Tránsito, or Synagogue of El Transito. Next, we visited the Iglesia de Santo Tomé, or Church of San Tomé, in the Muslim section of the city. The San Tomé mosque, in addition to many other mosques and synagogues, was converted into a church when the Christians controlled Toledo. They built the grand Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada, or Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo, located in the Christian quarter, the final stop on the tour. Each of the restored religious centers was beautiful, telling unique stories of the harsh past, and instilling an appreciation for the freedom and acceptance of diversity today.
A sweet ending to a serious trip, I sampled marzipan, a sugar and almond treat extremely popular in the city. The dessert morsel satisfied my sweet tooth and pleasantly concluded my trip to Toledo.
Paz, Amor, Toledo