CULTURE & HERITAGE - Culture & History

The Jews of Spain... PART VI


Unesco: Historic City of Toledo
Successively a Roman municipium, the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of the Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors and, in the 16th century, the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V, Toledo is the repository of more than 2,000 years of history.

Its masterpieces are the product of heterogeneous civilizations in an environment where the existence of three major religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – was a major factor.

From Wikipedia : History
Having been populated since the Bronze Age, Toledo (Toletum in Latin) grew in importance during Roman times, being a main commercial and administrative centre in the Roman province of Tarraconensis. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Toledo served as the capital city of Visigothic Spain, beginning with Liuvigild (Leovigild), and was the capital of Spain until the Moors conquered Iberia in the 8th century.
Under the Caliphate of Cordoba, Toledo enjoyed a golden age; it became a very large cosmopolitan city.

This extensive period is known as La Convivencia, i.e. the co-existence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Under Arab rule, Toledo was called Tulaytulah. After the fall of the Caliphate, Toledo was the capital city of one of the richest Taifas of Al-Andalus. Toledo took a central position in the struggles between the Muslim and Christian rulers of northern Spain. The conquest of Toledo by Alfonso VI of Castile marked the first time a major city in Al-Andalus had fallen to Christian forces; it served to sharpen the religious aspect of the Christian reconquest.

Remains of Roman circus at Toledo.
After Castilian conquest, Toledo continued to be a major cultural centre; its Arab libraries were not pillaged, and a tag-team translation centre was established in which books in Arabic would be translated from Arabic or Hebrew to Spanish by Arab and Jewish scholars, and from Spanish to Latin by Castilian scholars, thus letting long-lost knowledge spread through Christian Europe again.

For some time during the 16th century, Toledo served as the capital city of Castile, and the city flourished. However, soon enough the Spanish court was moved, first to Valladolid and then to Madrid, thus letting the city's importance dwindle until the late 20th century, when it became the capital of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. Nevertheless, the economic decline of the city helped to preserve its cultural and architectural heritage.

...After the fall of Granada in 1492, the cultural tolerance came to an abrupt end. Moslems and Jews were forced either to flee or convert to Catholicism: giving rise to what were known as Conversos. Carlos I was about to make Toledo the permanent capital in the 16th century, but then arose a revolt against him: the  Guerra de las Communidades. Then his successor, Felipe II, definitively moved the capital to Madrid.

......Toledo's pre-eminence faded over the next few hundred years, only spotlighted by the 17th century brilliance of El Greco. It would not play a large part in Spanish history until the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, when the siege of the Alcazar became a symbol of endurance to the Fascists.

In 1986 UNESCO declared the entire city 'a monument of world interest to humanity'. Toledo, bereft of its former power, has become like Venice, redolent with past glories and overflowing with tourists.