Spain & Portugal Travel Part I: Toledo

January 30, 2019 by
Filed under: Spain & Portugal 

Spain & Portugal Travel Part I: Long Travel to Spain and Toledo Visit

Spain and Portugal have many interesting historical places that are now designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Places of Visit

My wife and I together with 22 people from my country, Malaysia, went to Spain and Portugal to visit some of their historical landmarks from 22 Oct 2018 until 2 November 2018.

Writer and Wife

Writer and wife on Spain and Portugal Tour

Tour Group from Malaysia

Tour group on the Spanish & Portugal Tour from 22 October-2 November 2018

We would begin our tour from Toledo and end at Barcelona, as shown in the map below.

Map showing the places the tour group would visit

Touring Spain and Portugal

A Brief History of Spain

Spain was ruled by the Romans in around 200 BCE. Subsequently, she was ruled by the Christian Germanic tribal confederations, Visigoths, then the Muslim Moors from North Africa in 7th. century and Christians again in the 15th. century.

King Ferdinand III, a Holy Roman Catholic monarch, recaptured Spain from the Muslims in 1492. The country became a republic in 1873 when the last monarch, King Amadeo I(1845-1890), abdicated his throne.

47 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain

Spain was ruled by different kingdoms in the past and many places and buildings left behind have become UNESCO world heritage sites totalling about 47.

Long Travel to Spain from Malaysia

Day 1    Mon, 22 Oct 2018  Air Flight

On the first day of our travel to Spain, we flew from KLIA, Malaysia, to Madrid in Spain via Bangkok(Thailand) and Amman(Jordan) on Royal Jordanian airlines.

Flight from KLIA to Bangkok(2 hrs 10 mins) 

Flight from KLIA to Bangkok on Royal Jordanian Airline on 22 Oct 2018

Flight from Bangkok to Amman(9 hrs 20 mins)

Flight from Bangkok to Amman on 23 Oct 2018

Flight from Amman to Madrid(4 hrs 30 mins) 

Flight from Amman to Madrid on 23 Oct 2018

Jeff Lee, a tour manager of Golden Destinations

Jeff Lee, a tour manager of Golden Destinations Travel Agency(Kuala Lumpur), took care of us during the whole tour as shown in the photo below.

Jeff Lee, tour manager of Golden Destinations

Jeff Lee, a tour manager of Golden Destinations Travel Agency(Kuala Lumpur)

Tue, 23 Oct 2018  Arrival at Madrid, Spain

After a long, tiring journey that took almost a whole day from Malaysia, we finally reached Madrid international airport known as Madrid-Berajas Airport on the second day, Tue, 23 Oct 2018.

At the airport, we boarded a dark orange coach. Then Sergio, a Spanish driver, drove all of us to a small town, Segovia, which is about 90 km north-west of Madrid.

Sergio, a Spanish coach driver

Sergio, the coach driver(L), and the writer(R)

Hotel Puerta de Segovia

On arrival at Segovia, we checked in and rested for a night at a hotel, Hotel Puerta de Segovia. We would begin our Spain-Portugal tour on the following day.

Hotel Puerta de Segovia

Hotel Puerta De Segovia, 90 km north-east of Madrid

Day 3     Wed, 24 Oct 2018

Toledo and Madrid

On this day, we would begin our long-awaited tour in Spain and Portugal.

We would visit Toledo first and then Madrid on the same day.

In the morning, my wife and I had a hearty breakfast at Hotel Puerta de Segovia, our first breakfast in Spain. After breakfast, we and others travelled by coach from the hotel to the former capital of Spain, Toledo, which is located 157 km south-west of Segovia and the journey would take 2 hours.

Writer’s Breakfast

Writer’s first mouth-watering breakfast in Spain at Hotel Puerta de Segovia

Wife’s Breakfast

His wife’s first breakfast in Spain at Hotel Puerta de Segovia

Berta, a Toledo tour-guide

On arrival at Toledo, a Spanish guide, Berta, joined us and brought us round to see the landmarks in the old town of Toledo.

