Toledo is a unique open-air museum of Spanish history. The eastern slope of this
oriental-looking city is crowned by the Alcazar, the citadel. To the left the
cathedral's tower rises up out of a sea of medieval houses. A wreath of Moorish
Gothic fortifications encircles the city like a diadem, and at the foot of the impressive
granite outcropping, the River Tagus cuts through a magnificent gorge.
Did El Greco, who settled in Toledo in 1577, wish to highlight the tragic side of his
new home when he painted his View of Toledo (Storm over Toledo)? Born at Fodele on Crete,
he went to Venice at the age of twenty-four to become a pupil of Titian. After long
sojourns in Parma and Rome, El Greco moved to Toledo, a city that had lost its political
importance. However, perhaps for this very reason it was able to focus on the role it
had retained as the country's leading centre of Church activity. El Greco was a mystic
and he may have found Toledo, where the opponents of the Reformation were more ardent
than elsewhere, a bastion of the "true" belief, a place the painter saw as threatened
by the very forces that were shaking the foundations of the old order.