Toledo, Spain, the capital of Toledo province in New Castile. It is in central Spain, 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Madrid. Toledo is situated on a rocky bluff, surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River. Three bridges, two of which date from medieval times, span the Tagus. Because of its historical and cultural significance, Toledo has been made a national monument. Modern construction is prohibited, and the city looks today much as it did in the 16th century.
The Cathedral, begun in 1226 and mixing Gothic with Moorish, Renaissance, and Baroque styles, is one of the largest and most beautiful cathedrals in Spain. On the highest point in the city stands a replica of the Alcázar. The original structure, built as a fortress in the Middle Ages and reconstructed in the 16th century as a palace for Charles V, was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. Its ruins are maintained as a monument to the Franco forces who defended it during a 67-day siege. Casa del Greco, a 16th-century mansion near the site where El Greco once lived, is a museum displaying his works and those of other Spanish artists. The provincial museum, containing archeological exhibits and paintings, is housed in a 16th-century Renaissance building.
Toledo sword blades, famous since Roman times, are still made. Firearms, ceramics, textiles, and religious ornaments are also manufactured here. However, tourism is the mainstay of Toledo's economy.
Toledo was an established city when the Romans captured it in 193 B.C. In 584 A.D. it became the site of the court of the Visigothic kings. The Moors captured the city in 712. Under Moorish rule Toledo prospered as a city of commerce and culture. After it was conquered by Alfonso VI in 1085, it was the residence of the kings of Castile until the 15th century and of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, early in the 16th century. Under Ferdinand and Isabella, Toledo became the seat of the Spanish Inquisition. In 1561 Philip II made Madrid the capital, and Toledo began to decline.
The population, comparatively large during the city's height in the Middle Ages, is about 61,000.