From Andalus to Spain


Historians who look for world-changing dates, universal bench-marks, will surely agree on 1492. It is the year in which the last Muslim kingdom of Spain, Granada, fell and the fate of the Muslims and Jews was finally sealed on the Iberian Peninsula; it is also the year Christopher Columbus sailed for America. For Europe it would herald a period of profound change of direction; the dying of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the New World and, eventually, modernity. It would also trigger the large-scale destruction of native populations in the Americas.
For Muslims their period in Spain would always have its charm with romantic nostalgia. Once upon a time, the Muslim civilisation thrived in Al-Andalus - religious tolerance, learned scholars, great libraries, public baths, and splendid architecture. The Muslims were the first to establish a paper factory in Europe, Jativa (Spain); also the first street lights were used by the Muslims in Europe. The First University in Europe was set up by the Muslims in Spain.
Then all seemed to be disappeared in the distant past, somewhere amid the dust and rubble, and it’s not easy to find the traces and it only offers to those who care about the past. To see and feel what had happened to that beautiful and modern civilisation of its time, one needs to visit this beautiful and magical land itself but its' not easy to do. One needs to dig deep, under the rubble to see those lost treasures which were the best at the time, when whole of Europe was struggling with the Middle Ages but Al-Andalus was a shining star for the rest of the World.

A Visit to the Spanish Embassy
Today was Tuesday, though it seemed another Tuesday in a routine life but this day was going to be really important for me. I felt that I was going to get closer to make my dream come true, a dream which had haunted me since I was fourteen or fifteen. That dream had everything, from the height of happiness to the depth of sorrows, there were moments of brilliance and yet there was desperation, it had tears and it had smiles, it brought life but it bled from time to time. To put everything together in this dream, I would name it Al-Andalus.
I had an appointment with the Spanish embassy for visa application. The time for appointment was 10:30am. I took bus from Dublin city centre; I got off at Merrion Road, turned left. The Pakistani Embassy was on my right hand side at Ailesbury Road in Dublin four. That area was considered one of the most beautiful and expensive in Dublin, it had less traffic on its roads and generally Dublin Four is considered very peaceful. In front of the embassy, there were lined trees; they were standing like soldiers ready for their daily parade. Pakistan's green and white flag was fluttering in the air. There were few Pakistani around the embassy area, most likely they were there to renew their passports or to get their ID cards sorted. The Spanish Embassy was located at Merlyn Park Road, which was next to the Pakistani Embassy. I took a left turn and I was at the entrance of the Spanish Embassy. It was 10:20am and I pressed the door bell and a security guard looked through the window and opened the door.
Good Morning, I said.
Good Morning to you as well, he replied.
Then he looked at a sheet of a paper and turned to me, do you have appointment at 10:30am?
Yes, that's right.
Do you have any photo ID with you?
Yes, I do. And I gave him my passport.

He wrote down my passport number in a diary. Then he told me to put my mobile phone, keys, coins, watch and anything else, made of metal in a basket and then I needed to pass through a security scanner.
I followed his instructions. When I passed through the scanner, it was kind enough not to beep. Then security guard handed back my all belongings one by one and I stuffed everything in my pockets and walked toward the reception area of the Embassy.

