Toledo (Latin: Toletum) is a city and municipality located in central Spain, 70 km south of Madrid. It is the capital of the province of Toledo and of 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 as one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire and place of coexistence of Christian, Jewish and Moorish cultures. Many famous people and artists were born or lived in Toledo, including Garcilaso de la Vega, Alfonso X and El Greco, and it was the place of important historic events such as the Visigothic Councils of Toledo. As of 2007, the city has a population of 78.618 and an area of 232.1 km² (89.59 square miles).
Toledo once served as the capital city of Visigothic Spain, beginning with Liuvigild (Leovigild), and was the capital until the Moors conquered Iberia in the 8th century. Under the Caliphate of Cordoba, Toledo enjoyed a golden age. 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 (Arabic طليطلة, academically transliterated Ṭulayṭulah).
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, and ending the mediaeval 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.
Toledo was famed for its production of iron and especially of swords and the city is still a center for the manufacture of knives and other steel implements. When Philip II moved the royal court from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the old city went into a slow decline from which it never recovered.
The Muslim scientists of this age were unrivaled in the world. Perhaps among their greatest feats were the famous waterlocks of Toledo.
The old city is located on a mountaintop and it gets up to 150 degrees, surrounded on three sides by a bend in the Tagus River, and contains many historical sites, including the Alcázar, the cathedral (the primate church of Spain), and the Zocodover, a central market place.
From the 4th century to the 16th century about thirty synods were held at Toledo. The earliest, directed against Priscillian, assembled in 400. At the synod of 589 the Visigothic King Reccared declared his conversion from Arianism; the synod of 633 decreed uniformity of liturgy throughout the Visigothic kingdom and took stringent measures against baptized Jews who had relapsed into their former faith. The council of 681 assured to the archbishop of Toledo the primacy of Spain.
As nearly one hundred early canons of Toledo found a place in the Decretum Gratiani, they exerted an important influence on the development of ecclesiastical law. The synod of 1565–1566 concerned itself with the execution of the decrees of the Council of Trent; and the last council held at Toledo, 1582–1583, was guided in detail by Philip II.
Toledo was famed for religious tolerance and had large communities of Muslims and Jews until they were expelled from Spain in 1492 (Jews) and 1502 (Muslims). Today's city contains the religious monuments the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, the Synagogue of El Transito, and the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz dating from before the expulsion, still maintained in good condition. Among Ladino-speaking Sephardi Jews, in their various diasporas, the family name Toledano is still prevalent - indicating an ancestry traced back to this city (the name is also attensted among non-Jews in various Spanish-speaking countries).
In the 13th century, Toledo was a major cultural center under the guidance of Alfonso X, called "El Sabio" ("the Wise") for his love of learning. The program of translations, begun under Archbishop Raymond of Toledo, continued to bring vast stores of knowledge to Europe by rendering great academic and philosophical works in Arabic into Latin.
The Cathedral of Toledo (Catedral de Toledo) was built between 1226-1493 and modeled after the Bourges Cathedral, though it also combines some characteristics of the Mudéjar style. It is remarkable for its incorporation of light and features the Baroque altar called El Transparente, several stories high, with fantastic figures of stucco, paintings, bronze castings, and multiple colors of marble, a masterpiece of medieval mixed media by Narciso Tomé topped by the daily effect for just a few minutes of a shaft of light from which this feature of the cathedral derives its name. Two notable bridges secured access to Toledo across the Tajo, the Puente de Alcántara and the later built Puente de San Martín.
Toledo was home to El Greco for the latter part of his life, and is the subject of some of his most famous paintings, including The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, exhibited in the Church of Santo Tomé.
Additionally, the city was renowned throughout the Middle Ages and into the present day as an important center for the production of swords and other bladed instruments.