Toledo is full of local legends with the majority of them featuring love as the protagonist and this is the case in Calle de Alfileritos. It’s a long and narrow street where you can take in old stately homes and palaces adorned with coats of arms. Nowadays you can also find bars and restaurants where you can taste Toledan cuisine.
If you follow the street from where it begins in Plaza de San Nicolás, there is a small niche in the wall with an image of the Virgin Mary, more specifically Our Lady of Sorrows, that appears on a small golden altarpiece accompanied by two flower filled vases. At the foot of the image of Mary there are lots of pins. The pins are there as an offering from young Toledan girls in the hope of finding a boyfriend and getting married. They prick their finger with the pin and then push it through a small hole in the glass which is there to protect the shrine.
The custom stems from a legend dating back to the 16th century in which two Toledan lovers had to part ways, as he was captain of Carlos I’s imperial troops and had to go to the Americas. Every night the lady prayed to the Virgin accompanied by her housekeeper who had the job of pricking her with a pin if she fell asleep before finishing her prayers, a pin that she then offered to the Virgin of Sorrows as proof of her sacrifice.
After a long time away, the young captain eventually returned to his beloved fit and healthy. News soon spread around Toledo and people began to copy her routine, creating a tradition that’s lasted to this day.
If you don’t yet have a partner come to Calle de Alfileritos in Toledo and make an offering to the Virgin Mary. Who knows, maybe love will knock on your door.