Toledo: walls, synagogues and marzipan

Half an hour away from the hot and dry Spanish capital Madrid, lies Toledo, a city that fits elegantly within the tall, sepia-toned walls taking you back to medieval times of walled in castles and forts. The city, which is the capital of the autonomous region Castile-La Mancha has been declared a World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. Its little winding streets – reminiscent of Mexico’s Guanajuato – let you walk up and down to the centre with views of the cathedral, and its monasteries are romantic and peaceful, It’s not only this beauty that makes Toledo a great city to visit; Toledo is also culturally, historically, and religiously rich with architecture and customs reflecting Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Toledo’s Jewish quarter is very popular with tourists. Santa María La Blanca is considered the oldest synagogue in Europe, and can be found there. Its white walls and golden decoration lend themselves to Moorish architecture, giving the synagogue characteristics of a mosque. It’s cool and peaceful inside, making it a great place to take a breather from the Spanish heat.

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Toledo is also hugely famous for their mazapán. Apparently this specifically Spanish type of marzipan – made of almonds, sugar, honey, and eggs – was invented by nuns at Convento de San Clemente to feed the undernourished people of the city suffering from famine. Toledo is also known to shape these little sweets into figures of animals. Head to the convent to try the original mazapán still made by the nuns, or to the shop Santo Tomé which has a wider variety of marzipan.

I just wish they were vegan.

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