The Spanish City of Toledo
Inhabited first by the Iberians, Toledo fell to the Roman invaders in 192 BCE. The Romans gave way to the Alanis and then the Visigoths, who, in the 7th century, made Toledo the capital of Spain. In the beginning of the eighth century, Toledo, then called Tolati-tola by the Moors, was dominated by Islam. This period saw three major religious communities – Muslims, ‘Mozarabes’ (Christians living under Muslim rule in medieval Spain) and Jews — all co-existing peacefully.
In 1035, Alfonso VI of Castilla captured the city and made it his capital. His reign saw the birth of the Mudejar community, Muslims living under Christian rule, which gave birth to a unique artistic style, the “Mudejar,” which blended Christian and Muslim aesthetics. Toledo became a center for culture and education under Alfonso X in the 13th century. The city remained important until the end of the Christian “Reconquest” of Spain in 1492. In that year, with the forced expulsion of the Jews from Toledo and the rest of Spain, the city lost much of its significance and glory. In 1561, when Felipe II moved the court to Madrid, the city fell into decline.
The Spanish city of Toledo is situated forty two miles to the southwest of Madrid. Situated on top of a hill in the plains of New Castile, Toledo is surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River. Before the sixteenth century, Toledo was the capital of Spain. Today, it is the capital of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha.
It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site for its cultural monuments, which are a testimony to the civilizations of the Christians, Jews and Moors, which co-existed there. Toledo also remains the country’s religious center: the Primate of Spain functions from this city.
Since then, the city has remained relatively unchanged. One can still stroll through a maze of winding streets built to accommodate only a man astride his donkey. The city can be divided into two parts: the Casco Histórico, or Historical Quarter, which is the whole of the old city; and the newly-built neighborhoods. The two parts are separated by the old city walls. The main attractions of Toledo are the Alcazar, the Casa y Museo de El Greco, the Cathedral, the Museo de Santa Cruz, and the two synagogues (Santa Maria la Blanca and Del Transito). Among them, the Cathedral is the most popular. It is a Gothic structure whose highlights include the transparente, the 16th-century Capilla Mozárabe, the Treasure Room, El Greco’s Twelve Apostles and Spoliation of Christ and Goya’s Arrest of Christ on the Mount of Olives. While discussing Toledo one has to mention El Greco, who made Toldeo his home and painted his masterpieces there.