The proud city in the southern Meseta stands high above the Tagus River. Churches, houses and palaces are located on a hilltop, surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River. The castle was once founded to guard the river crossings: medieval bridges that still exist today. Toledo is one of Spain's oldest cities and had long been capital city when it was conquered in 192 BC by the Romans. For 350 years they prospered as Moorish gunsmiths and scientific stronghold under the Caliph of Cordoba, before Alfonso VI recaptured the city for Christianity and made it the royal residence. Then a period of intolerance with anti-Jewish pogroms, persecution of witches and the Inquisition began. When the residence was moved to Madrid in 1561, Toledo lost its importance. The beauty of the city with its scintillating history is revealed on a tour. The magnificent cathedral – the symbol of Toledo – stands on the ruins of a Moorish mosque.
Life between discrimination and displacement
After Toledo was reconquered by the Spanish crown, not all Jews and Muslims were immediately expelled. Those who adapted to the Catholic environment were tolerated as citizens of lesser right. They were called the Mudejares, derived from the Arabic word for “subservient”. The synagogue of 1366 is such a “mudejares” building. The single-aisle room is decorated with circulating verses from the Thora. The Jews were allowed to use their church for 150 years – until they was finally expelled by Isabella of Castile in 1492. Then an order of knights confiscated the building, while the Spanish Jews (Sephardim) had to migrate north and settled mainly in Central Europe. Today the building houses the Museo Sefardi, which informs about the splendid history and culture of the Spanish Jews.