Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Town of Toro - Part Two

Originally we had planned to spend all three days, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in Salamanca and return Monday afternoon. But the desk clerk advised us that on Monday everything would be closed. So we decided to go to Toro that day instead.

Toro is an unbelievably beautiful municipality in the province of Zamora, part of the autonomous community of Castille-Leon. It's high above a fertile plain known for its wines (from the Tempranillo grape), and recently Rajan has gotten interested in Toro wines, so that was also part of the inspiration for the trip. You can see how the buildings beckon one from afar.

This is the kind of country we traveled through to get there. Beautiful, and lush and green. Appartently a lot of farming goes on in this region. But the Toro region is becoming more and more known for its wines. When we arrived and parked, we started walking around and one of the first areas of interest we came to was an overlook point with a plaza around an old, intact wall enclosing a rectangular area with round towers at various points. A gardener told me was from Roman times. (My Spanish is still limited, so I couldn't really learn much more from him than that.) Here it is:

One view of the structure at one corner.
There were towers at each corner and
also in the middle of each side of the
 From the enclosure's condition, it may actually be from a later date. I looked Toro up in Wikipedia, and Toro was once a Roman town. The article mentions remains of a wall going back to 910, but, as you can see here, this is far more than "remains."
Another view. Each corner
had a round tower.

Heavy doors were in walls on each
side of the structure.
 Since battles took place in Toro between heirs vying for the Spanish throne, this might actually have been a fortress. Plaques mentioned the crowning of King Ferdinand III in 1230, and that Isabella I of Castille defeated Juana La Beltraneja there, and that her father, Juan II of Castille, was born in Toro in 1404. But if anyone else can find out more for me about the structure itself, I'd appreciate the information. (Isabella I, by the way, was the Isabella who married Ferdinand II of Aragon, and they are the famous couple behind the Inquisition in Spain and the financing of Columbus's voyage to what became known in Europe as "the New World.")

The Rio Duero

Red tile roofs that seem so typical.

Since it really is a grand look-out point, Rajan and I took tons of pictures of the vast plains and the Rio Duero below. (The Rio Duero cuts through northern and Central Spain and flows on south to become the Rio Douro in Portugal, which ends at Porto.) Here are a couple.

Here is a video he took that I think you will enjoy:

Then we all wandered around the beautiful city, admiring the architecture and the color of the buildings. Here are some pictures of a church that is considered a "must see" in Toro, Collegiate church of Santa María la Mayor.

The buildings have such a
golden tone. 

I felt like I was in Oz, at the
end of the yellow brick road.

Here is the building in all its
One of the wine shops was open and the man inside was very knowledgeable about wines and wineries from the region. He spoke in Spanish, and we could understand most of what he said, but luckily our friends David and Terri are quite fluent, and so they were able to tell us whatever we missed. There are a number of wineries all around, but, again, most of them were closed. Still, it's good information for the future, and we bought some wine from the shop.

Meanwhile, the town was bustling with people out and about. I saw a beautiful arch at one end of a street, and a woman told me that it had been made with wine. Seriously. I think what she meant was that wine was mixed with the clay instead of water. But what a unique feature! She also tole me there was another arch at the other end of town, so of course I had to go there.

People out and about.

The arch made with wine,
which may account for
its color.

The other arch. Presumbably
not made with wine. 
After that, it seemed time to go, as there was a long drive home to Galicia and our part of Galicia. But it was a day well spent, and we were so glad that we had decided to take this little side trip on such a beautiful day. 

I  hope you enjoyed this little peek into this area of Spain. The next posts will still be about the earlier weeks in Galicia, before our trip to Braga, Portugal; and then I will follow up with pictures and posts about Braga, a most remarkable and wonderful city.

Till then, please leave a comment, and if you have any questions, I'll try to answer them. Also, if you have any additional information for us about Toro, please leave it. The turism office was closed that day, and there isn't an awful lot on line about this beautiful town.


Optimistic Existentialist said...

Oh wow Elizabeth, Toro looks like a place that I should add to my bucket list! I really do want to visit Spain someday. It'll be easier now that I will be living in Europe later this year!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Keith. How exciting that you will be living in Spain later this year. For hor long? And where? We just love Spain, so I'm glad it's on your bucket list. But in general we just love Europe, too. Keep me posted.

Rosi said...

Thanks to you and Rajan for the virtual tour of Toro. It looks like a lovely place.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi, glad you liked the "tour". It was such a pretty town. I'd like to go back when we can take in the wineries, but it's too far away from us for a one day trip. I sure would like to know more about the town.

writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

You and Rajan make a good team. You're enjoying your lives to the fullest. Keep showing us your travels.

Julia Hones said...

Thank you for this beautiful post, Elizabeth. I learned a lot and I enjoyed the pictures.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks, Richard, I feel we're a good team too. I can't believe how travel has made such an impact on my psyche, and particularly the Iberian Peninsula. The people are lovely, and the old buildings give me such a connection to history.

Julia, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and pictures. I always enjoy your posts so much.

Murees Dupè said...

How beautiful. It must have been wonderful to see so many great sights up-close. Thank you for sharing your travels with us.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Murees, thanks for stopping by. We have friends who grew up in England who are used to buildings that are hundreds of years old, and my in-laws in India are used to buildings that are thousands of years old. But, coming from America, I still find it awe-inspiring to touch a building that has so much history.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Wow Elizabeth, Toro looks like an amazing place. I would love to visit it. Thanks for the lovely pictures.

Tanya Reimer said...

Oh my. Your posts and pics are so inspiring! Enjoy your stay.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rachna, amazing is the word. I would like to visit it again with more time to spend there and when the tourism office would be open so I could learn more about the history.

Tanya, I'm glad you find the posts and pictures inspiring. It was such a beautiful place.

Jon said...

What an amazing and spectacular city! I especially love the buildings - - and I laughed when I heard about the arch that was "built with wine".

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Jon, yes, "spectacular" is the word. It was just amazing to be plunked down in the middle of this old, old city.

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Fascinating buildings. What better reason to travel than to learn more about architecture and wines.
Thanks for visiting my site, Elizabeth.

Jessica Lawson said...

Wonderful, wonderful photos! Makes me wish I'd traveled more when I lived in Sevilla!

Sarah Allen said...

New place for my to-go list? I think so!

Sarah Allen
(From Sarah, With Joy)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Gail, yes, that is one aspect I enjoy so much in these unexpected days of travel. I've enjoyed so much learning, not just about the architecture, but the culture and language and history of an area. I feel like my world has expanded so much.

Hi, Jessica, we still haven't made it to Sevilled, but we are hoping to, one day. When you have time, I'd love to hear more about your time spent in Seville.

Sarah, if you travel or get the chance too, I would definitely put this on your "to go to" list.
Thanks for stopping by.

Stacy Henrie said...

Love the architecture! I've not ever thought much about visiting Spain, but your pictures are a convincing reason to consider it. :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Stacy. Yes, the architecture in Spain is very haunting. You just feel the history in the buildings. I'm glad this encourages you to consider visiting Spain.

Misha Gerrick said...

Issabella and Ferdinand were also Henry VIII's first parents in law. ;-)

Lovely photos. I've always wanted to go to Spain.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Misha, thanks for stopping by. That's right! I had forgotten the English connection, getting so caught up in the Spanish history. I love the things I learn from traveling and communicating with others about the travel. All these missing pieces of history, filling in the puzzles.