Waiting area
When I entered the waiting areas of the embassy, there were only four people sitting in the waiting area and couple of girls were standing next to a window.  There was no one at the reception window. Instead of gluing to the window, I decided to take a seat. After five minutes, a very skinny and delicate girl came to one of the window and she said something in Spanish. Three girls, who were sitting on my left hand side, one of them stood up and walked towards the window. Both started to discuss something in Spanish.
The girl, who was sitting next to me, I had a look at her. She had jet black hair, hazelnut coloured eyes and brown skin, she had some sort of resemblance to the Middle Eastern person. I was doing own calculation and guessing about the girl, when some one's phone rang. The girls, whom were standing next to the window, answered the phone. She was very loud; it was almost like she was giving out to someone. I looked at the girl with black hair next to me, in order to judge her re-action. Just by coincidence, she looked at me at the same time. I felt that I was caught red handed but she just smiled. Asking for a date wasn't on my agenda; even I wouldn't dare to ask for her telephone number. Then I started to scan the area and I looked behind the window. There were two paintings hanging on the wall. One was with Espania written on it while other was of Saint Patrick of Ireland. It was same St. Patrick who had brought the Christianity to Ireland.
I looked at the notice board on the wall, there were no information how to submit an application. I asked one of the three girls, who were still standing beside the window, about the visa appointment process? She told me in a fashionable style, “Ah, I don't know, press the bell on the wall”.
I pressed the bell and the same “smart” girl came out and said something in Spanish. I told her that I was unable to understand her and if she could tell me where to apply for visa? She told me to stay behind the queue on other side of the window (the girl I was talking to earlier). The girl who was standing in front of me (probably Filipino), her mobile phone rang again. She started to talk loudly on the phone once again. Before that the Filipino would continue her full blown conversation, a girl appeared on the other side of the window. She told the Filipinos to come back on the given day and collect their visas. When they heard the word visa, they became very happy; they thanked the girl and left the reception area.
Then the girl turned to me, how may I help you?
Hi there, I have an appointment at 10:30am for the visa application so I am here to submit my documents.
She glanced on a sheet which was attached to the wall.
You must be Abbas Zaighum, She asked?
Yes, I am.
Do you have all the documents?
I hope so, I replied.
Do you have health insurance cover for your visit?
Yes, I do and I gave her the insurance letter.
Please, give me your visa application form?
I slipped the form under the opening of the glass window towards her.
She checked the application form to make sure that it was correctly filled. Then she turned to me and asked, can you give me the rest of the documents?
I gave all the documents to her.
She examined all the documents and then asked me, do you have photocopy of your bank statement with you?
I am afraid, I don’t' have the photocopy but you can keep the original one.
Her response was 'hmmm'. She looked at all the documents again and turned to me;
Can you give a copy of your Immigration card please?
I am sorry; I forgot to copy that one. If you give me few minutes, I can go to the Merrion Shopping Centre and I will get the copy from there.
When she saw me genuinely worried, she smiled and said, don't worry about it, just give me your GNIB Card and I will do it for you.
She was so polite and professional it reminded me the attitude of the Pakistani Embassy's staff. Who were always ready to give everyone hard time. I remembered one particular incident, when I had called them in advance to check for the required documents in order to renew the passport. When I arrived at the embassy, I was told that I needed verification from the police in order to renew my passport (it wasn't stolen, just renewal). When I told them that I had spoken to one of them at the phone, they never mentioned anything about verification. I was told to just do what they had told me to do. When I went to the police station, the officer was surprised for such odd request (requirement in this case) but he stamped it for me.
Then girl went inside the office and came back with the photocopy in her hand.
Please give me €60, the processing fee?
Do you accept debit or credit cards, I asked her?
No, we don’t accept cards, its cash only.
Ok, no problem. I gave her €70; she gave me €10 change and told me to wait at the window. While she was inside the office. I had a look at the board which was on the other side of the glass well. It was all in Spanish, I didn’t understand a thing.
While I was there, three Spanish girls, stood up and going towards the door. I looked at them; the one with dark hair waved her hand and said, “CIO”. I didn’t know much about the word but I presumed it meant goodbye, I waved at her and told her to take care.
I was still looking at the girl, when the girl at the window appeared again. She gave a receipt of the payment and then a reference number of my application. She advised me to come to the embassy on Friday between 12 and 1'o clock to collect my visa.
I was nicely surprised that she was telling me to collect the visa on Friday. I wasn't interviewed and there were no standard questions like, if I was a member of a terrorist group, if I wanted to live in Spain permanently? Who was funding my trip etc.? Those were standard questions which I had been asked at different locations by the immigration officers and the embassy staff. Life seemed to be getting better now, I asked myself?
Perhaps, from my looks, she thought that I wasn't a terrorist material. Well, no one looks a terrorist from their face, I wondered? How about all those innocent Muslim people, which are stopped at the airports for the random search. Do they look like terrorist or their names would give it away? Or it easier to pick the weaker ones or just a combination of hypocrisy and hatred in the name of human rights, democracy.
I was drifting away into a grey area, then I realised that the girl was looking at me.
I am sorry, Just a question, I will not be able to collect my passport on Friday because I will be working, can I collect it on Monday? I asked her.
Yes, you can, there is no problem with that.
I thanked the girl and walked towards the security door. After passing the security door, I took left turn and came to Merrion Road and caught bus number 7 to go to the City Centre.
I was barely inside my apartment that my mobile phone rang.
Hello, I answered the phone.
Can I speak to Mr Abbas Zaighum please?
Speaking, I answered with the shortest word which came in my head.
I am calling from the Spanish Embassy, where you had applied for your visa this Morning. I have few questions regarding your stay in Spain? (The terrorist questions, I hope not).
No problem, go ahead.
According to your application, you will be landing at the Madrid Airport and then you will spend your first night in Toledo and then second night in Cordoba. Do you know that there is a lots of distance between those two cities, how are going to cover this distance?
Yes, you are right but I will hire a car at the Madrid Airport, I replied.
I can see that you will be departing from the Barcelona Airport, are you going to leave car at the airport?
Yes, I will leave car at the Barcelona Airport.
Thank you for answering the questions; you have solved the confusion regarding your travel plan.
Thank you for your call, I replied and she hung up the phone.

