Toledo is a perfectly preserved medieval city, but less than hour away from Madrid by train. The city has 2,000+ years of history - important to the empires of the Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and at one point, headquarters for Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V (Carlos I). Toledo is also famous for its swords, and kid will be fascinated by replicas of famous swords in the shops.

Gates to the city - Toledeo is a great city to explore on foot, with medieval gates, Arab walls, bridges over the Tagus River (Rio Tajo), twisty winding streets, and a great sense of adventure.
Puerta de Nueva Bisagra (New Bisagra Gate) - Start your explorations at the solid Renaissance city gate, flanked by two circular towers. The gate is emblazoned with the coat of arms of Charles V - the double headed eagle.
Go east to Puerta de Alfonso VI, the Old Bisagra Gate, which was originally the main gate to the city. The Puerta de Alfonso VI dates back to the 10th century, with a horseshoe stone arch.
Walk up the hill to the Puerta de Sol (Gate of the Sun), one of the most beautiful Mudejar (Moorish style) gates in Spain. Constructed in 14th century out of granite and brick, with lacey arches, crenellated parapet, and sun and moon medallion over the horseshoe door. Look up at the little tiny window in the first set of arches - it was used for carrier pigeons.
The Moorish neighborhood was situated around Puerta del Sol, so while you're there, stop into the Mosque Cristo de la Luz (Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz), completed in 999 AD.
From Puerta del Sol, continue up the road to the Plaza Zocodover.
Tip: At Puerta de Alfonso VI, if you have little kids, take the long escalators (escaleras mecanicas) up the hill (saves walking up the steeper hills). Also, at the entrance to the escalators, there's a small children's playground and benches. No strollers on the escalator.
Arab city walls - The inhabitants of Toledo were a rebellious lot, and for centuries the city was routinely attacked by one group or the other. Whole sections of city walls, constructed in the 10th century, are beautifully preserved.
Start at Puerta de Cambron (Cambron Gate), entrance to the old Jewish quarter. The gate was also living quarters for the guards. Check out the original massive iron-covered doors as you go through the gate.
To the east of the gate, walk along the old walls, you can go all the way to Puerta de Alfonso VI. The solid stone walls are punctuated with rounded parapets at regular intervals. The square tower dates back to the Visigoths, who defended the city against Moors.
Bridges - Toledo is a city high on a hill, surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River (Rio Tajo). The river, with steep banks on either side, was a natural defense for the city, but fortified bridges were essential for people going in and out of the city to the east and west.
Puente de Alcantara (Alcantara Bridge) - Puente de Alcantara on the eastern side of Toledo is the oldest bridge, "Al Qantara" means bridge in Arabic, but there's been bridge at this location since Roman times. On the Toledo side of the river, walk through the original gate tower, ornamented with the coat of arms of the Catholic Monarchs, over the pedestrian stone bridge to the other side. Across the way you'll see San Servando Castle, where according to legend, El Cid spent the night. Look back toward Toledo for a super view of the Alcazar fortress.
Punte de San Martin (Bridge of San Martin) -The western bridge of Toledo, the Punte de San Martin, is a 14th century building marvel - a solid stone bridge with five arches, over 130 ft. long (40 meters) long, 88 ft. (27 meters) high. (This is a fun walk to get to the bridge - start at Puerta de Cambron, walk west along the old city wall, for great views of the bridge over the river, then continue down the promenade to the bridge.)
Catedral (Cathedral)- The Cathedral of Toledo, often compared for beauty with Notre Dame, is not only one of the biggest Gothic cathedrals around, but the monumental interior is totally covered with sculpture, paintings, carvings, massive gold and silver altar pieces, and illuminated with 750 stained glass windows. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the cathedral evokes the opulence of Toledo, the "Imperial City."
El Transparente - Kids can really relate to this gilded, marble Baroque altar, several stories high, and filled with Mary, the baby Jesus, many chubby cherubs smiling, rubbing noses, sleeping (real babies were certainly the models for cherubs on the altar).
