The birth of what is currently Toledo dates back to the Bronze Age when there were rudimentary settlements. Not until 193 BC would Roman troops conquer the settlement and rename it Toletum, which eventually became Toledo.
Throughout the centuries, the Romans left impressive constructions that remain standing to this day. Among them, the most famous is the enormous aqueduct. However, in the year 411, the Alans razed the city, which later passed into the hands of the Visigoths.
After the Christian conversion, Toledo became one of the largest towns in the Iberian Peninsula, exceeding 10,000 inhabitants. It quickly prospered economically and became a highly coveted target.
Mozarabic period and subsequent reconquest
In 711, Mozarabic Muslim troops conquered the city, which came under the rule of the Caliphate of Córdoba after a long period of internal fighting between the different Muslim factions that ended in 932.
Not until the 11th century would Alfonso VI de León manage to take the city after a long siege and a complex negotiation with the Taifa kingdom to obtain security for the Mozarabic and Jewish population.
Thanks to this understanding, Toledo experienced a period of socioeconomic, cultural and political splendour, founding countless schools, temples and palaces that flourished throughout the 12th and 13th centuries.
However, the initial tolerance did not last long. The Mozarabs and the Jews were expelled and Toledo entered a period of political instability that lasted for centuries until the Catholic Monarchs managed to appease the situation in 1492, after the reconquest had ended.
Flourishing and decay
Under the aegis of the Catholic Monarchs, Toledo expanded its geographical limits and increased its political and economic influence, reaching great autonomy—so much so that it was one of the first cities to support the War of the Communities in 1520, until it attained one of the seats of the imperial court. By 1522, Toledo had exceeded 60,000 inhabitants.
However, the definitive transfer of the court to Madrid, and the subsequent adoption as the capital of the kingdom in 1561 at the hands of Philip II, affected the enormous influence achieved by Toledo. This ruined its prosperous textile industry, causing a serious period of decay. The situation worsened after an epidemic in 1580 that decimated the city and wiped out almost one-third of the population.
With the arrival of the Real Compañía de Comercio during the 18th century, Toledo's situation improved a little, though the immense influence of the past had ended. The city was condemned to be a mere administrative city.
The long turbulent period
The fragile stability achieved by Toledo collapsed when Napoleonic troops invaded Spain and the city was forced to confront the French.
Throughout the 19th century, the city remained submerged in instability until the confiscation policy arrived. This expropriated a large number of ecclesiastical buildings and completely changed the urban profile of Toledo.
Although the 19th century is considered a long period of decline for the city, Toledo managed to stabilize the precarious situation somewhat with the arrival of new means of communication and the founding of some industries.
With the arrival of the 20th century, Toledo maintained a fragile stability. However, after the economic depression of 1929 and the political turbulence that shook all of Spain, the city was submerged in instability, which worsened after the arrival of the Second Republic in 1931 and the subsequent outbreak of the traumatic Spanish Civil War in 1936.
Toledo remained under Republican rule from the start of hostilities but the Francoist counter-offensive was devastating. It razed entire sectors of the city and sparked bloody political purges that lasted throughout the war and continued with Franco's triumph.
Democracy and the future
Finally, with the advent of democracy, Toledo was able to recover the prosperity of the past by regaining autonomy thanks to the designs of the Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha and the subsequent entry of Spain into the European Union.
This series of circumstances allowed Toledo to recover the splendour of the past and become a dynamic city and attractive tourist site thanks to its immense heritage and historical value as well as the rebound of its industry.
However, the crash of 2008 seriously affected Toledo at all socioeconomic levels, especially in terms of the closure of industries, the terrible consequences regarding real estate and the high unemployment, which reached a historical record over the next five years.
The 21st century looms as a period of great challenges for Toledo as it seeks to overcome the ravages of the long period of unemployment and the enormous competition resulting from globalization, especially from Chinese and Southeast Asian goods and services companies, which compete at the manufacturing level.