Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Toledo(2.)

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TOLEDO, the capital of the above province, and once of the whole of Spain, stands upon a circle of seven hills, 2400 feet above the sea, and washed on three sides by the Tagus. It is 37 miles west-south-west of Madrid. The river is spanned by two fine stone bridges, the Alcantara, a Moorish bridge of a single arch, giving entrance to the city from the east, and the other, that of San Martin, from the west, while between them the river makes a sweep southwards. The place is enclosed on the land side by two walls, still in fairly perfect condition, the inner one being built by King "VVamba in the 7th century, the outer by Alfonso VI. in 1109. The gates are numerous and well preserved, the most noteworthy being the famous Puerta del Sol, the Puerta Visagra, and the Cambron. Some Roman remains (a circus, &c.) lie without the walls, on the plain to the north-west. The appearance of Toledo from a distance is imposing in the extreme, from its noble situation and the terraced lines of its buildings; but upon a nearer approach it reveals itself as dull and decayed enough, with little or no traffic in the streets, and a strange silence brooding over all its ways. The houses are large, massive, and gloomy, generally Moorish in style, of the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, with a great central patio (courtyard), and yielding abundant traces of Arabic decoration. The principal public square is the Zocodover. It forms the favourite promenade, and from it the one fairly wide street of the city leads to the cathedral. The latter is the glory of Toledo, and one of the finest monuments of art in Spain. Built upon the site of an ancient mosque, and commenced in 1227, it was completed in 1492; and, though sacked over and over again, finally by the French under La Houssaye in 1808, it is still, with the excep tion, perhaps, of the cathedral of Seville, the richest and most magnificent foundation in the Peninsula. The ex terior is unfortunately hidden to a great extent by mean surrounding buildings, but the fine western fa9ade, with its two towers, one rising 325 feet, is effective. The interior is somewhat dwarfed in appearance by the immense width. It is 404 feet long by 204 feet broad, and is divided by 84 pillars into five naves, with central lantern and choir, and a complete series of side chapels. Most of these- latter are late additions, of the 15th and 16th centuries, and are very magnificent in detail. The 16th-century stained-glass windows, chiefly of Flemish work, are superb; and the treasury, reliquaries, and library, not withstanding their repeated despoilings, are not unworthy of the see which styles itself the "first of all the Spains." In the Muzarabic chapel the ritual known by that name is still performed daily. Within the precincts of the cathedral are interred the archbishops and cardinals Tenorio, Fonseca, Mendoza, Ximenez, the great constable Alvaro de Luna, and a long array of kings and heroes. The archbishop is primate of Spain, and has for suffragans Coria, Cuenca, Siguenza, and Palencia. Besides the cathedral Toledo still possesses a great number of fine churches and other religious buildings, together with numerous Moorish and Jewish monuments. The most important church is the 15th-century florid Gothic San Juan de los Keyes, built by Ferdinand and Isabella. The best Moorish work is to be found in the old Jewish synagogues of Santa Maria la Blanca and El Transito, in the mosques of Cristo de la Luz and Las Tornerias, in some private houses, and in the later churches of San Koman, Santo Tome, Santiago, and Santa Leocadia. The patio and staircase of the hospital of Santa Cruz pre sent some of the finest Renaissance work extant. Seen from afar, the Alcazar, or royal palace, is one of the most conspicuous features of the city. It stands upon a com manding position overlooking the Tagus, and was origin ally built by King Wamba, but has been repeatedly altered and pulled about. It was almost entirely rebuilt by Charles V. and Philip II., under the architects Covarrubias and Herrera, and has lately been converted into a huge military academy. The city is provided with numerous elementary schools, a public library, museum, town-hall, and several large hospitals. The well-known manufactory of swords is about a mile to the north-west, beyond the Cambron gate. It is in excellent order, and produces blades as perfect as ever, but is no longer of great importance, employing only about 120 hands.

Toledo existed in the time of the Romans, who conquered it in 193 B.C. They strengthened the fortifications, and built an aqueduct to supply the place with water. By the Goths, who captured the city in 467 A.D., these works were kept up and improved; and, under the Moorish domination, from 714 to 1085, Toledo was second only to Cordova in rank and importance, with a population of 200,000 souls. Alfonso VI. of Castile and Leon recovered the stronghold in 1085; and under him and his successors it continued to flourish until the permanent establishment of the court at Madrid gave a deathblow to its prosperity. The population now is no more than 20,000.