Passport collection
I was back to work on Wednesday, then came Friday. I had to wait for another Friday (Monday in my case). On Monday Morning, I woke up early, after having breakfast, I left house at 11:15am, it was a cloudy Morning in Dublin so as a safety precaution, I took umbrella with me. When I was walking to go the bus stop, it started to pour down. I took bus from the O’Connell Street and I was on my way to the embassy.
I was at front of the embassy at 12noon, after pressing the bill; the security guard opened the door. I showed him my Pakistani overseas card as an ID and he let me in. At 12:10pm, a girl came behind the glass window. It was the same girl who had taken my documents about two weeks ago.
Then she announced that anyone, who was there to collect the visa, should come forward with a receipt.  Few of the people stood from their seats. I followed them to the window and gave the receipt to girl. She told us to take seats and we would be called.
There was a guy sitting on one side of the room with his four or five years old daughter. The guy was filling some papers and the young girl said to him, Capasa. He didn’t reply her; she walked around the chairs for few minutes and she went back to dad again and said, Capasa. Dad told her to stay away.
Then my name was called and I went to the window and woman told me that they had granted me a visa and I needed to check my details to make sure they were all correct? I checked the details, they looked OK to me. Now the rain had stopped and cool breeze was blowing. It was a day off, so I decided to go the sea side, which was very close to the embassy.
I came to the Sandymount beach, sat on a bench and kept staring at the slow moving waves. They were moving one after another. They would come to hug the beach and then run away like a cheeky teenage girlfriend. But those waves had something which I didn’t have, the waves were following each other and they have strong power of connection, the power of belonging and that bond would bring them into a distant land, a land where Alhambra was standing, a land where the Cordoba Mosque was breathing. A land where the legend had lived, a land pure as snow, a land called Al-Andalus. I felt that I was walking away from the shore alongside the waves, slowly into a new place; my thoughts were only broken by the small drops of rain. I stood up and decided to leave.

Searching for books in Library
After few days, I decided to go to the Ilac Centre Library in Dublin to look for some books. I looked at the history shelf but there wasn’t any book which I was looking for. So I decided to go to the information desk and I asked the guy behind the desk? He looked at the computer and told me that he had few books in the stock. He told me to follow him and he brought me to the tourism section. He took two books out of the shelf and gave them to me.
I looked at them, one of them was covering lifestyle in Spain and other was about modern Spain. I told him that it wasn't something I was looking for. He told me to come to the desk again, so he could put my details in computer and if any book would be returned, he would reserve it for me. While he was entering my details, he jumped with joy, “there you go”, a book called Andalucía had just returned about half an hour ago. He went to a small counter and came back with two books in his hand, second book was called, Al-Andalus, the rise and fall of Islamic Empire. Second book looked very interesting. I thanked him for his help and left the library.

Sunday at Work
Under normal circumstances, Sunday would always be a quiet day at work but in the stadium (across the road) a match was re-scheduled and that was played earlier in the day. So it was busier than usual. Ideally, I would finish around 11pm but it wasn't looking that way. Around, 7pm, I was asked if I could stay longer at work? I told the ‘boss’ that I was flying in the Morning. He told me that I could bring my suitcase to the hotel and stay there and I could leave in the Morning and he would pay for the taxi to the Airport.  It wasn't a bad idea (a free taxi, bring it on).
I left hotel around 8pm, took taxi to come to my apartment. My bag was already packed, just put few things in the hand luggage and called a taxi company to pick me up and bring back to the hotel. I put my bag in one of the rooms on the fourth floor and came down to the reception because work wasn't over yet. I stayed in the back office and did some work. The girl, who was covering night shift that day came at 11pm; I handed over to her and went to bedroom around midnight. I was on call if she needed me.

