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Summary Article: Toledo
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Capital of Toledo province in Castilla-La Mancha autonomous community, central Spain, built on a granite hill above the River Tagus; population (2001 est) 69,500. It was the capital of the Visigoth kingdom 534–711 (see Goth), then became a Moorish city, and was the Castilian capital from 1085–1560. Tourism is its most important industry; arms, swords, surgical instruments, engraved metalwork, and ceramics are manufactured here. There is a Gothic cathedral (13th–17th centuries) and several churches which preserve paintings by El Greco. The Alcázar (fortified palace) was rebuilt after the successful Nationalist defence of Toledo in the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) and became a Nationalist shrine.

In the 12th century Toledo had a flourishing steel industry and a school of translators, run by Archbishop Raymond (1125–1151), writing Latin versions of Arabic philosophical works. The painter El Greco worked here from about 1575 (his house and garden are preserved), and part of Cervantes' novel Don Quixote is set in the local landscape. Toledo is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Spain (the bishop of Toledo is the most senior Spanish cleric).

History Known as Toletum in ancient times, it fell to the Romans in 193 BC. Toledo became an early archiepiscopal see, with its archbishops becoming primates of Spain. The city prospered as the capital of the Visigothic kingdom, but its greatest prosperity came while it was under Moorish rule (712–1085), first as the seat of an emir and after 1031 as the capital of an independent kingdom. Under the Moors and later under the kings of Castile, Toledo became a centre of Spain's Moorish, Catholic, and Jewish cultures. The city's sword blades were famous throughout the world for their elasticity, strength, and craftsmanship; introduced by Moorish craftsmen, the art still continues. Toledo's commerce declined in the 16th century and the city became increasingly important as the spiritual capital of Spain, and was the seat of the Grand Inquisitors.

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Alcázar, Toledo

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