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The City of Toledo


Toledo. The City of Toledo is known as the City of Three Cultures, a place where Muslim, Arab and Jewish communities historically coexisted.

The famed city of Toledo is located in the independent community of Castilla-La Mancha, situated only 71 kilometers from Madrid, the capital of Spain. The city is found on the top of a hill about 100m high, surrounded by the river Tajo. It was named a World Heritage Center by UNESCO and is a sister city to Guanajuato (Mexico).

The History of Toledo

The geographic location of the city has always been an important strategic advantage dating back to Roman times. The city also has trace remnants of Celtic tribes verified by relics that have been discovered in the area. In 193 B.C. Toledo was conquered by the Roman army under the command of Marco Fulvio Nobilior after much resistance. In the following centuries, the city was profoundly Romanized, as were many cities on the outskirts of town and on the border of the river. An aqueduct and Roman circus to accompany a Roman theater were also constructed in the town. With the fall of the Roman Empire and the arrival of the Visigoths in Spain, Toledo was converted to the capital of the Visigoth Kingdom. It was also a place of important historic events such as the Visigothic Councils of Toledo.

In 711 A.D. Toledo was conquered by Tariq ibn Ziyad and submitted to the dominance of Muslim rule. The majority of the city had fled before the Muslims arrived, so taking the city happened with little resistance. In later years Toledo revolted several times against Cordoba, until Abd al-Rahman III definitively conquered it in 932 and placed the city under the Caliphate of Cordoba. Under the Caliphate of Cordoba Toledo entered a Golden Age being one of the richest Taifa Muslim kingdoms, although taxes were very high to ensure the city´s independence.

The City of Three Cultures

In 1085, King Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile entered the city to claim it as his own with an agreement from the Taifa. Alfonso gave special privileges to citizens of the city from different cultural backgrounds: Muslims, Arabs, and Jews. As of this era, the city continued it´s Golden Age under new rule marked by historic texts translated into all three languages for the three main cultures during the Middle Ages of Europe. Toledo is also known as “the city of three cultures”.

The metal-working industry has always been an important fixture of Toledo. Even modern knives and swords for the army were manufactured in a plant on the outskirts of town until the building was renovated to hold the Technological University of Castilla-La Mancha. Toledo was the capital during the reign of Emperor Carlos I of Spain and V of Germany. His son, Feilpe II transferred the powers of the capital to Madrid. This contributed to Toledo losing its political influence and decadence.

During the Spanish Civil War, Toledo stayed faithful to the government of the Republic, but in the palace, which was a military school at the time, a group of about 1.000 nationals maintained a siege that lasted several months. The event appeared in pro-Franco propaganda as a heroic act and had great international repercussions. The palace was nearly destroyed, although it was reconstructed to its former prominence after the war.

At present, the city is the capital of the independent community of Castilla-La Mancha.