Museums and churches (Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

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I wake up and am feeling it again. It feels so good to be in a positive and creative frame of mind again after a few off days since I arrived in Madrid. I waste no time and get straight out to hit the streets. There are a stack of museums and churches I want to see today. And, while I’m at it, some random photos to take.

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Like this one of the moss growing between some bricks. Random I know. But I always know I am feeling content if I am taking random photos like this.

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The first bus loads of tourists have already arrived in the city. It’s winter so there’s no hoards of tourists; just a light dusting of tribes wandering around listening to earphones and following their guides. They all follow the same route so it’s not difficult to avoid being stuck with them.

I want to go to the museum about the Knights Templar but it doesn’t open for half an hour so this sets me off on a random wandering seeing many more things than I otherwise might have. First there’s a museum right nearby in an old church. I wish I could remember the name. I can’t even find it on Google maps or Trip Advisor anymore. It’s simple and costs about 2 euros to enter but inside is stunning. There are high arches and a mix of Muslim and Christian decorations.

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I meander through the streets and come to the Iglesia de San Ildefonso (Church of St Ildefonso). Here I purchase a pass for 8 Euros that will get me into six different churches in Toledo. Given that each church costs 2.50 Euros it’s a good deal. And it ensures I will actually go into lots of different places I might otherwise have skipped for not realising they were interesting. Inside the church feels calm and sacred. Again, it is a total contrast to the pious stuffy churches in Poland and Holland. But the real treat here is the view from the towers. It’s great to be here first thing in the morning because it means I can get a feel for the city.

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My wanderings take me to the Mezquita Del Cristo De La Luz. This tiny square mosque is over 1,000 years old and is still standing. After the Christians defeated the Moors the mosque was converted to a church. But you can still tell it’s a mosque. The nine small domes in the ceiling are all unique, adding to its beauty.

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I relax and meander through the streets, taking in the local scenery. It’s such a cool place to walk around. Few places could be further from home. And, yes, cars do drive through these narrow alleys. It’s insane where the Spanish can squeeze their cars. Mind you, I did see plenty of dented ones too.

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Religion is definitely important here. There are churches galore and even a Jesus and Mary Street. I find a back entrance to the Cathedral and fin myself in a small area reserved for prayer. I can’t get into the main area of the cathedral from here but somehow this is exactly where I need to be. After my railing against Catholicism in Poland, perhaps I need this time to feel the connection again away from the other tourists walking around listening to audio guides and taking photos. The cathedral is grand and immense. This small area I am confined to through the taking of a back entrance feels more intimate.

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I see the famous painting in the Igelsia de Santo Tome and also find my way to another church for which I have a ticket but I miss out on the Jewish Temple because I get side tracked with the Medieval museums. There is the interesting Templar Knights museum. The signs are all in Spanish so I can’t read them but I do love a good suit of armour and seeing the weaponry of the Medieval period. My next stop is the magnificent but creepy Torture museum that contains items from the Spanish inquisition era. As a graduate of Criminology I find anything that relates to prisons and punishment intellectually stimulating. This museum and the Leonardo da Vinci museum that I go to next both have English signage, which means I get a lot more out of both. And, speaking of the Leonardo da Vinci museum … what’s not to love about three floors of Leonardo’s creations made into life.

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Mum is due to arrive in Toledo around 5pm so I buy another ham sandwich around 2:30pm and head off to my hotel to knock out a couple of hours work. It’s been a big morning and I haven’t stopped walking. I could keep exploring Toledo for a few more hours but if I don’t work I don’t get paid and then I can’t keep traveling. Haha. But it’s been a grand morning … and there’s still a few hours exploring to be done after Mum arrives this evening.

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