Arts and culture
Cervantes described Toledo as a "rocky gravity, glory of Spain, and light of her cities." The old city is located on a mountaintop, surrounded on three sides by a bend in the River Tagus, and contains many historical sights, including the Alcázar, the cathedral (the primate church of Spain), and the Zocodover, a central marketplace.
From the 5th 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 Visigoth King Reccared declared his conversion from Arianism; the synod of 633, guided by the encyclopedist Isidore of Seville, 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 - 66 concerned itself with the execution of the decrees of the Council of Trent; and the last council held at Toledo, 1582 - 83, was guided in detail by Philip II.
Toledo was famed for religious tolerance and had large communities of Jews and Muslims until they were expelled from Spain in 1492; the city therefore has important religious monuments like the Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca, the Synagogue of El Transito, and the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz.
In the 13th century Toledo was a major cultural center under the guidance of Alphonso X, called "El Sabio" ("the Wise") for his love of learning. The Toledo school of translators rendered available great academic and philosophical works in Arabic and Hebrew by translating them into into Latin, bringing vast stores of knowledge to Europe for the first time.
The cathedral is remarkable for its incorporation of light and no part is more remarkable than the Baroque transparente, or back of the altar screen, several stories high, with fantastic figures of stucco, painting, bronze castings, and multiple colors of marble, a masterpiece of medieval mixed media by Narciso Tomei topped by the daily effect for just a few minutes of a shaft of sunlight striking it through a hole in the roof, giving the impression that the whole altar is rising to heaven.
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.
See also: Spain, Iberian Peninsula
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