Spain is very well known thanks to many of its historical cities, but there is one in which people can feel the presence of many different cultures in just a couple of km2.
Toledo is a city located in the center of Spain, 73,2 km from Madrid. It is the capital of the province of Toledo and the autonomous community of Castile- La Mancha, land of the famous book Don Quixote of La Mancha
In spite of its long history and nearness of Madrid, Toledo has a low population (80.000) but every year has a lot of tourists: in 2014 there were around 3,4 million people who visited Toledo.
Actually, Toledo was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. One of the reasons was the historical co-existence of Christians, Muslims and Jewishs from….
The first piece of news about Toledo existence is by the Roman Historian Livy “a small city, but fortified by location” ca. 59 BCE. Finally it was conquered by the Roman general Marcys Fulviys Nobilior. After the fall of the Empire, Toledo served as the capital city of Visigothic Spain.
However, a big change came from the south, muslims started to conquer the Iberian Peninsula. In the year 932, Muslims captured the city and began the co-existence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, not without problems. Under Islamic Arab rule, Toledo was again renowned Ṭulayṭulah. But the city went back to be Christian with the re-conquest by Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085.
Fortunately, Arab libraries, synagogues, and monuments were not pillaged and today we can see this fascinating heritage.
For centuries the metal-working industry was Toledos’s economic base: manufacturing of swords and knives and now medical devices and electrical products. Agriculture had a big importance at the economy and tourism has increased its budget and income.
This tourism is looking for the unique historical legacy and the wonderful landscapes that Toledo has to offer.
One of the most famous and visited monuments is the Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo. This 13th-century monument is very well-known for its precious tower and the high Gothic style.
Another monument is The Alcázar of Toledo is a stone fortification in the highest part of Toledo. In the beginning it was a Roman palace in the 3rd century and it was restored under Charles I (Holy Roman Emperor Charles V XVIst). During the Spanish Civil war (1936-1939) Alcázar was a symbol for Spanish Nationalism, because there took place one of the most important battles.
One of the most significant places in Toledo is the synagogue Santa María la Blanca. Later it became a church and now it is museum, which is considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing.
As a matter of fact, Toledo is quite rich in art with 8 museums. One of them is the Santa Cruz Museum, which a got record of visitor last year, around 288.664. This museum celebrated in 2014 the 400th anniversay of the death of “El Greco” (The Greek), a significant painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. El Greco most famous paintings are The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (Pic) or View of Toledo.
Other important stimulus of Toledo is the exquisite cuisine. It has a great number of recipes, which are the result of a combination between Moorish and Christian influences. In addition, two of the city’s most famous culinary specialties are Manchego cheese and marzipan, which have a Protected Geographical Indication.
About the political and social situation, Toledo city hall got the power the center-left party PSOE in coaliton with Podemos (the far left party) in the last electionships of May 2015.
In relation to the social and economic problems, the crisis has caused a big unemployment rate because of its economy was based on construction and tourism. The challenge for the future is to create a modern industry and sustainable economy linked to the cultural and tourist attractions.