Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The World Heritage City of Toledo, Spain

The last leg of our holiday in September 2011 took us on a day trip to Toledo from Madrid before flying home. Its proximity to Madrid is another great reason to spend some time in Spain's wonderful capital city. We spent a wonderful day there, wandering round the winding streets enjoying the beauty of the city and from time to time seeking some shade and refreshment in the form of a cerveza and tapas.

World Heritage City Toledo was once the capital city of Spain, and it still retains the atmosphere and aura which are characteristic of so many European capital cities. Toledo is a magical place, possibly one of the most spectacular cities in the world. The buildings and winding streets contained within the old city walls hold hundreds of years of history, and the River Tajo which runs alongside the city walls adds to its charm and beauty.

During the 13th century Toledo became one of the few places in Spain where Moors, Christians and Jews managed to live together and tolerate eachother more or less peacefully (although not as idyllicly as some history accounts would have us believe), and the singular combination of styles and cultures which resulted from this period in Toledo's history is one of the city's unique characteristics. Visitors can still admire the remains of churches, mosques and sinagogues built during this time.

Toledo became a fortified city under Roman occupation - its location and the River Tajo made it an ideal fortress, and from that moment on the city became one of Spain's most important political, economic and cultural centres. The Visigods named Toledo their capital, and it retained its importance under Arab occupation. When the Spanish armies regained control of the city, it became the official residence to the Spanish Kings and Queens until the 16th Century.