Monthly Archives: April 2009


I am staying at the Hospederia de los Reyes in Toledo. I was originally going to stay in this hostel, but they only let you book three nights at a time. I was unwillingly to role the dice on going to Toledo at the height of the tourist season with only three out of fourteen days accounted for. The hostel is in a castle which dates from the Muslim period (tenth century), which would be great, but it is a bit of a walk from the Cathedral. It is actually outside the old city, across the Tajo River, on the south bank. You can actually see the castle/hostel in this picture.

So instead I am staying at this impressively named but oh so average looking Hospideria de los Reyes. It is just inside the Alcantara gate, along the old city walls (which date from the Christian period, twelfth century). At 44 euro per night, it is not badly priced, though that adds up to more than 600 for two weeks. When one considers that I paid less than 1000 for my six-week rental in Madrid, the price is disturbing. More on the Madrid place later.

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A lot of this blog is going to be for my own purposes. I want to visit this market when I am in Madrid.

Markets in Madrid

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Bayt al-Hikma


Bayt al-Hikma means “house of wisdom” in Arabic. The term refers to libraries and scriptorium attached to mosques in the Middle Ages. One such house was in the Great Mosque of Toledo. This mosque became the foundation for the current gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria. The Bayt al-Hikma was replaced by the Cathedral’s archives. My first two weeks will be spent in these archives, digging through the documents from the early thirteenth century. I am mostly looking for wills appertaining to the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, but will obviously be keeping my eyes open for other items of interest. It is all rather exciting, or intimidating. My Spanish is bad, and talking to priests about their archive contents is going to be a trick.

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