Choir - Don't miss the lower row of carved wooden choir stalls, 54 different seats, carved in walnut wood, each choir stall has a different scene of battles between the Catholic Monarchs and Moors in Granada, and the armrests are decorated with marvelous mythical animals. In the center of the choir is lovely statue of Mary and Jesus.
Treasury - Take a turn through the treasury, with exquisite examples of golden crosses studded with gems, a sailing ship reliquary, and 16th century communion vessel that looks like a miniature Gothic cathedral, is covered with emeralds, gold and silver, and weighs hundreds of pounds.
Visit a sword shop -Watch the craft of sword making in Fabrica Zamorano (Calle de la Ciudad 19, the plaza at Convento Santa Ursula). Full size swords are made by hand, tempered and polished - you can see them shaping the swords, with sparks flying.
Jewish Quarter - During the Middle Ages, the Jewish quarter in Toledo extended from the Cathedral area to Puerta de Cambron. Despite a vibrant community, with the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, the quarter essentially ceased to exist. At that time, the synagogues were converted to Christian churches, but you can visit two of the synagogues today, beautiful examples of the long history of the Jews in Spain.
Synagogue Maria la Blanca - The name of the synagogue "Mary the White" is totally appropriate - the interior is filled with pristine white horseshoe columns, plastered and carved with geometric designs.
Synagogue El Transito - Built by Samuel Levi, treasurer of King Don Pedro I, this 14th century synagogue looks pretty plain from the outside, but the inside is a mini-Alhambra - hand carved coffered ceiling, niches for the Torah, lattice windows with Arabic lettering (Muslim craftsmen built the synagogue) and the Psalms of David in Hebrew characters along the top. Adjoining the synagogue is the Sephardic Museum (Museo Sefardi), with exhibits documenting the history of the Jews and ancient artifacts from all over Spain.
Next to the Synagogue El Transito, there's a nice little park area with a small playground for toddlers, benches (bring a picnic), snack bar and views of the Tagus River.
El Greco's House and Museum (Casa-Museo de El Greco) - Visit this house-museum to get a feel of what life was like at the end of the 16th century - tiled kitchen, sewing room; painting studio, charming interior patio. (El Greco didn't live in this particular house in Toledo, but the furnishings bring to life the time in which he painted.)
Most of El Greco's painting aren't here in Toledo, but you can see his masterpiece, Burial of Count Orgaz, in Iglesia de Santo Tome.
El Alcazar - The four towers of this palace rise dramatically above the city. Originally built in the 14th century, its design is mostly 16th century Renaissance, although it's been rebuilt, having been badly damaged in the Spanish Civil War. What you'll want to see inside the Alcazar is the Museo del Ejercito, a collection of swords and weapons.
Tip: Take a walk from the Alcazar through the maze of streets to the Cathedral. Wander down winding cobblestone streets, lined on either side with ochre and brown buildings, decorated with studded wooden doors - centuries past are right in front of you.
Zoco Train (Plaza de Zocodover) - During the Moorish era, Zocodover was originally a livestock market, now it's a pretty plaza and a nice place to relax at any time of the day in a cafe (very popular with locals). Here you can pick up the red "ZocoTren," a small tram that goes in a loop around the city, and perfect if you have little kids.
Tip: Get detailed free tourist maps of Toledo at the three tourist offices around town. These tourist maps are great, as they have all the streets marked.
The swords of Toledo were as prized as the horses of Andalucia across Europe. Damascene (metal inlaid with gold thread) is one of the arts brought from the east, perfected in this city. Swords shops are filled with swords in all shapes and sizes, plus medieval armor, but just remember, if you're flying home, the sword will need to fit into your luggage (that letter opener size sword may be your best bet). There's also a big selection of mantons de manila, embroidered silk shawls, or Arabic-styled enamel boxes.

Fun food
Toledo is especially well known for sweets: look for almond paste marzipan, a hold-over from Moors, made into marquesas, a marzipan cupcake dusted with powdered sugar, or try ponche toledanas, found only here: shortcakes filled with quince jam and topped by almonds.
Family Hotels

Here's our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels, all styles and price ranges, convenient to fun things to do with kids in Toledo:

Toledo hotels
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