We did not go to Spain for weekly trips, for David partly by bicycle, for Aneta, who were more focused on Madrid. There is plenty to discover around the Spanish capital! So if we recommend a few-day trip to leave the capital, travel to Toledo and the Palace of San Lorenzo Escorial. You can read about what you saw in the same Madrid here, and if you have even more time to see information about Segovia and its surroundings, you can read about it here.
Toledo – The city of three cultures
Toledo to the start of the hill city located about 70 kilometers south of Madrid. Make 1560 Toledo was Spanish, in one more thread-climate reinforcement. Toledo was a city culturally, and because of the Christians, Jews and Muslims living there, it was called the “City of Three Cultures”. Until today, one of the parts of Toledo is called the Jewish Quarter and we highly recommend combining it because of its picturesque nature, but also the fact that there are not many walking tours and the streets of the city with a car truck in peace and quiet.
At the entrance to the entrances through the Arco de la Sangre gate, after reaching the level, the Zocodover Square awaits us. Above the city there is a castle (Alcazar de Toledo) and the impressive cathedral of Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo. For us Toledo is a city that must be seen from above. We recommend the Hotel Santa Isabel, which is located in Toledo itself and has a roof terrace at guests’ disposal, from which it is guaranteed that you will not want to start! Art lovers should go to El Greco museum as this painter made part of his life in Toledo.
Toledo is also a great destination for hikers. From the Ronda de Juanelo bridge to the Puente San Martín bridge, there is a walking route just above the Tagus River. And if you cross the bridge and follow the Ronda de Toledo road, the route can be taken on the other side and the road rises a bit upwards. The route is full of viewpoints with a great view of the city, along the road there is a pavement, so you don’t have to worry about the lack of a car! We recommend this place especially for sunrise and sunset, even in the early morning there are a lot of walkers and the route is safe.
Toledo is famous for marzipan, you can buy the products in many confectioneries in the city. More or less apparently the nuns are also selling them. For centuries, Spanish nuns in many parts of the country have produced and sold cookies to maintain their monasteries. In many cases, these are nuns in closed monasteries and the process of buying cookies is the most exciting part of buying them. We saw one nun shop there run by lay workers, but if you want to go looking for cookies in the monasteries and buy them directly from the nuns we recommend this post
In addition to marzipan, the city is also famous for Manchego cheese, as well as many partridge dishes (there is even a partridge in chocolate sauce!) – look for perdiz a la Toledana (Toledan partridge) on the menu. For lunch or dinner, we recommend the homely Ludena bar.
Of course, you can reach Toledo by car, but we recommend that you make sure the hotel provides parking. You can also take the train from Madrid’s Atocha station. The ticket costs 13.6e, you can buy it at the ticket office (in Madrid it takes ages, in Toledo it is also better to plan your spare time!) Or in the machines (only in Madrid) – you will need your passport data to buy at the machine (unfortunately we have an ID card) did not pass). The train takes about 35 minutes, but be prepared for the fact that the station is located a bit from the old town and you have to get to it (or take a taxi) on foot – large suitcases not recommended.
Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial
San Lorenzo El Escorial is a town and commune north of Madrid, the most prominent building there is the Monastery of San Lorenzo El Escorial, which is one of the main monuments of the Spanish Renaissance. In 1984 the monastery was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The building is very impressive from the outside, it is huge and rather austere, complete with domes towering over it. It is even more impressive inside, and a small part of this huge building is open to visitors.
Tickets cost 12e and there is no problem with buying them on the spot, although so impressive, it is not crowded with tourists. When going to the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, it is worth taking some change with you, because in every facility of this type in Spain we passed security checks and then we had to leave our belongings in the lockers.
The two most impressive places in the monastery are the underground pantheon and the library. Spanish kings are buried in the pantheon, the first part to which you go down the stairs is a round, dark chamber, all in marble, from which you enter other rooms. The library was founded by King Philip II and it is a true work of art. Endless brown display cases lined with books and a rounded vault covered with beautiful paintings, this is how you can describe this breathtaking place in a nutshell.
After exploring the enormous monastery, your stomach will surely go clunky. We managed to find a simple, cheap and brilliant bar called Stop Bar and Fonda. As part of the three-course menu, you will eat a starter, main course (including brilliant meats!) And dessert, and they serve bread and a glass of wine or other drink for free. The bar is right next to the train station – you can reach El Escorial by car, of course, but also by train and bus from Madrid.