Known as la Cuidad Imperial (The Imperial City), Toledo stands out dramatically against the blue Castillian sky: a golden city encircled by a steep ravine in which flows the Tajo (Tagus). Also referred to as la cuidad de las tres culturas (The City of the Three Cultures), Toldeo has survived as a unique centre where Romans and Visigoths once ruled, and for a time where Jews, Muslims and Christians lived in compartitive harmony. Within its walls the city shelters beautiful sights amid old winding alleys which come to life each year with the Corpus Christi Procession.
Toldeo is renowned for its Damascene jewellery, where black steel is inlaid with gold, silver and copper thread along with Marzipan which is found in numerous stores throughout the city.
Toledo’s position in the centre of the country made it an important way station during the Roman domination of the Iberian Peninsula. The downfall of the Roman Empire saw the city become the centre of the Visigothic kingdom, who had moved their capital north to Toledo from the city of Seville. Constant infighting within the Visigothic rulers, lured the Muslims across the Straits of Gibraltar in 711 and the city became the focal point of central Muslim Spain. By the end of the 11th century Toldeo Had become a city of unrivalled learning and the arts.
The Christian king Alfonso VI captured the city in 1085 and shortly after the Vatican recognised Toledo as the seat of the Church in Spain and thus began the building of the impressive cathedral. In the upcoming years several Christian Monarchs used the city as their power base which created the economic and social base where Christians, Jews and Muslims lived relative harmony until the 1492 when the persecution of Non-Christians began.
Today Toledo’s history is visible around every corner which each successive wave leaving there mark on the city.
The Cathedral of Toledo is located on the spot which has been the centre of worship in the city for the city since with the Archbishop of Toledo was recognised as the primate of the Catholic Church in Spain. The arrival of the Muslims saw the building converted into the Toledo’s central Mosque.
Upon the city’s recapture the building was rebuilt into a Catholic cathedral beginning in the 13th century, a process which continued for several hundred years following along an essentially a Gothic design. In saying that, the building incorporates Spanish Renaissance in several of its chapels as well as Mudejar, a fusion of Arabic and Christian designs.
The building has several masterpieces including the wonderful altarpiece depicting the life of Christ which is incredible, whilst the silver statue of the Virgin dates back to 1418. 15th and 16th century choir stalls have wood carvings showing scenes from the Battle of Granada in 1492.
On the highest point of the city looms the Alcazar, the Muslim fortress constructed in the 10th century where its Arab lords controlled the city. The defeat of the Muslims, at the Battle of Toledo in 1085, saw the fortress become Christian and over successive centuries turned into a Royal Residence. The moving of the Monarchy to Madrid saw the building fall into disuse and was eventually damaged quite heavily in the Spanish Civil War by Republican forces. The build was later turned into a Museum dedicated to the civil war, most notably the republican siege of 1936.