We were taken to a sword shop on the way out of town. They demonstrated how the swords are made and the fascinating (and painstakingly detailed) process called damascene, which involves inlaying gold into the non-precious metals. It originated with the Arabs in Damascus, Syria and came to Spain with the Moorish conquest.
Quite different from the commonly accepted dictionary definition of damascene, what they sell in Toledo today is what might be called inlay damascene in metal working. What they are showing off is the high quality adornment of a sword rather than the "true damascene" which has more to do with the steel composition of the sword, the folding together of metal and its properties. Please see the link below for a more in depth discussion of the technique from a metal working perspective.
Naturally they had all variety of swords available for sale. I remember reading about the quality of Toledo swords before, particularly from a series of articles in our newspaper that interviewed sword connoisseurs, who without exception said that Toledo swords were of the highest quality available.
You will probably spent at least a few hundred dollars for a good sword and the shop was more than willing to send it to you if you didn't want to take it on the plane. I would guess you would have to make special arrangements with your air carrier, checked baggage of course:)
What to pay: at least $200 US
One thing you can buy to take home is a box of Toledo Marzipan. Of course, if you are used to German marzipan, it will taste quite different. I found it a bit more choclatey. But marzipan is always good! Locally made
Toledo is a great place to pick up souvenirs and inexpensive gifts.
Spanish shawls for instance that were Euro 50 - 85 in Madrid, I bought in Toledo for Euro 30 each. All my friends got one :)
Steel knives and swords (don't know if you can fly them home or not) are available in all sizes and prices. Much less expensive than anywhere else.
Even picture postal cards are cheaper, running about 30 Euro cents each rather than 50 Euro cents as in most other places in Spain.
Toledo swords have always been famous even back to Hannibal’s day, who used them for his army. Other notables such as Cid Campeador, King Charles IV, D’Artagnan and his Musketeers as well as Japan’s famous Samurai’s found the Toledo steel to be of exceptional quality.
In the stores you will see some beautiful Damascene plates and large platters some with arabesques and others with geometric designs or religious patterns. You can also find lovely damascene jewellery. It seems however that most of this jewellery ware is for the tourist and the local or Spanish tourist rarely purchase it for wear.
This store is housed in a 100 year old factory is in a small square. The have a large selection of swords, some modelled on the swords of El Cid, Garcia Peredes, Francisco Pizarro and Alfonso X not to mention the religion order of warrior monks, the Knights Templars. The store offers delivery to your home country to avoid problems at airports.
There is no shortage of places to buy souveniers in Toledo. There is a wide variety of choices to tempt all interests from local marzipan, local produce and cheeses especially Manchego cheeses to painted tiles, walking sticks, knives and swords to anything to do with Don Quijote and El Greco.
What to buy: Toledo
Toledo is not a big city so it hasn't got lots of shops, but some.
If you're looking for clothes there are different areas in which you could find them: Luz del Tajo and Puerta de Toledo (shopping centers), and Santa Teresa and the Old Town (districts).The advantage of going to shopping centers is that they have more products, but you will need a car or to go by bus cause they are far away from the city.In the Old Town there is a specific street called Comercio st in which clothing shops are concentrated and which is usually crowded. In Santa Teresa district there are mainly sports shops. I, for one, as a teenager, like Groovy (Luz del tajo and Sta Teresa) and Pull and Bear (Luz del Tajo and the Old town).
What to buy: In Toledo there are some special items you should shop for, as "damasquinos" or medieval weapons.
Toledo is a medieval city and that's why it still preserves some ancient traditions as making damasquino and antique weapons. Damasquinos is a decorative art wich consists of in-laying iron and steel with gold and silver. In the Old Town there are many shops that do this task. There are also a lot of shops which make swords and other medieval weapons and which are very famous within the country.
Just about every souvenir shop in Toledo has wonderful displays of pottery amd plates etched in a traditional way. They also sell beautiful jewellery, especially wonderful hoop earings. Check these out, because exactly the same items are much more expensive in Madrid.
There are some fantastic examples of medievil armour in just about every souvenir shop in Toledo. They range in price , the average probably being around $2000. If this is too steep, then individual pieces of armor are sold seperately eg helmet, gloves, which can start you on the road to becoming a modern day knight. Wonderful displays of shields as well.
There are numerous shops selling the world famous Toledo swords. Apparently, The Templar Knights placed high value on swords from Toledo and the old town is brimming with shops selling them. They range in price from 10-15 Euros to thousands, but for the enthusiast, reasonable swords can be obtained for reasonable prices. There are so many shops that we spent almost the entire day looking at them. This is a definately fascinating town for boys.
The sellers are happy to ship any swords back home, however check with your customs departments about required permits
Buy things from silver or steel, small knifes or big swords! Young or old boys will love it! :) I loved the small figures of Don Quijote and Sancho Panzo.
There many shops with this kind of stuff so take a look in sme of them before you choose what to buy.
Knives, swords and everything sharp just ready for the next war game. Your kids will be well-armed and ready to take on the bad guys after a visit to one of the many shops in Toledo selling all the sharp things.
Not sure what happens when you try and get onto an aircraft, or get through security at a rail station - the knives and swords might cause a little bit of suspicion.
These shops are all over the city. The city depends on tourism, so do your part and at least buy a postcard. These shops are packed full of stuff. Becareful walking through because everything is expensive, and you need to watch yourself walking through and not knock anything on the floor. They have the policy, you break it you buy it!
I wish I would have gotten a photo of the huge sword selection!
What to buy: I haven't ever seen so many swords in my whole life. As a tourist, i just don't know why anyone would want to buy one of those huge 4ft. swords. How do you get it home? Especially now with the flying problems, i think your "souvenir" is considered a weapon!
What to pay: What is a good deal on a sword these days anyway?
Another famous handicraft of Toledo is damascene, from the ancient Moorish art of interlacing gold on iron or steel, then firing it so the underlying material oxidizes and becomes black, with the gold in sharp relief. Every shop in Toledo will carry some form of damascene work, most frequently as small decorative plates and jewellery. Damascene also tends to be on the expensive side, so be sure to comparison shop around Toledo.
What to buy: Jewelry.