Sleepless night before the departure
I was lying in the bed but sleep was miles away. I was excited to fly in the Morning but little nervous. I was feeling like a guy who was going on his first date. So many things were going through my head because it was my first date with Spain. It sounds crazy but those who know the rich history of this beautiful land would feel the weight in the same way that I was feeling. I didn’t know when sleep overpowered me but I woke up at 2:15am. I tried to sleep again but to no avail. I turned on TV and the highlights of the T/20 Cricket World Cup Final between Sri Lanka and West Indies were being shown. I didn’t watch the live match earlier but highlights were good enough to see West Indies win. It was one of those rare silverware West Indies cricket team had won in a long time.
I called the front desk at 4am and informed the guys that I would be leaving at 4:15am and I needed a taxi. When I came to the lobby, same girl was working behind the desk. She winked and asked me if I get any sleep? I told her, not much. She offered me tea or coffee to take away with me but I thanked her and went to the taxi, which was waiting outside for me.
Inside was Maurice, one of the drivers I had known for years. He looked at me and asked;
It looks like you are going away somewhere?
Yes, you are right, I said quietly.
Where are you heading to?
At the moment, I am heading to the airport. Then hopefully plane will bring me to Spain.
With this answer, he gave me a look to check if I was ok. Then he said;
Spain is a beautiful country to visit; at least weather is lot better than here. Look at the miserable Morning in Dublin (He pointed to his fast moving wipers on the wind screen).
I told him that I wasn't a big fan of the weather in Spain but I was more interested in history and monuments.
Oh, I have heard that it has been raining in Andalucía lately (he guessed that I was going to Andalucía, at least most Irish would go there for sunshine).
It doesn't make much difference to me if it is raining or not, I told him.
Maurice was still moaning about the Irish weather when we reached at the Dublin Airport. He took my bag out from the boat, shook hands with me and wished me happy holidays. When I entered the airport building, it was 4:30am.

Dublin Airport
I decided to use self-service check in; my plan was then to drop the bag at the baggage drop service. I was unable to check in myself because my passport was hand written, not computerised. Even though Pakistan was issuing computerised passport in but the embassy in Dublin didn't have the facility. I had to deal with this complication two years ago at the Dubai Airport but it didn’t bother me much at the Dublin Airport.
I went to the check in counter; there were only three people in front of me. When my turn came, I was told to leave the bag at the weighing belt; the weight was within the limit. I requested for a window seat, which was given without any objection. I always preferred window seat. There were two reasons for it, first of all, it offered a good view of the ground on landing and taking off, secondly, it was a good place to sleep. Normally, I wouldn't sleep in the plane but whenever it happened I always took as a bonus.

Security check
Then I took escalator to come to the first floor, at the entrance to the security check, I showed my boarding pass. In front of me was security screening. I was told to put my mobile, watch, coins and keys in a basket and then I had to pass through a scanner door. Scanner didn’t sound alarm, which was a relief because if there was a sound. The security would ask to go through the scanner again and if alarm sounded again, they would do a body search. While I was picking up my belongings from the basket, there was a security girl talking to a guy in front of me. He had a white bottle in his hand and she was telling him that he wasn’t allowed to bring that bottle on board. The guy (An American) was insisting that it had cost him lots of money to buy that lotion but girl wasn't listening to him. They were still trying to win see-saw battle but I left the scanning area.