Berta, a Toledo tour-guide

Berta, the Toledo guide


Toledo is a quaint and charming town in a hilly area. It is known as the “City of Three Cultures” due to the cultural influences of the Christians, Muslims and Jews in the past.

Map showing the location of Toledo

Location of Toledo in Spain

While travelling on a hill in Toledo, we saw the picturesque old town of Toledo on another hill separated by a river, River Tagus.

Alcazar of Toledo

On top of the hill is the Alcazar of Toledo which is a majestic looking fortress on the highest hill in Toledo.

It was used as a Roman palace in the 3rd. Century, restored by a Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, and his son in the 1540s, and rebuilt between 1939 and 1957.

Now, it houses the regional library and military museum.

Alcazar of Toledo

Alcazar of Toledo that was a fortress in the olden days houses a regional library and military museum.

Alcantara Bridge

To enter the old Toledo town, we crossed a bridge over River Tagus. The bridge known as Alcantara Bridge was built between 104 and 106 A.D. by the Romans.

A medieval castle, Castle of San Servando, located on a hill near the bridge was founded in the 7th. Century.

Alcantara Bridge

Alcantara Bridge was constructed in the years 104-106 A.D. by the Romans

Castle of San Servando

Alcantara Bridge and Castle of San Servando, Toledo

Wall and Gates

Toledo was surrounded by a wall in the olden days to prevent sudden attack by invaders. Now some parts of the wall and two stone gates remain as monuments.

Wall Round Toledo 

Wall was built round the town to prevent sudden attacks from invaders in the olden days

Stone Gate to Alcazar of Toledo

This  massive stone-gate is an entrance to Alcazar of Toledo. a fortress on the highest hill in Toledo.

Stone Gate in Toledo

A massive stone gate is an entrance to a fortress, Alcazar of Toledo, located on the highest hill in Toledo.

Alcazar of Toledo

Toledo Alcazar was used as a Roman palace in the 3rd. Century, restored by Charles V and his son in the 1540s and rebuilt between 1939 and 1957.

Narrow Old Streets and Squares

When we were in the old town of Toledo, we walked along narrow old streets. We stopped when we came across some ancient cathedrals.

Narrow Old Street

A narrow street in the old Toledo town

Souvenir Shops

Souvenir shops along narrow street

A Lot of Walking

We walked a lot in the town and sometimes took opportunity to rest for a short while, like these two good, old friends, Roland and Voon, from Sarawak did as shown in the photo below.

Resting in a Toledo Narrow Street

Two good, old friends, Roland and Voon, from Sarawak resting in a narrow street in Toledo Old Town

Zocodover Square

While going to Toledo Cathedral, we stopped for a moment at an open-air space known as Zocodover Square.

In the olden days, it was a busy market place and a place for public execution of prisoners. Now, it is a place where important social and political activities take place.

Zocodover Square

A square in old Toledo town, Zocodover Square

Toledo Cathedral

Then we continued walking to a cathedral, Toledo Cathedral, near the square. It is a famous cathedral and the largest in Toledo. It is  also known as “Primate Cathedral of St. Mary of Toledo”.

Built in Gothic architectural style, it is a Roman Catholic church that was constructed in 1223 and completed in 1493.

Toledo Cathedral

Toledo Cathedral in Gothic architectural style

Facade of Toledo Cathedral

Detailed facade of Toledo Cathedral

City Council of Toledo Building

On the way to another church, Church of Santo Tome,  we were attracted by a charming building with two towers in Baroque style. Besides, it looks symmetrical.

It was constructed from 1575 until 1793 with lots of problems. It is now the seat of the city council of Toledo.

City Council of Toledo

City Council of Toledo, a charming building that was constructed from 1575 until 1703

Church of Santo Tome

Then we visited another church known as Church of Santo Tome.

