Talavera de la Reina, Toledo, Spain

Category: Toledo

Are you planning to visit the Toledo region of Spain, a city that serves as the capital for both the province of Toledo and the Autonomous Community of Castile-La Mancha?  If you are, you should really take the time to visit Talavera de la Reina, a beautiful nearby city and municipality that is also a member of the Toledo province.  Below we have compiled a few interesting facts regarding Talavera de la Reina, including some information about its population, characteristics, and history.

Talavera de la Reina

Overview

In terms of population, Talavera de la Reina, with nearly 84,000 permanent residents, is the second largest city in the Autonomous Community of Castile-La Mancha and the largest city in the province of Toledo, larger even than the city of Toledo itself, the provincial capital.  The city is settled along the Rio Tajo, or Tagus River, at a broad bank.  Two islands can be found in the center of the city—the Isla Grande and Chamelo Island.  The city is encircled by a pair of mountain ranges:  the Sierra de San Vicente, in the north; and the Montes de Toledo, in the south.  The Tagus River cuts Talavera de la Reina in two.  The northern part is larger and boasts a higher population; both parts are connected by three bridges that span the Tagus, the oldest of which was built during the Middle Ages.  The climate in the city is defined as continental, characterized by cold and often wet and foggy winters, and warm, sometimes hot summers.  In general, the area is very fertile, supporting Mediterranean forests, elms, olive trees and corks.

History/Toponymy

Evidence of prehistoric cultures living in the area now known as Talavera de la Reina has made the city a regular topic among Spanish historians.  The village was founded by the Celts as a Ford of the Tagus River, and was given the name Aebura.  It was first mentioned in Livy’s description of a battle between the Romans and the Carpetanoi, a Celtiberian tribe.  Its name was later changed to Caesarobriga following the Roman conquest of Hispania, and served as an important center for both agriculture and ceramics during Roman times.  The Visigoth era, which followed the Roman period, saw the city revert back to a variant of its Celtiberian name:  Elbora or Ebora.  Its current name is derived from the word Talabayra, the Muslim rendering of “Elbora.”  Following the Christian conquest of 1083 by the armies of Alfonso VI of Castile, the name of the city was changed to Talavera de la Reina.
Sites and Characteristics

Talavera de la Reina, although not as well known as some of the other centralized Spanish cities, such as Madrid and Toledo, is renowned internationally for its craftsmanship.  Chief among these crafts is the work performed with ceramics, which King Philip II of Spain used as tiled revetments in many of his works, including the world-famous monastery known as El Escorial.  These works have earned Talavera de la Reina the nickname the “City of Pottery (La Ciudad de la Ceramica)”  Interestingly, the famous ceramic pottery of Mexico, known as “Talavera Pottery,” was named after this Spanish city.

There are a number of outstanding landmarks and monuments to see when visiting Talavera de la Reina.  Some of these include the Archiepiscopal Palace, built in the 17th century in the baroque style of architecture and situated in the Plaza del Pan, the most popular gathering spot for Talavera residents; Cervantes College, with a gorgeous renaissance façade; and the Bridge of Santa Catalina, which spans the River Tagus.

Also in the city are a great number of significant religious buildings, including the collegiate Church of Santa Maria la Mayor, built in the late 12th century in the Gothic-Mudejar style, with a magnificent façade and tower, a splendid reredos and beautiful cloister; the Mudejar-styled Church of Santiago, with Gothic influences; the Basilica of the Virgen del Prado, built in the 16th and 17th centuries and now a popular museum; and the Renaissance-themed Church of San Prudencio, a brilliant example of 16th century architecture.