Medieval Toledo craftsmen rediscovered the ancient techniques for making weapons of hardened steel, making a sword of “Toledo steel” the gold standard for a crusading knight going to do battle in the Holy Land. The ubiquitous modern souvenir swords are a waste of money, but connoisseurs of fine blades can still find a handful of swordmakers practicing the venerable profession. Mariano Zamoraño’s family started making swords in Toledo in the late 19th century, and he continues hammering and honing fine steel just a few blocks from the cathedral. Visit the workshop in the winter, and you can see the artisans heating steel bars red-hot on a bed of charcoal, then stretching and shaping the steel into the final blades. During the rest of the year, the swordmakers attend to less heat-intensive tasks, such as creating foils and tangs, sharpening blades, or painstakingly polishing the high-nickel steel into a mirror finish. (Unlike souvenir swords, Zamaraño’s blades are not plated with chrome.) The shop produces everything from fencing rapiers and sabers to cutlasses and ceremonial presentation swords. They also make some kitchen cutlery. Every authentic piece bears the stylized MZ mark.
- Frommer's Staff