If you really want to experience the magic, visit Toledo, also known as The Imperial City at sunset.
Two medieval bridges cross the river and on the left rises the 16th century Alcazar whereas on the right the spires and towers of the cathedral are silhouetted against the sinking sun.
To complete the ´movie set ´both buildings and the narrow streets and houses below are illuminated.
Toledo is located approximately 70 kilometers south of Madrid and is a town with a long history.
It flourished during Roman times, followed by the Visigoths, the Caliphate of Cordoba and the conquest by Alfonso VI of Castile in 1065.
Each and every culture left its marks and well preserved buildings but the majority date from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
The cathedral, built between 1226 and 1493 is a mixture of many styles.
Most prominently the seven story high baroque altar.
The Alcazar opposite was the seat of the royal court until it was moved frist to Valladolid and later to Madrid.
Tolerance and peaceful coexistence between Christians, Muslims and Jews was a prominent feature of the culture here until the Jews were expelled from Spain. During the ´good times´ Toledo was also a center for learning and translations.
Toledo Old Town
Dive into history by walking the steep cobblestone streets of the Old Town.
In fact, many are so narrow that a car can hardly pass.
Discover the archways, churches, monasteries and medieval town houses.
Since 500 BC Toledo was famous for the production of the finest swords and weapons, a craft which extends to the present day, although today the products are less lethal.
Crete born painter, sculptor and architect Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco moved to Toledo in 1577.
He lived and worked in Toledo until his death on 7th April 1614.
Works of art from all over the world have come to Toledo on loan and are exhibited in the reconstruction of the master´s house and other museums.
Visit the website of El Greco Foundation – More than 350 images of paintings, slideshow, biography and more!
Of course it must be a Hotel El Greco here, and it’s in a building from the 17th century, only some footsteps from the El Greco Museum.
Stay in a former palace
Many of the old buildings and palaces have been converted to hotels.
The former palace of the Eugenia de Montijo, Autograph Collection Hotel offers style and comfort.
Tours and more things to see and do in Toledo
More from Spain
Bordeaux – The French Wine Capital
Bordeaux is, after all, the capital of one of the world’s premier wine producing regions, making the area around 14.5 billion euros per year. But wine is not the only thing that this city has to offer. The ninth largest city in France, it is the capital of the Aquitaine region and is located in the south west of France, on the Garonne River. Although it’s inland Bordeaux is a port city with a historical center that’s been listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Just say the name, Bordeaux, and you instantly think of wine!
Bordeaux is, after all, the capital of one of the world’s premier wine producing regions, making the area around 14.5 billion euros per year.
But wine is not the only thing that this city has to offer.
The ninth largest city in France, it is the capital of the Aquitaine region and is located in the south west of France, on the Garonne River.
Although it’s inland Bordeaux is a port city with a historical center that’s been listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What To See and Do in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is best known for its wine, and if you enjoy a glass or two, you can explore some of the region where one of the world’s best known wines are produced.
There’s more to the city than just wine; architecture features prominently, especially in the historic heart of the city which is home to one of the largest 18th century architectural urban areas in Europe.
Touring the Vineyards
As the second largest wine growing area in the world, the region surrounding the city is certainly not short of a vineyard or two.
You can get out of the city and explore some of these on your own, or make use of the many vineyard tours that are offered through a large number of tour operators in Bordeaux.
Organised tours are not for everyone but they do have their advantages, one of the major ones being you won’t have to worry about driving after all the wine tasting you’re going to do!
For a higher cost you can get a tailor-made tour that takes you exactly where you want to go, and you won’t have to share a minibus with other passengers.
You can also consider timing your visit to the city to coincide with the annual summer wine festivals for even more opportunity to sample some of the excellent local wines and culture.
Main Sights in Bordeaux
Bordeaux really does have a vast collection of beautiful historic architecture and the city was recognised for this by being awarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are actually 362 historic monuments, and within the whole France, only Paris beats this number.
Among the more than three hundred monuments picking out the best is a challenge so maybe head for ones that particularly interest you.
There are countless churches for example, if you enjoy religious architecture, and many of these are Gothic in style.
The Basilica of Saint Michael is one example of Gothic – it’s Flamboyant Gothic built between the 14th and 16th centuries.
Saint Andre, or Bordeaux Cathedral is another major church. It was consecrated in 1096 and the structure dates from the centuries following.
Place des Quinconces is a very major landmark. It is one of, if not the largest, city squares in Europe covering an area of about 31 acres (126,000 square metres).
Its centre is a large expanse of nothing, though to the sides are mature trees that were planted when the square was constructed.
The river sits at the eastern end of the square, separated by a road, while at the western end is the major monument of the square which was erected between 1894 and 1902.
The two botanical gardens of the city are nice places to relax after a day of admiring the urban architecture.
Jardin Botanique de la Bastide is on the right bank of the Garonne while the older Jardin Public is opposite across the river.
Events and Festivals in Bordeaux
One of the main events in Bordeaux is the big wine festival arranged every other year. “Fete le Vin”.
Where to Stay
Bordeaux is a relatively large city but if you’re here for the main tourist attractions these are mostly concentrated around the city centre.
So choose a centrally located hotel to stay in and you should have no trouble seeing the main sights.
There are numerous hotels set around the locality of the train station, though this is by no means the only place to stay.
If you’re looking for grandeur and luxury the city certainly has hotels to suit your tastes.
There are some great 5 star hotels including Grand Hotel de Bordeaux and Spa which is in the heart of the historic center, opposite the Grand Theatre.
This really is a magnificent hotel with all the features you would expect.
Close by is the 4 star rated Hotel de Seze, another good option for a centrally located hotel.
An other great hotel is Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux, also in the city center.
Getting to the City
Just 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) outside the city, in the town of Merignac, is the Bordeaux-Merignac Airport.
It’s the sixth busiest in France in terms of passenger numbers and handles airlines from all over Europe throughout the year.
A public bus and a shuttle bus both provide transfer options from the airport into the city, or you can rent a car and drive the short distance yourself.
However, parking and driving in the city itself can be a hassle with expensive parking rates and narrow streets.
Best Times to Visit
You may not expect it, but Bordeaux has more rainfall than Paris or London though it is warmer than both of these cities thanks to its more southerly latitude.
The driest months coincide with the hottest of the year, so July and August are definitely good times to visit.
The average high in both months will be around 26.5 C. Visiting either side of July and August will bring warm temperatures too, and slightly quieter attractions, though the compromise is a little more rainfall.
Despite the rain, the city is actually very sunny with close to 2000 hours of sunshine per year!
More from Bordeaux and France
Autumn brings some warming festivals in Europe in October
As the leaves change color and the weather turns cooler signalling the arrival of autumn, festival season winds down from the hectic summer months. Although that said, there are still plenty of great options available for festival lovers. Food and drink festivals are the highlight of the autumn months.
Let’s look at some festivals in Europe in October to make it warmer
As the leaves change color and the weather turns cooler signalling the arrival of autumn, festival season winds down from the hectic summer months.
Although that said, there are still plenty of great options available for festival lovers.
Food and drink festivals are the highlight of the autumn months.
More Festivals in Europe Around the Year
Festivals in Europe in September
Each month offers a great variety of festivals across Europe, and September is no exception. It’s a big month for festivals in Germany and Spain, with beer, wine and gourmet food featuring. Here’s a peek into what September has to offer.
Each month offers a great variety of festivals across Europe, and September is no exception.
It’s a big month for festivals in Germany and Spain, with beer, wine and gourmet food featuring.
Here’s a peek into what September has to offer.