One of my dearest childhood friends is a top art and antiquities restorer (I have mentioned him before here). This year he invited me to spend the day with him in Toledo where he had to supervise the restoration of a bridge his company is working on. Little did I know that the bridge was just the opening act of the day:
Our first stop was the bridge Tracer is restoring. The Puente de Alcántara started life as a Roman bridge before going through different modifications and updates. The medieval Order of Alcántara fortified it and protected it, giving it its current name -which is ironic since alcántara is bridge in ancient Arabic, so the bridge of bridge! Jaime’s company is working on the medieval tower, their work is impressive, but what really struck me was the formidable views from the top of the towers.
From there Jaime showed me a couple of churches -side by side- he worked on years ago: Santa Fé and Santa Cruz. In them we saw intricate Moorish arches, a beautiful, coffered ceiling, gorgeous renaissance entryways and staircases, a vaulted medieval ceiling, on and on, oh and some silly modern art that really showcases ancient workmanship!
But Jaime’s ace up his sleeve, his piece the resistance was taking me to the Cathedral where his old friend Jesús, the head of maintenance, gave us a very private and incredibly special tour.
Now, I have been to the Cathedral of Toledo a bunch of times, I have shown it to student groups, visiting friends, I even took some photos there for my dear professor Dominguez a few years ago. But this was beyond my wildest expectations, we barely stopped at the “regular” stuff other than for Jesús to point out some unique feature of whatever it was we were looking at.
We started by taking the elevator (the first one installed in Toledo) to the second floor of the Cathedral’s cloister, there we saw queen Isabella’s apartments, some excellent views, and we learned about the two falcons they have just adopted to deal with the pigeon issue.
Then we walked around the cathedral with Jesús pointing out this and that, until we went into a “secret” room hidden behind an iron gate and a velvet curtain, then another iron gate to the Cathedral’s reliquary! I must confess this moment was really moving for me, mainly because I was not expecting such a room, with such a treasure inside, it was beautiful and amazing, my hands were trembling!
We ambled a bit more, checking out the image of “Lust” which I had photographed years ago for Prof. Dominguez, and the 18th C. “Transparente”.
After our visit, we walked around town a bit and we had lunch where Jaime used to eat when he was working there, but after the Cathedral, it was all a blur for me.