The Tale of 3 Religions- Toledo, Spain

June 24, 2017

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Toledo, a city just under an hour outside of Madrid, serves as a very important city in the history of Spain. Not only did it used to be the capital of Spain, but it is the current capital of Castilla de la Moncha and continues to reflect Spain’s the diverse history.

In a brief and nonspecific rundown – the Jews, Muslims, and Christians have each ruled the majority of Spain at one point or another with each one driving out the others for a short period of time before drastic and unexpected comeback! Seriously – insane!

During our trip to Toledo, we visited religious sites for each of the three religions!

  1. La Sinagoga Sefardi – one of the oldest Synagogues in Toledo. The Sefardic Jews are from Spain. It’s said that many of the Jews that fled during times of religious persecution took the keys to their houses in Spain, and that some of the families may still have them to this day! If you can prove your family traces back to a Sefardic Jew you can obtain citizenship in Spain.

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Similar to that of Islamic mosques, Jewish synagoges can not depict any images of “God”, so they decorate their synagoges in elaborate geometric patterns. When the light streams through it is BEAUTIFUL.

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These little tiles are scattered all throughout the Jewish Quarter and were used back in the day to identify that this was a predominantly Jewish area.

2. La Catedral de Toledo

Toledo is known for many things – including being the execution site of the Spanish Inquisition. Many people give Spain and spanish catholicism a bad wrap for having participated in this; however, 1) it originated in France… so they’re really the ones to blame right??? and 2) Spain only executed 300 “witches”‘ compared too the many thousands killed throughout France and Germany.

Moving on to the BEAUTIFUL Cathedral. The Cathedral of Toledo was designed in the Gothic Style – including stained glass, tall ceilings implying belief on the spirit going towards God, and many idols – images of relgious figures.

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One of the most beautiful altars I have ever seen! Hard to imagine that they did all of this by hand and without the technology we have today!

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Just another piece of the beautiful sculptures and architecture found among the Cathedrals here in Spain. I was honestly amazed.

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El Grecos depiction of Jesus being put on the cross. Notice his use of bright colors to draw attention to different things. The man in the green is actively disrobing Jesus. The man in yellow if working on assembling the cross. The knight and one of the men to Jesus’s right are staring directly at the audience as if they are encouraging them to get involved.

3. Mesquita de Christo de Luz – 199 A.D.

Notice the garden outside of the Mosque. This is very common because of the importance of water in Islam. Everyone must use the water outside of the mosque to wash their body prior to entering. This is symbolic of purifying themselves before connecting with Allah.

 

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There are two important parts to the mosque –

The Keebla- the wall that they face during prayer. This changes in each mosque you go to because it is actually the direction in which you’d find Mecca – their holiest city. The search to find the correct position is supposed to mimic the search that you’d have to take to find “Allah”.

The Mijab – a tiny separate room that holds the Quran.

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Now I bet you’re wondering…. why does this mosque contain a figure and painting of Jesus? Well, during olden times after a change in power they would take whichever religious sites they currently had and would convert them into the new religious center. Notice the very typical Islamic architecture (the circular arches) in the background. The combination is very interesting!

Anyways, the city of Toledo was definitely an interesting experience! I loved seeing and learning more about each of the religions as well as the history of Spain! A definite must see.

Hasta luego,

Kathryn

P.S. It’s HOTTTTT in Toledo (all of Spain really but especially Toledo).

P.P.S. Toledo is also known for Marzapan…. just saying. Might wanna try that. Hahaha.

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