Toledo is one of the most important cities in Spain, from an historical, artistic and architectural point of view. Toledo was the capital of the Spanish Visigothic kingdom from 554 AD until the Moorish conquest in 711 AD. The Old City still shelters behind the ramparts which were built, on Roman ruins, by King Wamba the Goth and then strengthened and enlarged by Arabs and Christians alike. For three centuries Toledo was incorporated into the Emirate of Cordova only regaining its independence in 1012 AD. In cultural terms, Toledos most brilliant period was in the Middle Ages, when the civilisations of East and West - Moorish, Jewish, and Christian -coexisted there, to produce the distinctive Mudejar style of art and architecture, in which the dominant influence remains Islamic.
The Alcantara bridge was first constructed in 866 AD, close to the ruins of a Roman bridge. The Arab bridge was in turn washed away, except for the piers and abutments, in 1257 and reconstructed by Alfonso X. There were further restorations in the 15th and 16th Centuries. The masonry of the bridge contains stones of Roman, Visagothic and Arab origin, as do the nearby walls. The massive tower guarding the West end of the bridge is Mudejar work. The gate beyond was undoubtedly one of the oldest entries to the city, for the Roman Toletum, and subsequently the Visigothic Palace of Galiana and the Arab Medina crowned the slope behind it. It was however blocked by a toll-keepers cottage, and when at fell into disuse another set of steps leading up the outside of the walls took its place. The old sunken passageway was used as a tip, and when the restoration was decided it was entirely full of refuse. On removing the fill it was found that the archways and retaining walls of the entrance, with its typical chicane, were still in a sound state. It was also decided to create a new way up to the town above, which would supersede the steep and tiring stairway outside the ramparts. Both retaining walls for the new route were still in existence and all that was needed was to consolidate them and build the lower one up with granite blocks found in-situ.