Known as the “city of the three cultures” -Christian, Arab and Jewish- and the city were El Greco lived for a long time; Toledo preserves an artistic and cultural legacy that makes the old quarter of the capital of La Mancha a real open-air museum, which has led to it being declared a World Heritage Site.
The city of Toledo has its origins in Toletum, the name the Romans gave to this settlement on the banks of the River Tagus after its conquest in 190 BC. The city maintained its importance for centuries and, in the Visigothic era, became the capital of Hispania (6th C.). The arrival of the Arabs in the 8th century, together with the presence of Christians and Jews, made Toledo the “city of the three cultures”. This was one of the Toledo's most splendid periods when, among other important events, the Toledo School of Translators was founded. Later, when Carlos V came to the throne in 1519, the city became an imperial capital.
The way that Christians, Arabs and Jews lived side by side has been reflected in the form of a great artistic and cultural legacy. Synagogues, mosques and churches jostle in the narrow streets of Toledo. The historic centre is only bounded by walls in which many gates were opened : the Bisagra gate, the Alfonso VI gate and the Sol gate. Via these you can reach the Plaza de Zocodover or the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz, built in 999 as a copy of the Mosque at Córdoba.
Good examples from the Mozarabs (Christians who lived under Moslem rule) are the churches of San Sebastián and Santa Eulalia, while the Mudejars left in Toledo a style with rich Arab decoration, as we can see in Santiago del Arrabal -known as the Mudejar Cathedral. The same Mudejar style can be seen in the church of Santo Tomé, famous for housing El Greco's famous picture entitled “El entierro del Conde Orgaz” (The burial of Count Orgaz). His House-Museum exhibits some of the best works of the painter.
Remains of the Jewish community are still preserved in the city in the synagogues of Santa María la Blanca and El Tránsito. In the synagogue of El Tránsito, built in 1357, you can admire one of the best Mudejar coffered ceilings of all those preserved. One of the most outstanding buildings in the city is the Cathedral, considered one of the high points of Gothic art and which houses a rich collection of works by painters like Goya, El Greco and Van Dyck. Also Gothic are the San Martín bridge and the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes. Meanwhile, the Fortress, of medieval origin, presides over the whole city and contains a military museum.
Toledo is also renowned for its festivities, as the Corpus Christi, and the Cabañeros National Park, a protected area that combines Mediterranean woodland in the mountains and meadows on the wide plains. The Corpus Christi, which has centuries of tradition and has been declared of International Tourist Interest, has its culminating moment in a large and colourful procession going round the historic centre of the capital of La Mancha. Do not hesitate and come to discover what Toledo is offering to the visitors!!!