Spain - Toledo

by Kimp 30. June 2013 02:23

Photo Blog

Toledo sits on top of a hill and was the Medieval Capital of Spain. The hill is surrounded on three sides by the Tajo river. In early times it was Roman. When Rome fell, Spain separated from Rome, but was able maintain Roman culture. That period was called Visigothic. That ended in 711 when Moor's attacked from Africa and took control of Spain.
In 932 Toledo was captured by Abd-ar-Rahman III who enforced freedom of Religion. That's when Jewish people started immigrating there. For a time, Jewish, Christian and Muslim all lived and practiced their own religions in Toledo. The Jewish people stayed until after WWII, when they started migrating to the United States. 
In 1085 it was reconquered by Christians and it remained Spain's capital until the 1500's when the capital was moved to Madrid because there wasn't any land near Toledo, that would allow easy expansion. The movement of the capital caused a strong economic decline in Toledo so it remained relatively stagnant until around 1980 when it started to attract the eye of tourism.
Cathedral of St Mary:
Toledo is the home of Spain's largest and most iconic Cathedral. Built on the site of an old Mosque, it took 250 years to complete. During construction, it went through several addition's and changes. It's a Hodge Podge of architectural styles, showing the many different tastes of the powerful people who rolled through Toledo. 
St Peter and St Paul festival:
I was there on June 29th, which happened to be a Saturday this year. June 29th is the joint feast in commemoration of the martyrdom (in Rome) of St. Peter and St. Paul. It's one of the largest Christian festivals, along the same lines as Christmas or Easter. In Spain they have a Spanish translation of the Mozarabic Rite Mass. Mozarabic means that the ceremony is the same as it was when Christian's in Spain were under Muslim rule. They had adopted Muslim language and culture but remained Christians. I was part of the capacity crowd attending the mass and it was several hours long. Normally I would not take pictures during a mass. However, when a few, probably non-Christian, Asian tourist's, crashed the mass near the end and started snapping zillion's of pictures. I discretely joined in, and snapped a few of my own.
There is a huge and long ceremony that occurs outside before the mass starts. It's easier to look at the pictures and follow the captions, then to read it here. Pretty much, they have several hand carried iconic floats, flag bearer's, axe bearer's and virgin's who parade through the city before assembling in front of the Cathedral, where a small ceremony takes place. Then they line up and move inside of the Cathedral for mass. 
Float Assembly/Disassembly:
The pre-festival activities, the day and night before were pretty amazing. I was outside when the police motorcade escorted several moving van's up to the Cathedral. Many of the floats that they use, were made in Medieval times and have lots of gold in them. I am guessing these are normally in Museum's elsewhere in Spain, where they are dismantled, moved to the Cathedral, then reassembled. They unloaded about a zillion wooden boxes, then opened them. Some poor dude (without any instructions) had to figure out how to reassemble them. He looked completely overwhelmed, like he was saying, "Damn, I wish I would have played closer attention when Josepi was putting these together !!!". On the plus side, he had lots of very attractive women helping him. I would have offered, but I don't think the dudes with the guns would have approved of that. 
After the mass was over, there is a mad rush to get them disassembled, put back in the wooden cases and back on the moving van's. All under the watchful eye of the Spanish police.
El Greco:
Domenikos Theotokopoulos was a Greek artist, who studied in Rome, then moved to Toledo where he was commissioned to make several religious pieces. Unable to pronounce his name, they just called him the Greek (El Greco). The Santa Cruz museum in Toledo has a bunch of his work's in it. Simply fantastic. His medium was oil on canvas which blended vibrant colors, translucency and majesty in both the natural and supernatural worlds. El Greco is the best supernatural painter of all time, in my opinion. 
War Museum:
Toledo has a pretty sweet military arms museum as well. It has a few piece's that I have never seen before and also has some very high quality ancient armor displays.
The city itself is awesome. About as Medieval as it gets.



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