Toledo is a city and municipality located in central Spain; it is the capital of the province of Toledo and the autonomous community of Castile–La Mancha. Toledo was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive monumental and cultural heritage.
Toledo is known as the “Imperial City” for having been the main venue of the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and as the “City of the Three Cultures” for the cultural influences of Christians, Muslims and Jews reflected in its history. It was also the capital from 542 to 725 AD of the ancient Visigothic kingdom, which followed the fall of the Roman Empire, and the location of historic events such as the Visigothic Councils of Toledo. Toledo has a long history in the production of bladed weapons, which are now common souvenirs from the city.
The history of Toledo dates back to Roman occupation (Toletum) circa 192BC. The ruins of the Roman circus are still visible just outside the walls of the city. Roman occupation was followed by Visigoth rule, Muslim rule and finally the Reconquest of Toledo in 1085AD. Toledo was the capital of the Spanish empire until the mid-1500s when the royal court moved to Madrid. The winding, cobbled streets of the old town are often crowded with locals and tourists, as well as a surprisingly large number of cars and vans. Don’t miss the 13th century cathedral or the Alcázar which sits atop the town and dates back to Roman times.
As a visitor to Toledo, you are not allowed to pick or collect anything off the street because the entire city is a gazetted monument. However, there are souvenir shops where one can buy mementos. You get a better view of the ancient city as you enjoy local meals in one of the hotels across at the banks of Tagus River.
To get to the old town you have to go through one of the monumental gates on the walls, like, for example, the Bisagra Gate, Alcántara Gate or del Sol Gate. It is worth spending time in the cathedral: the spectacular chapels, the choir and the paintings in the vestry are impressive. Next to it you will find Renaissance buildings: the Archbishop’s Palace and the Town Hall. The Alcázar fortress, which houses the National Army Museum, is another emblematic building. In the Jewish Quarter you will get to El Greco House-Museum and to the Santa Maria la Blanca and Tránsito synagogues. The latter houses the Sephardic Museum. The Cristo de la Luz Mosque reminds us of the Islamic past of the city. But the list of places to visit is even longer: amongst other places, the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, the Santa Cruz Museum, and the Church of Santo Tomé, where the famous painting “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz” by El Greco can be seen.