While waiting to enter the church, we were amused by an old,  Spanish lady-busker dramatising a play “Don Quxiote” in front of the church. Some generous passers-by donated her some money.

A Lady-Busker

An old, unemployed lady busking in front of Church of Santo Tome

Painting of “The Burial of Count Orfaz”

When we entered the church, we saw a famous painting on a wall, “The Burial of Count Orfaz”. It was painted by El Greco(1541-1614), a Greek Spaniard, who was a painter, sculptor and architect.

Church of Santo Tome

Church of Santo Tome that houses an El Greco’s famous painting, “The Burial of Count Orfaz”

Details of “The Burial of Count Orgaz”

This painting shows heaven on the upper painting and earth on the lower painting.

The heaven shows Mary and John the Baptist gathering at Christ’s feet, whereas the earth shows Saints Augustine and Stephen lowering the body of Count Orgaz into a tomb. Christ was watching and going to judge Count Orgaz’s soul.

El Greco’s famous painting

El Greco’s famous painting, “The Burial of Count Orgaz”

Count Orgaz

Count Orgaz was a native of Orgaz. When he passed away in 1312, he gave away a large sum of money to Santo Tomes Church and wished to be buried in the church.

According to the legend, two saints, Augustine and Stephen, came down from heaven and buried Count Orgaz in the church.

The church commissioned El Greco to paint a picture in the church showing the burial of Count Orgaz. El Greco finished painting it on a wall in the church in 1586. Art scholars consider it as a masterpiece of Western Art and late Mannerism.

Portrait of El Greco(1541-1614)

El Greco, the painter of “The Burial of Count Orgaz”

Back of the Church of Santo Tome

The back of the Church of Santo Tome, Toledo

Toledo Escalators

Later, we went to the top of a Toledo hill by escalators.

The escalators are constructed in six parts in a zig-zag manner totaling 100 metres long. They help tourists to gain a height of 36 metres to reach the hill-top to see the breathtaking view of the new town of Toledo in the distance.

Escalator to the hill-top 

Toledo elevators help tourists to gain a height of 36 metres

Panoramic view of the new town of Toledo

Panoramic view of the new town of Toledo from the old town

Lunch Time

After a short tour of the old town of Toledo, we went to a restaurant, Restaurante Ciggaral Monte Rey, that perched on a high ground in Toledo old town for lunch.

A Toledo Restaurant

A restaurant, Restaurante Cigarral Monte Rey, in Toledo, Spain

Tour group having lunch in Toledo

Tour group having lunch at Restaurante Cigarral Monte Rey in Toledo, Spain

Some Dishes Served in the Restaurant

Fried Rice with Seafood

Fried with seafood served at Restaurante Ciggaral Rey, Toledo

Bread with Cheese, etc.

Bread with cheese, fried egg, etc. served at Restaurante Ciggaral Monte Rey, Toledo

Two Objects at the Restaurant

At Restarante Ciggaral Monte Rey, two objects attracted my attention as shown in the photos below.

Medieval Armours

In olden days, medieval armours were made of metal and used by soldiers to protect their bodies.

The armours at the restaurant looked heavy. The poor soldiers in ancient times had to wear them for protection during wars.

Medieval Armours

Medieval armours used by soldiers for body protection during ancient wars

Coat of Arms of Toledo

A carved wooden Coat of Arms of Toledo was on a wall of the restaurant.

Coat of Arms of Toledo

A carved wooden Coat of Arms of Toledo

Next Destination

After a sumptuous lunch, we travelled to the capital of Spain, Madrid, which is 73 km north-east of Toledo(Time taken: 1 hour). On arrival in Madrid we visited some heritage sites.

Home / Next(Madrid)

Places visited during Spain & Portugal Tour(22 Oct-02 Nov 2018):

Toledo   Madrid   Salamanca   Porto   Lisbon   Seville   Cordobo   Granada   Valencia   Barcelona


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