Archive for March 16th, 2019

March 16, 2019

The Synagogues of Toledo!

So coming all the way south of my beloved Madrid passing by family  north of Toledo, and reaching nice historical huge and architecturally stunning Toledo. It is in the Autonomous Region of Castilla La Mancha. I have written several posts on Toledo and region but today will like to tell you about another gem.

I like to tell you a bit about the synagogues of Toledo and a bit of history I like.

The architecture of this part of the city differs in nothing from the rest of Toledo. The district orbits between the two ancient synagogues: Santa María la Blanca and Tránsito. It is difficult to find with certainty the topography of the old Jewish quarter. First of all, only very few writings or testimonies have been found to date. In addition, the Jewish community left the city after the violent pogrom of 1391, and again in 1492. The Jewish quarter fell completely into ruins until the second half of the 19C, where important reconstruction work took place. The rediscovery and rehabilitation of this district dates back to the 20C. However, the researchers have retraced with certainty the existence of several sub-districts: Arriasa, Sofer, Hamanzeit, Mármol (marble), and Degolladero (the slaughterhouse).

The Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca (St Mary the White)  was a Jewish place of worship ,then Catholic, and today a museum, located in Toledo. Built at 12C to serve as a synagogue, it was transformed into a church after the pogroms of the 14C.  Today it belongs to the Catholic Church which has made it into a museum open to the public.


The synagogue Santa María la Blanca was built in 1180 as evidenced by a date in Hebrew on one of the beams. Toledo was already reconquered by the Christian princes since 1085. It is a superb example of a mudejar style that looks more like a mosque than a synagogue, especially by the absence of a gallery for women. Also typically Mudejar are, the use of white and smooth walls made of bricks covered with cement and lime, the geometric decoration of the friezes, and vegetal style of the capitals.  The synagogue is characterized by five naves separated from pillars supporting horseshoe arches. It was transformed into a church from 1405 after what centuries later one would have called a pogrom perhaps led by Saint Vincent Ferrier.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to Santa Maria La Blanca are

Tourist office of Toledo on Santa Maria La Blanca

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Santa Maria la Blanca

The Tránsito Synagogue was built in 1357 by order of the treasurer of King Pedro I, Samuel Levi. Archaeological digs suggest that this imposing construction is probably located on the grounds of an older synagogue. In 1492, the Catholic Monarchs donated it to the military Order of Calatrava, which transformed it into a priory. During the Napoleonic Wars, it served as barracks.


It was joined by the Sefardí Museum, in the neighboring dependencies. As in many cases, the brick façade is austere and without decoration, but the interior is of great beauty. This is probably one of the best examples of Mudejar style in Spain. of harmonious dimensions with 23 meters long on 9.50 meters wide, and 17 meters high, it has a coffered ceiling in larch, richly adorned. With a special entrance, the Ladies ‘ day-care center is well lit by five large windows. It is the interior decoration that made this building famous with the wall that hosts the niche reserved for the Sifrei Torah, is covered with panels and a frieze of plaster carved in the oriental tradition. Many inscriptions run along the walls ,commemorating the name of Samuel Levi and Pedro I. Excerpts from the Psalms complete the décor illuminated by windows finely decorated with small columns and mashrabiyya of stone lace. In the dependencies, the museum exhibits donations and coins collected throughout Spain, which will allow you to explore the history of Spanish Judaism. Seminars, courses and lectures are organized during the year on topics related to Spanish Judaism. The synagogue is not used for worship.


The anecdote is that right outside there is gift shop held by an English lady for over 50 years living in Toledo. We made good talk on our several trips here and she has good stuff; does not know how long further as it seems there is no family takeover after she is gone. Maybe a chance to buy the place….


Some webpages to help you plan your visit to the Transito synagogue are

Tourist office of Toledo on the museum Sefardi at Transito

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Sefardi museum at Transito

There you go two gems to visit and it is a must while in gorgeous Toledo, the Santa Maria la Blanca and Trànsito synagogues are nice to visit; hope you enjoy the post.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



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March 16, 2019

Plaza de Toros de Cuenca!

And why not bring you back down to my beloved Spain, I had to say is the second most visited country in the world according to the UN-WTO statistics with about 85M visitors last year! And on Unesco World Heritage Sites we have Cuenca too.

However, I have written several posts on the town and surrounding, we love it there and spent several summers with the family high in the mountains of the Serrania de  Cuenca. This time let me tell you a bit more on the Plaza de Toro or bullfighting arena a real tradition of Spain even if nowdays not practice in certain areas.

The Plaza de Toros of Cuenca (bullfighting arena) is located at Avenida de los Reyes Catolicos, s/n on the road out of town near the Parque de Santa Ana. It was first built in 1848 with two floors and 5,000 spaces. Later, in 1913, another enclosure was built, which lasted only a few years.


The city council built the current enclosure or arena in 1926 with the present of Santa Coloma bulls, for the right-handed Marcial Lalande, “Valencia II ” and Martín Agüero. The square, of reinforced cement, has pens, twelve stalls and the necessary dependencies to make bullfights easier. The San Julian Fair, the last week of August, comes with a fairground installed and a series of activities take place such as theater, parade of floats, bullfights, circus, etc…. In addition to a wide and varied sports program that includes an equestrian competition. As a culmination to these festivities, you will see great fireworks.  We were lucky while here to see briefly the Fiesta de San Juliàn August 24th, the traditional feast of the town in honor of their patron Saint.


A bit of history I like

Cuenca had counted on three other bullrings before the current was built. The first was known as the Pintado or painting, located on the grounds occupied by the delegation of Finance of the local government, in the parque San Julián, annexed to other areas where the cinema Palmeras was.

The second arena, known as La Perdigana or, which was located on the site of what was then Cine Xúcar and Hotel.  The third plaza, in the neighborhood of Casablanca, to which it was known like the one of Caballeros or knights, inaugurated in 1913, and in which they acted the torero with swords ,the first of the 20C, among them Juan Belmonte, in 1915.  This square was shot down after the 1920 fair. Six years was Cuenca without bulls during the Fiestas of San Julián, occupying  the bullfighting part in the Plaza Mayor, as was done annually by the fairs of San Mateo or on the occasion of some extraordinary event. On September 5, 1927, in the new bullring in Cuenca as we know it today. It is good to tell you that the first special mention was the presence of Manuel Rodríguez “Manolete” three times, in the years 1943 and 1944. One of the greatest bullfighers of all time.

The bullring of the city of Cuenca, with a century of history, will conclude its works of consolidation of the structure and waterproofing, because of the numerous humidity’s that it presents, before the next bullfighting fair, in of August 2016.



Some webpages to help you plan your trip or you can ask me are

Tourist office of Cuenca on heritage sites

Maxitoro for info in season in Spanish

Entradas Toros Cuenca for info and ticketing in Spanish

The Fairs are in summer so as the time approaches look up the site Maxitoro  or Entradas Toros Cuenca, for ticket information and more on the contenders. It is an experience to live it at least once, and then some more… depending on your personal views which are many. The Plaza de  Toros of Cuenca another gem to see in the historical town. Hope you enjoy the post.

And remember ,happy travels, good health;, and many cheers to all!!!



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