Waiting area
I to the right hand side, where information about the flights were displayed. The gate to Madrid's flight wasn't displayed yet. I saw few empty chairs; I decided to occupy one of them. There was a guy sitting behind me, who had his shoes on the chair, on the opposite side. It wasn’t the nicest thing to do but I had no shares in the Dublin Airport at the stock market. Any one, who was passing beside him, was giving him a look but he wouldn’t care. On my left hand side was a lady, who had put a blind-fold on her eyes and her head was resting on top of the chair and mouth was towards the ceiling (she couldn’t see the stars because the building had roof). At least she didn’t mind fellow's shoes on the chair because she was busy in snoring. Then a police officer passed there, the guy took his shoes down from the chair and started to wear them. The policeman looked at him, smiled and kept on walking.
Now, it was 5:40am, the gate for the flight was open so I decided to walk to the waiting area. I sat there and started to read my notes, then some one's phone rang and a lady started to talk at her phone very loudly. She was a strange character, She had big hair with a style challenging 80's, heavy makeup (anyone, 80's style again?) and a torn jeans. May be, her way of travelling was “rough & tough”. There was a young girl sitting next to her. In the meantime, an announcement was made that boarding for the flight to Madrid had started.
I stood up and joined the queue, after showing the boarding pass and the passport at the check point. I walked towards the plane, which was waiting on tarmac. When I entered the plane, an air hostess was standing there, who was checking seat numbers and she was advising people, in which direction they needed to go to. After finding my seat, I settled in there. It was still raining outside.

Take-off and Landing at the Madrid Airport
After few moments, the captain made an announcement that he was ready for the take-off. The engine started to roar and the plane started to move towards the runway. On reaching the runway, engine noise became louder. The plane picked up the speed and it rose above the ground, leaving yellow, red and green navigational lights behind on the ground. I looked through the window, city lights of Dublin were running far away. It was like fireflies in the forest on a dark night. Then everything looked dark (sun wasn't out yet).  Inside the plane, most people were sleeping or trying to sleep. Some of them were reading newspapers or the books.
It was silence inside the plane only to be broken by the voice of then captain, he announced that we were passing beside the French city of Bordeaux and plane was cruising at 37000 feet. I could see beautiful lakes surrounded by the towering mountains. From time to time, there was a small canal or a creek. Then captain made another announcement to advise the staff to be prepared for the landing at the Madrid Airport.
Landing was smooth and after coming out of the plane, I followed other passengers to come to the immigration counter. I was ready to be question by them. There were three immigration officers at the desks. It seemed that more than one flight had landed at the same time. In the meantime, a fourth counter was opened by another officer. He signalled people to come towards him. Few people, including myself walked towards him but before he would start checks, the crew of America's United Airlines arrived there; all of them were wearing navy blue uniform. He asked the captain to come forward and the captain gave a piece of paper to the officer and then captain signalled to rest of the staff to come forward. All of them passed through and I was the next one in the queue. I gave him my passport he didn’t ask me any question. He stamped the passport and gave it back to me. I came out to the baggage collection area. A Russian flight of Aeroflot had landed at the same time and baggage for both flights was coming at the same belt. After collecting my bag, I came out to the car hire; car hire offices were located next to the currency exchange.

Car Hire
I went to the Europe Car Hire's desk, there was a girl but she was busy on the phone. I stood there hoping that at some stage she was going to finish her conversation, which was in the Russian language. I was nearly waiting for fifteen minutes but she was still on the phone. She didn't acknowledge me or apologised for the delay. Then a second girl came on the desk, she apologised for the wait. Then the girl at the phone looked at me, she was a blond with blue eyes. She looked more of an East European origin than the Spanish. When I looked at her name badge, it confirmed that she was Russian and probably she was dealing with a Russian customer over the phone or just talking to her boyfriend.
I gave booking confirmation to the girl on the desk, and then she asked me for my driving licence and the passport. After copying the both documents, she returned them to me and now she requested a credit card for authorisation. She informed me that my car was upgraded to a diesel because I had been waiting for a while. That was really nice of her. Then she printed a receipt and asked me to sign at the bottom of it. She told me to double check the car, in case there were scratches or the marks inside or outside the car. If I found anything that wasn't in order, I would need to contact office beside the parking area. Then she gave me car documents and the key and explained me how to get to the car park. I came out of the building and car park was in front of me. I passed the Europe Car Hire office on my left hand side and started to search sector F and parking number 79. I could see A, B and C sectors but there was no sign of sector F. I kept looking around but I couldn’t locate the spot where the car was parked. So I came to the site office for assistance. There were two Russian girls, one was walked in and other was standing outside. One of them came to the clerk and the guy at the counter spoke to her in Spanish but she didn’t understand. Then he switched to English but he didn’t get any response from the girl. She pointed towards the car key in her hand. The girl, who was standing outside started to laugh. She was wearing scantly clad dress. There could be two reasons for her dress, one was the weather in Spain, and second, she wanted to get sun tan. Sometimes it is a funny world we are living in. The part of the world I had come from, girls would spend fortune in order to get a fair skin but in Europe, matter was other way around.
While girl was laughing she tried to stop but couldn't and she lost her balance and she fell on the ground. She didn’t try to stand up, she just laid there. Now the girl inside the office started to laugh at her. The guy at the counter looked at me with a question mark. I couldn’t help but smiled. The girl was lying on the ground with her minimum clothes, she was in embarrassing situation. The girl from inside went out, gave her support and she stood up and now both started to laugh. Now I could guess that the girl who had fallen was drunk. Finally, one of the girls came back to the counter again and finished her paper work. When both of them were leaving, one of them give a blow kiss to the guy on the counter and he just smiled back at her.
I waited when he looked at me;
Good Moring, I said.
Good Morning to you as well, those were crazy girls. He told me.
Well, it happens sometimes. I replied and told him that I was unable to locate my car.
Can you show me the documents for the car, please?
He looked at the paper and told me to follow him.
Sector F was located between B and D sectors. He gave me the key and I thanked him for his time. I left suitcase and the shoulder bag in the boot of the car examined the car for any scratches which weren’t on the information sheet. I found few scratches at the front of the bumper. I went back to the office again and informed the guy. He asked me to give him the papers. I gave him the information sheet and he updated it with the new information and signed at the bottom.

