Toledo – 17/10/2014

October still had remnants of summer’s sweltering attitude, which makes one feel adventurous for new experience under the sun. So like dancing smoke, I escaped the mouth of thermal teapot Madrid.

And found the exquisite Toledo beneath my feet.

It’s known as the “city of three cultures,” because Jews, Muslims, and Christians successfully cohabited there for many centuries.

Trifecta of Religions.

During our present condition, where religions go to war for moral reasoning and politicians use beliefs as a platform for power, I find it comforting to know it’s possible to have differences and still thrive.

Toledo is a cultural legacy, boasting of many different artistic styles of architecture. The city is lined with churches, palaces, synagogues, and even a fortress. The clash of culture and art really is the epitome of the idea that a diverse population needs a diverse environment to succeed.

This building is my favorite in Toledo and has a very interesting history.

It began as a Visigothic church, and then was later turned into the site for the Great Mosque, but now presides as the Toledo Cathedral. The cathedral’s architecture reflects both religions flawlessly. On the right, the dome shape is a proclamation of Islamic influence, but then to the left, the tall slim pointed portion is a reflection of the gothic movement (French inspired in the case of this cathedral).

Not only is the outside impressive, but the Toledo Cathedral also houses two paintings from El Greco.

Growing up with two older brothers, I was exposed to many hero based cartoons… which had a common motif of the sword. And thus began my obsession with the sharp pointed weapons, and my desire to possess and effectively wield one.

So before coming to Toledo, I didn’t know it was famous for sword making, which basically registers as “heaven” to me.

During the Middle Ages, Toledo was known for the type of steel it produced for weaponry, and so began its fame.

Surprisingly, I didn’t buy one. But I was very tempted to, however as an American, even with the right documentation and official papers, I don’t think I could get a sword past border check.

Buuuuut it’s not going to stop me from trying. I plan on returning to Toledo before I head back home, and fulfilling my childhood dream by purchasing one. I just didn’t find one that spoke to me.

I know after awhile the architecture all seems to blur and pictures of buildings become the same photographs with different lighting.

However, I think it’s so important to understand art and the history it preserves.

Art imitates life, life imitates art.

Because it’s our stories that survive our lives. It’s our stories that make our lives worth living.. and every single human being has one. And that idea more than anything just really gets under my skin when I think about it long enough.

Art isn’t only architecture or paintings, at least not for me.

Art is a way of life. It’s all the books you’ve read, and all the bands that make your heart beat a little faster. It’s the way your mom hugs you a little longer after a long absence. It’s the way you style your hair, and the manner in which you dress. It’s the way you treat a child after they’ve done something foolish, and it’s the manner in which you talk to your elders. It’s the way you choose to eat your spaghetti, and also the color of wine you prefer. It’s the way your eyes shine brighter during a passionate discussion, and the ways we find ourselves hiding our inner darkness from the world. It’s the way you hold a lover’s hand, is your thumb protectively on top, or intimately vulnerable underneath?

All of these collective experiences and actions that we each possess within ourselves is art.

People think art is created.. and although I agree to an extent, I think art is so much more. I think people are art, and whatever they do (painting, music, sports) and however they feel the experiences of their schema, it’s all just an expression of their soul; an extension of their story.

It’s important to know history, it’s important to know people.. and it’s so important to “know thyself.”

Alas, man’s ancient quest for knowledge does not evade me.

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