Hello all! Two weeks ago, I took the speed train from Barcelona to Madrid with my three boys. The day we arrived, we visited the Reina Sofia museum and saw Picasso’s Guernica, perhaps the most well-known painting of the 20th century. Guernica bears witness to the atrocities committed against the Spanish people during the Spanish Civil War in the early part of the 20th century. The next day, we stepped back in time, visiting Toledo, the former capital of Spain.
Is Toledo Spain a Must See?
If your family is lucky enough to be able to travel to Spain, I highly recommend you visit Toledo. In this picturesque city set high on a mountain overlooking miles and miles of barren ground, centuries of Spanish history shine through.
Toledo harbors a mosque, since Arabs were here; the former synagogue Santa María la Blanca, which welcomed worshipping Jews; and an elaborate Catholic cathedral complete with paintings by famed Spanish painter, El Greco.
Built it 1180, Santa María la Blanca is considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing. Ironically, it is now owned and preserved by the Catholic church. Constructed by Islamic architects for Jewish use, it includes sparkling white walls and artistic motifs reminiscent of Moorish architecture (the architecture of North Africa and parts of Spain and Portugal where the Moors were dominant between 711 and 1492).
During the Middle Ages, Jews, Christians and Arabs lived side by side in Toledo, appreciating a climate of mutual respect and religious tolerance. Sadly, that spirit did not endure. But the memory of this diverse, multi-cultural community remains.
Walking through Toledo’s places of worship with my boys, we thought about our current world, so filled with division and conflict. How ironic that during the Middle Ages, religions co-existed more peacefully than they do in many areas of the world today.
I hope you enjoy these photos and here’s to accepting, appreciating and learning about people who don’t resemble us, who believe differently, who live differently, yet who love their children passionately as we do.
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