25 November 2008

Toledo!

Okay well I am getting behind so let me try to catch you up.
Let's see, not last Friday but the one before IES went to Toledo by bus. It's only about 45 minutes out of Madrid. One of the interesting things about Toledo is that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have all been prominent there throughout its history.
We pulled into town around 10 and our bus driver dropped us off in an alley. There was a minor incident as we exited because one of the girls had been wearing her seatbelt (Angel insists) and then when she unbuckled it and it rolled up, it took the hem of her shirt with it. In short, she was trapped. Two of us stayed to help her while the bus driver tried to kick us off the bus because we didn't know how to explain the situation. I feel like it probably takes a very specialized vocabulary to communicate to a Spanish bus driver that your friend is trapped because her shirt is stuck in a seatbelt.
Finally she ripped herself free and we walked into town. There a few of us got the marzipans that the city is famous for (overrated!) and then IES regrouped and we headed to the cathedral.
Okay, this cathedral is the real deal. They've got just about everything you could want in a Gothic cathedral. As usual, we did a tour, and the tour guide was all like, "What do you notice most about this cathedral?" and I casually raised my hand and answered, "The light," like I'd done it a hundred times (and it's beginning to feel like I have) even though what really struck me was all the space inside.
They say that the cathedral is built on a spot where the Blessed Virgin descended and handed off a garment or something. There are many murals and paintings and reliefs within the cathedral depicting the event, and there's also, within a small, dimly lit glass case, the stone upon which her holy feet stood.
There was a massive mural of St. Christopher. Points to me for being the only one in my tour group who recognized him- other people thought it was Jesus, but why would Jesus be carrying a haloed figure on one shoulder while lacking one himself? Seriously classmates, up your game.
And then there were gilded chapels radiating around the head of the church (I can't remember what the English term is but in Spanish they call it the head, and I'm sure you can imagine that it's the head on the cross). There was some really beautiful artwork here, like gilt sculptures and more depictions of the Virgin descending from Heaven.
It was really one of the more beautiful cathedrals I've ever been inside. The Spanish Gothic style generally doesn't impress me as much as the French style, but they were definitely trying in this case. They even had a tiny little rose window.
After that it was on to the Synagogue del Transito, a converted synagogue which now serves as a Jewish museum. The main hall was pretty beautiful, with tile and carved wood, and pillars. Up where the women would have originally prayed was wear the museum was, and it had a lot of really interesting things, like old Torahs, the pointers (I'm not sure what a lot of these things are called in English or Hebrew, but I sort of learned some of them in Spanish), shofars, and old ceremonial outfits worn by Berber Jews in their desert weddings and such.
Then we headed to a certain church- I don't remember the name. It is the location of El Greco's masterpiece 'Burial of the Count of Orgaz.' It's a huge painting, probably like 15 feet tall, and it's even more amazing in person. I don't know how much you may know about it, but it really is pretty famous, and many consider it to be El Greco's masterpiece. It was very, very beautiful.
Next we visited the Monastery of St. John of the Kings. This was also very cool but we were starting to get worn out. Thankfully they gave us free time after this.
By this time it was around 2, and we went out for lunch in little grupos. The two girls I was with both wanted to eat, fortunately. After that, though, we wanted to go crazy with souvenirs.
However, we weren't counting on siesta. Almost everything was closed from 2 to 5 there, and unfortunately, we had to be gone before 5. I would have liked to have looked a little longer at different shops, but I'm nevertheless pretty proud of the gifts I bought.

I have to apologize because I fell asleep multiple times while writing this! I know my syntax is probably also off but that's just because I'm so exhausted. So please excuse me.

1 comment:

Uncle Dave said...

I've never been to Toledo. I hope you took pictures of the masterpiece!