Drive to Toledo
I went straight to the car and turned the key in ignition. I was sweating profoundly because it was very humid in the car park. I took out the GPS and entered the address for the hotel in Toledo and drank a bottle of water. It was the first time that I was going to drive the car on the right hand side of the road. So I did a full circle of the car park in order to get my bearings. Then I followed a small road which brought me to a roundabout. I wasn't prepared for a roundabout that quickly but there was nothing I could do. Though it was a small roundabout, my instinct told me to look at the right hand side. There was a small bus on my right hand side and driver was looking at me. I wondered why he wasn't moving, and then I heard a beep behind me. Those two indications were enough for me to tell that it was my turn to move. I was meant to check the roundabout from the left hand side. Then I joined a main road.
I was little bit tense for the first fifteen or twenty minutes but as the time passed, I started to get the hang of driving on that side of the road. I was driving in the slow line but from time to time I would move into the faster lane in order to overtake the trucks. Then I saw a sign for Toledo, I was admiring my driving skills that I had made it without any incident. I came off the motorway to go the city but took the wrong turn and I was back on the waterway again. I took next exit and came off the motorway. Now I was paying more attention to the GPS, I came off A42 by taking a road on the right hand side, passed one round about and on second roundabout; I took Paseo de San Eugenio, which brought me at the front of the hotel.
I parked the car at the front of the hotel and went to the reception and asked about the car park. I was told that it was located in the basement of the hotel. After parking the car, I took the lift which brought me to the reception which was on the third floor. Yes, it was right because the hotel was located at a hill. After check in, I asked for a city map. The guy behind the desk gave me a map and encircled the city centre area. I took my suitcase and came to the room, which had a beautiful view of the city. After refreshing myself, I gathered my notes, maps and a bottle of water and I was ready to hit the town.
Toledo City
Toledo was one of those Spanish cities which had been able to maintain their importance throughout the history until recently. Toledo is a popular destination for the tourists, who come from Madrid, most of the time on a day trip.Toledo is located on a hill, the River Tagus or Tajo is on three sides of the city, that’s why every inch of land in Toledo has its own value.
History
Toledo was conquered by the Romans in 192BC, the city used to be called Toletum in those times. Then Visigoths became the ruler of the city, until they were defeated by Tariq bin Ziad's army in 712. After the conquest, Muslim and the Christians lived side by side in peaceful environment and harmony until city was taken by King Alfonso VI in 1085.
When I came down the hill, I realised that I was further away from the city than the guy at the desk had encircled the area next to the hotel was city centre. I came to a roundabout, there was a small park on the other side, I saw a young couple sitting on a bench, and I asked them how to go to the city? They didn’t understand me, then I showed them the city map and they pointed towards the main road, called Calle Marques di Mendigorria.
While I was walking down to the city, Toledo Bullring was on my left hand side and next to the bullring was Tavera Hospital or Hospital de Tavera.
This 16th-century Greco-Roman palace north of the medieval ramparts of Toledo was originally built by Cardinal Tavera; it now houses a private art collection. It was used to treat "those afflicted with different illnesses”.


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