Toledo is a municipality located in central Spain, 70 km south of Madrid. It is the capital of the province of Toledo and the autonomous community of Castile–La Mancha. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage and historical co-existence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures.
Toledo is known as the "Imperial City" for having been the main venue of the court of Charles I, and as the "City of the Three Cultures", having been influenced by a historical co-existence of Christians, Muslims and Jews. In 1085, the city fell to Alfonso VI of Castile as the first major city in the Christian Reconquista. Toledo has a history in the production of bladed weapons, which are now popular souvenirs of the city.
People who were born or have lived in Toledo include Al-Zarqali, Garcilaso de la Vega, Eleanor of Toledo, Alfonso X and El Greco. It was also the place of important historic events such as the Visigothic Councils of Toledo. , the city has a population of 84,019 and an area of .
The city is said to have been populated since the Bronze Age. According to Don Isaac Abrabanel, a prominent Jewish figure in Spain in the 15th century and one of the king's trusted courtiers who witnessed the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, the city Ṭulayṭulah was named by its first Jewish inhabitants who settled there in the 5th century BCE, and which name - by way of conjecture - may have been related to its Hebrew cognate טלטול (= wandering), on account of their wandering from Jerusalem. He says, furthermore, that the original name of the city was Pirisvalle, so-called by its early pagan inhabitants.
Toledo (Latin: Toletum) is mentioned by the Roman historian Livy (ca. 59 BCE – 17 CE) as urbs parva, sed loco munita (“a small city, but fortified by location”). Conquered by the Roman general Marcus Fulvius Nobilior in 193 BCE, it became an important Roman colony and the capital of Carpentia. It grew in importance during Roman times, being a main commercial and administrative centre in the Roman province of Carthaginensis. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Toledo served as the capital city of Visigothic Spain, beginning with Liuvigild (Leovigild), till the Moors conquered the Iberian peninsula in the early years of 8th century (711-719).
Under the Caliphate of Cordoba, Toledo was the center of numerous insurrections dating from 761 to 857. The Banu Qasi gained nominal control of the city until 920 and in 932 Abd-ar-Rahman III captured the city following an extensive siege. Toledo experienced a period known as La Convivencia, i.e. the co-existence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Under Islamic Arab rule, Toledo was again called Ṭulayṭulah. After the fall of the caliphate, Toledo was the capital city of one of the richest Taifas of Al-Andalus. Its population was overwhelmingly Muladi, and, because of its central location in the Iberian Peninsula, 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 in 1085 marked the first time a major city in Al-Andalus was captured by Christian forces; it served to sharpen the religious aspect of the Christian reconquest.
On May 25, 1085, Alfonso VI of Castile took Toledo and established direct personal control over the Moorish city from which he had been exacting tribute, ending the medieval Taifa's Kingdom of Toledo. This was the first concrete step taken by the combined kingdom of Leon-Castile in the Reconquista by Christian forces. 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 or Hebrew would be translated into Castilian by Muslim and Jewish scholars, and from Castilian into 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. Today, because of this rich heritage, Toledo is one of Spain's foremost cities, receiving thousands of visitors yearly. Under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toledo multiple persecutions (633, 653, 693) and stake burnings of Jews (638 CE) occurred; the Kingdom of Toledo followed up on this tradition (1368, 1391, 1449, 1486-1490 CE) including forced conversions and mass murder and the rioting and blood bath against the Jews of Toledo (1212 CE).
Toledo's Alcázar (Arabicized Latin word for palace-castle) became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.