By Charles Tanford & Jacqueline Reynolds
Toledo stands in a loop of the Tagus (Tajo) River, on a site of unsurpassed beauty. An unforgettable view of the town, with brilliant blue Castilian sky in the background, is obtained from the Parador Conde de Orgaz, a state-owned hotel on the steep hills of the southern river bank. Toledo was “liberated” by Christian forces at an early stage of the wars to wrest control from the Muslims, even earlier than Cordoba, but its Castilian rulers were first tolerant and encouraged intermingling of the races, so that Moorish traditions of education and culture continued for some time. In the twelfth century Toledo was probably the most important Jewish town in all of Europe; Rabbi ben Ezra lived here during that period. In fact, the realization that there used to be close intermin- gling of Jewish and Islamic intellectuals is an important lesson to be learned from a visit here-the beautiful El Transito synagogue, built in the fourteenth century, has been recently restored. Nearby is the El Greco museum, commemorating the great artist from Crete who came to live and paint in Toledo at the invitation of Philip 11 in 1585. Many of his paintings may be seen in a gallery in Toledo’s cathedral.