|Today started with a buffet breakfast at our hotel included with the tour price. We then boarded an orange bus with Luis driving and another Luis as our guide for our optional trip to Toledo. Toledo used to be the capital of Spain until about the 1600's when it was moved to Madrid. King Phillip II was having problems with the Cardinal in Toledo and so moved the capital. Madrid is a city of about 4 million people and Toledo has about 50,000 people. Toledo is about 1 hour drive from Madrid.
We arrived in Toledo and were let out for pictures overlooking the town and the river Tagus. The view was quite nice. We then boarded the bus and were dropped at the top of the city. Our tour was a walking tour and it was (thankfully) down hill. We went in one church, Santo Tomc, was quite spectacular. The church was finished by Queen Isabella and took more than 200 years to complete. The reason for the long completion was the 800 years of fighting between the Moors and the Christians. Every male was drafted into the army and there was only about 5 months or less for work on the Cathedral.
The cathedral has a statue of a smiling Madonna looking at the baby Jesus. This is the only such statue in Spain. It is very rare for Madonna to be depicted as smiling due to her knowledge of the tragic death of Jesus. It is also unusual to see her looking at Jesus or Jesus looking at her. They are most often depicted looking straight ahead. The architecture is grand with stone work in the Gothic style. No photos were allowed in the church. The high altar has a series of carvings (painted) that depict episodes of the life of Christ. These have recently been cleaned and restored to original condition after a threat from termites.
Cardinal Mendes is buried in a tomb off the floor near the high altar. Queen Isabel buried him here. It was reported to her that he had two children. She sent for him in a private audience. He brought the children with him (girl -11, boy-9). They were cute and she smiled and kissed each. She then told him how beautiful were the Cardinal's sins.
One other part of the church was done in baroque style and features a window in the dome (not original to the building). The sun from the window lights the middle of a sun gate at the back of the altar. They drilled and installed a pipe to carry this light to the communion box so that when the communion ark is opened for the noon service it is lit by the sun.
The cathedral also houses several works of art by El Greco. These are housed in the sacristy where the priests dress for mass. They were quite interesting to see and the roof of this room was also painted but by another artists who was ambidextrous. We left the cathedral and went to see El Greco's most famous painting concerning the death of a man. The story is that at the man's death, two saints (St. Stephen and St. Augustine) came down from heaven to carry him to his grave. The painting is large and is not a fresco, but a canvas. It has been moved once to be on display at the 1965 World's Fair in New York. It has the earth scene of his death and the scene in heaven as Jesus instructs St. Peter to open the gates and John the Baptist pleads the man's case to Christ.
We walked down the hill and took a few more photos of the bridge and the river Tagus. This river starts about 70 miles from Toledo and flows all through Spain into Portugal where it ends its march to the Atlantic. The ride back to the hotel featured one stop to see how Damascus handicraft is done. This is the process of adding Gold thread into works of steel from jewelry to swords. I bought Kim a bracelet and we got back on the coach. We slept back to the hotel. I got a sandwich and Kim slept until our tour of Madrid at 3:00pm.