TOLEDO remains one of Spain's great cities. Redolent of past glories, it is packed with memorable sights and enjoys an incomparable setting. However, the extraordinary number of day-trippers can take the edge off what was once the most extravagant of Spanish experiences. To see Toledo at its best, avoid peak holiday periods and stay at least a night. A day-trip will leave you hard pressed to see everything, while in the evening with the crowds gone and the city lit up by floodlights – resembling one of El Greco's moonlit paintings – Toledo is a different place entirely.
Set in a landscape of abrasive desolation, Toledo sits on a rocky mound where every available centimetre has been built upon: churches, synagogues, mosques and houses are heaped upon one another in a haphazard, cobblestoned spiral.
There are two main entrances to the old city: via the mechanical staircase that scales the hill from the Puerta de Bisagra opposite the tourist office and leaves you close to the Convento de Santo Domingo Antiguo, or up Calle Real del Arrabal to the Plaza Zócodover. Once there, the street layout can appear confusing, but the old core is so small that it should never take too long to get back on track; part of the city's charm is that it's a place to wander in and absorb, so don't overdose on "sights" if you can avoid it. Enter any inviting doorway and you'll find stunning patios, rooms and ceilings, often of Mudéjar workmanship. That said, don't leave without seeing at least the El Grecos, the cathedral, the synagogues and Alcázar.