Travel Guide to Toledo

The city of the three cultures

The ancient capital of the Visigoths would converted into a place of tolerance. Always associated with the monarchy, it was headquarters to the fundamental translator school of the occidental culture. As long as centuries happened the history of Spain had been recovered, inspiring artists such as El Greco and Ignacio Zuloaga. This travel guide to Toledo is a class full of history.

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Before discovering the travel guide to what to see in Toldeo, it is convenient to go over its history. The Celtiberian town of the Carpetany was installed in a hill that dominated the most predictable ford in all of the zone. Sorrounding, the settlement created would become the capital. In the year 192 B.C. the procouncil Marco Fulvio Nobilior defeated this town close to the city, that  was conquered the following year. In the centuries later, it would become an important Roman municipality and a Episcopal headquarter.

A cause of the pressure from the francos, in the second half of the V century the Visigoths occupied the Iberian Peninsula. From the year 507, they translated their capital from Tolosa, south of France to Toledo.Here they established the organs of the Government: the Oficio Palatino and the Aula Regia. During the year 589, in the III Council of Toledo, the reign changed Arian Christianism to Catholicism. Later, in 610, it converted its bishop into archbishop. This meant that he possesed authority over the rest, as to why he denominated as Primate of Spain. In these metropolitan headquarters, they would celebrate 12 councils. Also, a religious tradition was began that continues to this day. The bishop of Toledo gains the title of Prime Cardinal.

Upon the 712 the Arabs took the capital of the Visigodan Kingdom, naming it madinat al-muluk. It would be the head of the so-called Marca Media, a great territorial constintuency in which the Caliphate of Cordoba integrated various cores or provinces. In the year 1023 an independent Taifa Kingdom was founded that would have three dinasty kings, These would fight in continuous wars withother Taifas and with the Christians, which they would end up paying fees in exchange for protection.

Later, in the year 1079, the King of Al Qadir made a decision that would mark the future of Toledo. Upon suffering stong internal fights and the severe harrasment from the Taifa Kingdom Badajoz, he ran away. His strategy consisted in asking for help to the King who he was tributary to, Alfonso VI de León. During 1085, the Christian Monarchy conquered Toledo. Deciding to keep the core in exchange of Valencia. Like in other cities, one of the first jobs was to open the temples, and begin to build a cathedral over the Mosque.

From 1126, the archbishop Raimundo de Sauvetat organized a school in Toledo. In it, studious Castillians and stragers of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religion dedicated to translate Castillian, and then latin. Thanks to their labor, important Arab texts of medicine, astronomy, and philosophy passed to form part of the occidental culture. This is why Toledo is known as the “city of the three religions”.

It lost such condition when in June 1211 thousands of French crusader knights arrived. Their leade was the archbishop of Narbona. Outraged by the coexistence of Christians with the infidels, the Gauls assaulted the Jewishry, murdering the occupants. This was motive of a fight with King Alfonso VIII, qho ordered the exit of the army. However, after handing over the forts, the French cruzaders insisted in murdering all Muslims. Finally, the King sent them back to France. This is the reason why only Castillians, Navarros, and Argans confronted each other the following year. This was the Battle of de Tolosa.

In June of the year 1520, the Toledo militia commanded by Juan de Padilla, assaulted the Alcázar and made the Mayor flee. With him, the common revolt that began in Segovia. Defeated by the movement and with Padilla executed, in April of the following year in Villalar, his widow María de Pacheco was leader of the city until February 1522, when she had to flee to Portugal.

Fotografia antigua de la Plaza de Zocodover en Toledo capital

Ancient photograph of the Zocodover Plaza

In Spring 1577, the painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos arrived to Toledo. There he would love and ork during 37 years, until his death. Due to the difficulty of his name, he was nicknamed El Greco. The genious left a large part of his work in the province and converted into one of the most influential artists of the Spain galleries.

Centuries later, on July 22 1936, the population was a key place in the Spanish Civil War. After trying to control the city with no success, General José Moscardó locked himself in the Toledo Alcázar. Along several hundred civil guards, countrymen, and some cadets who resisted a siege until September 28th. Due to this, Francoism became a myth.

Up next, discover the travel guide of what to see in Toledo.

The travel guide to Toledo involves the city’s historical sights such as the Cathedral and the Alcazar. For this travel guide you should spend a couple of days visiting the numerous things this city offers. In case you have more time, you could also pay a visit to OcañaAranjuezGuadamur or Cabañeros Natural Park. In fact, Toledo’s city center has been declared a Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 and a great stop in our travel guide.

We begin this travel guide by entering into the city through the Bisagra’s Gate. It is the main entrance fate of the city, built upon the Muslim walls. We are now heading for Sol’s Gate, Mudejar in style, in order to finally reach Cristo de la Luz Mosque (999), which, even though it was remodelled by Christians, conserves the Muslim style.

There are numerous churches in Toledo. If you like this type of tourism, you can visit them all. If not, we would recommend you just coming by a couple of them: San Ildefonso Church (it has an interesting bell tower), San Juan de los Reyes Monastery (located already in the Jewish Quarter), Santo Tomé Church (where the famous painting The Burial of the Count of Orgaz is held). Toledo has one of the best preserved Jewish Quarters in Spain. It has two incredible synagogues: Santa María la Blanca synagogue (12th century) and the Tránsito Synagogue (built by Samuel Leví in 1357), which houses the Sephardic Museum.

Let´s continue with this travel guide.

There are many museums in Toledo that are worth a visit: the Visigothic Museum is one of the oldest buildings in the city; Victorio Macho House-Museum, which houses several sculptures of the artist that gives name to the center; El Greco House Museum, which houses important works by the artist; Santa Cruz Museum (houses by Santa Cruz Hospital), which deals with archeology and fine arts; and the Army Museum (housed by the Alcazar). The Alcazar also houses the Castilla-La Mancha Library (the second most important library in Spain). It used to be the residence of King Carlos V.

Toledo has some bridges that need to be highlighted in this travel guide: San Martín and Alcántara. The City Hall Plaza houses the Archbishop’s Palace and the famous Cathedral. From here we can have access to the famous Zocodover Plaza.

Bisagra’s Gate

Santa María Cathedral (120x59x88) has French influence.  It is one of the most important cathedrals in Spain. It has several interesting things to see inside: the Mozarab Chapel, the three gates with religious motifs (Hell, Forgiveness and Last Judgement), some other interesting gates (the Clock Gate in the north façade, the Lions Gate, and Llana Gate), the Main Chapel and Sepulcro Chapel, the cloister, the Chapter House, several chapels such as San Ildefonso (plateresque), Santiago Chapel (1435), Reyes Nuevos Chapel (a plateresque work by Covarrubias in the early 16th century), the Sacristy (housing works by El Greco, Goya, Van Dyck) and the Cathedral Treasure. This cathedral is a must see in this travel guide.

With this, we conclude our travel guide of what to see in Toledo.

Must-see...

Catedral de Toledo
Alcázar de Toledo

Practical Data

Coordinates

39° 52′ 0″ N, 4° 2′ 0″ W

Distances

Ciudad Real 117 km, Ávila 133 km, Cuenca 182 km, Madrid 71 km

Altitude

583 m

Inhabitants

83.459 (2016)

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