On line and in tour guides you will find reference to the “El Greco house” or the “El Greco Museum” in Toledo, Spain. The problem is that it is not El Greco’s house and he never lived there and the art in the house is all copies.
About 200 years after El Greco died a wealthy man wanted to buy the house El Greco had lived in in Toledo to create a museum. He bought some property with run-down buildings on it but found out that it was across the road from where El Greco had lived and that the original El Greco home/buildings were gone. He went ahead and restored the not-El Greco house buildings and bought period furnishings and got copies made of numerous El Greco paintings and distributed them through the buildings and advertised it as El Greco’s house and it has been listed as such for years. It is not particularly expensive but it appears to be completely fake.
Unique Suggestions: I don't see any reason to go to this place. It is not El Greco's house. It is about 6 times bigger than his described house in historical texts and is not shaped the same and does not have any of his furnishings or possessions or original art.
Fun Alternatives: Go to one of the large, well accepted museums like the Prado and see real El Greco paintings.
In this square you can learn at least two new spanish words I bet you didn't know.
The first one is "clavada". That's the way we, the Spaniards, describe the fact of being charged way too far for a simple drink or meal. In Zocodóver you can find very neat examples. Or, how would you call it when they charge you 2,43 euros for a milk coffee, 4,50 for a beer? Yeah, that's very close to "rip off" in English. Specially if, when you ask the price of an assortment of mazapán to the waitress, while you are sitting in the terraza, answers 8,50 and then she charges you around 10,50 euros. Definitely unpleasant.
The other one is "cutre". It's a very frequent adjective that conveys a sense of shame and disappointment towards a person, business or institution. Zocodóver is the "heart" of social life in Toledo, the "meeting point" (for foreigners) but, a great number of bus lines fill the square with noise, the cars add some nasty smoke and those begging for money or delivering advertisement leaflets (and the policemen after them) make the tourist just uncomfortable. McDonalds the pidgeons flying around add some "cutrez" (noun) to the whole. No charm at all. I will avoid it in future visits.
Unique Suggestions: Look for mazapán somewhere else and before asking for a drink in Zocodóver have a glance to the "lista de precios", the public document every bar or cafetería should post somewhere visible in the facilities.
I guess the most "typical" souvenir you can get in Toledo is a sword - these are all over the place but over the years they seem to have gone from genuine to made-in-China, Walt-Disneyesque swords. In fact, it is now possible to buy a replica of all the swords you might have seen in movies, from Gladiator to Lord of the Rings. Still, if you really want to get one, I'd suggest trying to find out where it was made before coughing up the money.
Unique Suggestions: While swords displays are upfront and center, you might be able to find other nice souvenirs at the back of the shop, including letter openers that are shaped like swords (at least you get some use out of them and they aren't as expensive).
The cathedral is famously huge and a wonderful example of church architecture. However the entrance is rather hidden away in a back street.
The entry fee was €7.50, which I thought was pretty steep. We had very limited time so decided to pass on the interior and just view the outside.
There are some teen romanian girls with petition papers that interpel you to give money for some spanish deaf/mute association.
This is a scam! They are not raising money for that purpose.
There are more tourist locations where you can find the same type of scam.
Unique Suggestions: Just say no.
In all tourism locations restaurants can be a trap.
Unique Suggestions: Check out if the prices in the menu include VAT (normally the menu doesn't include it).
If they charge you with VAT in the end, than ask for a "factura" (receipt/invoice) - it must have the "Número de identificación fiscal" of the restaurant otherwise it is not valid and the restaurant owner keeps the vat charged for himself.
Check out when its is said that the drinks are included what type of drinks are they talking about (normally is only water and beer).
Be prepared to pay between 15 - 25 € per person.
Fun Alternatives: You have a McDonalds near the main square.
For the breakfast it opens from 10:00 am to 11:30.
In Toledo you may find a great deal of shops selling swords and armour.
Beware that many are imitations imported from China/India.
Unique Suggestions: If you want to buy a real toledo sword be prepared to pay more than 100€, also you can distinguish the real ones from the imitations by seeking the inscription "Made in Spain" in the blade.
Warning: there are swords that only have "Toledo" on the blade and are sold as the real ones.
Another thing the roman/greek armours and helmets are not made in Toledo. Those are imported and overpriced.
Spanish phones are very, very expensive when calling overseas. After spending in phone booths a lot of Euros, i learnt my lesson!
Fun Alternatives: A friend gave me a number that he uses and he gets much cheaper rates.
I call through this number which is 902 99 53 01, from any land line or phone booth, and all i pay is just 4 cents a minute at nights and e, or 6 cents at daytime. It is also so easy to use, i have been using it for 4 months now. highly recommended!!!
I've used it to call the US, UK, France, Italy and some other places where i have friends. I think they have more than 60 countries, so chances are yours will be listed.
When you dial the number, 902 99 53 01, and then get the operator, just press 1, and 00 plus your country code and your friends number. Believe is worth it! I think you can use it form a mobile phone also with rates around 20 cents a minute or something like that.
if you want details or list of countries the page is www.iCallCheap.com in English and www.TelefonoBarato.com in Spanish. just check it out, you'll thank me :)
A quick way to visit the city of Toledo is by taking the 'Zocotren' which is rather an uncomfortable way because the ride is quite bumpy and jumpy all the way. There are also some fantastic views but one cannot take proper photos as the tourist train does not stop on the way. Really if you have the time, the best way is by going on foot as you are sure not to miss anything interesting ! ! !
Prices for the tickets are; Adults 3.80 Euros, Children 2.1Euros
One can take the train rides from Zucodover Square.
Some people might like this way to see the city, comfortably seated, but Toledo is really a walkable city, I think its main charm is to be discovered in every little corner as you walk around it.
Anyway, if anyone wants to ride it, it departs from Zocodover Square...
If you need a standard map of the city, go to any of the Tourist Info offices where they will give you a free map of the city with the main museums times and prices and other interesting facts.
If you are coming for a daytrip, you won't need more.
There are tourist offices at Town Hall Square, Bisagra Gate, Zocodover...
You know, if you really think about it, Toledo is a tourist trap. The place is overrun with tourists. In my case, they were French high-schoolers. I'm sure a ton of Americans and Brits pass through regularly. It's got some great potential, but the whole atmosphere is just a little too cheezy for my tastes.
I also dislike the concept of paying 100 pesetas to visit the church of Santo Tome to see the Burial of the Count of Orgaz by El Greco, only to find that the only thing you can see is the one painting. Nice, but 100 pesetas nice? Probably. That's only US$0.66, but still. It's the whole concept of paying to see things that I disagree with. Viva the Smithsonian!
This internet place was close to Plaza de Zocodover and was one of two places that I noticed in the historic part of Toledo.
Unique Suggestions: Just stop in for a minute and check your VT email!