The history of Toledo. An Amazing City
Toledo is one of the most impressive cities in Spain.
A Celtiberian town in its origin, it became one of the most important sites in Spain prior to 192 B.C, when it was conquered by Rome. The best way to enjoy the city is with a day tour. There are many options available from Madrid, most of them large group buses. We run daily tours (which can be booked as private too) to Toledo from Madrid.
It became Toletum Carthaginian. Its location , high on the top of a rock and surrounded by the river Tagus made it a very important strategic position in the large Castilian Plateau. The Barbarian inventions led the Romans and with them, Toledo became the main City for the Visigoths, from the 6th to the 8th Century. During 3 centuries Toledo was a Kingdom that witnessed moments of splendor, political difficulties and successive changes in power. One of the most significant events in the history of Toledo was the Third Council of Toledo. At this important Council, the King Recaredo converted from Arianism to Catholicism. It was not only himself, but the entire state.
The Battle of Guadalete , which occurred in 711 , put an end to the Visigothic rule in Toledo and gave way to the Muslim troops . Don Rodrigo was the last King and he was defetead by Tarik. This shift in power implied Toledo stopped being the capital. Politcal and religious power moved south, to the Califato of Cordoba.
But nothing lasts too long and by the eleventh century, after the disintegration of the Caliphate of Cordoba, Toledo became one of the important Taifas in Spain. This role implied a revival of the arts and sciences for the city, which recovered then an important cultural role . By 1085 Toledo became again part of Christianity, with the conquest of Toledo by Alfonso VI .
After the reconquest, and as a result of the confluence of the three religions , Toledo acquired the nickname of the City of the Three Cultures: the co-existence of Christian, Jewish and Muslim cultures enriched the city with their knowledge and traditions.
A very good example of this cultural boost is the example of The Toledo School of Translators , a project driven by King Alfonso X in the thirteenth century . The School became very important and played a critical role in the dissemination of classical traditions through the translations of texts preserved in Toledo and beyond.
During the Middle Ages Toledo experienced a progressive growth both economically and culturally. The role of the Cathedral of Toledo, the rise of nobility and the active participation of the Jewish community all played a key role in its development. The large amounts of well-preserved temples in the City are a clear example of the power of Toledo those days. This article is an interesting resource at Britannica.
In the sixteenth century, with the arrival of Carlos I from the North of Europe (Charles I) , Toledo was one of the major cities that championed the noble fight against the newly appointed emperor. But the Emperor succeeded and Toledo stayed as Capital with him.
The fifteenth century was one of the most prosperous periods for Toledo but in 1561 Philip II decided to move the Court to Madrid. This decision, along with the slowdown in the textile industry initiated a period of decline that lasted several centuries. The constitution of the Royal Company of Commerce and Factories in 1748 sparked a brief revival of the city, although this would not be very durable , as to the nineteenth century began a new period of recession.
At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939), Toledo returned to take a center stage in Spanish history. The Alcazar of Toledo played an important role during the War. With the restoration of democracy and the creation of a new territorial structure in Spain, Toledo became the capital of the autonomous community of Castile la Mancha in 1982. This, along with the active role the City plays as a University City, as well as the key role of tourism, has served as a springboard for the City´s development.
You can also find interesting information in this article about the top attractions in Toledo.