Established in 1931, the Toledo, Ohio - Toledo, Spain connection is the oldest formally recognized sister-city relationship in the world. The cultural and historical connection, however, goes back to at least 1835.
In that year the fledgling local newspaper, The Blade, figuratively rattled sabers, made of steel from the Spanish city, in defense of Ohio's claim to what is now Toledo, during the dustup with Michigan in what came to be known as the "Toledo War." Spanish and American Toledoans probably first met personally at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. In 1909 Wamba, a medieval Spanish king, was chosen as patron and centerpiece of a folk festival along the banks of the Maumee. In the early twentieth century, two University of Toledo presidents visited Spain and adopted a Spanish crest and a Spanish motto for the institution. And in the 1920s Toledo, Ohio's Rosary Cathedral was designed with a Spanish model in mind.
In 1934 a delegation of local dignitaries, including a high school student, was invited by the city council of Toledo, Spain and the government of the Spanish Republic to attend the week-long Corpus Christi celebrations in Toledo, Spain. Plans were made for a Spanish delegation to return the visit in 1937 as part of Toledo, Ohio's centennial celebrations. However, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and a dozen years of Spanish political isolation impeded any further formal contacts until the late 1950s.
A Spanish delegation finally arrived in 1962, twenty-five years late. Since then, several formal exchange delegations, including several mayors and local dignitaries, have gone in both directions. Activities over the years have included student, athletic, and artistic exchanges. In 1962 the first satellite phone call, via Telstar, between Spain and the US was between the city halls of our two cities. In 1966 the film El Greco, staring Mel Ferrer, was premiered in the Ohio Toledo. In 1971, in response to the naming of "Toledo, Ohio Street" in Spain, "Toledo Spain Plaza" was dedicated at the corner of Monroe and Collingwood. In the same year, Toledo, Ohio donated a Jeep to the municipal police of Toledo, Spain.
Distance from Toledo, Oh: 4,003 miles
Benefit: Scholarship from The University of Toledo
In 1982 the Toledo Museum of Art hosted a magnificent exhibition of paintings by El Greco, and 1990 featured the dedication of the stunning mural of the two Toledos which can be viewed today in the lobby of the Real Seafood restaurant at International Park. On the fiftieth anniversary, in 1981, large delegations went in both directions, and the Americans were received by King Juan Carlos. On the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary, King Juan Carlos, presiding at a ceremony of the Royal Foundation of Toledo, presented a plaque to the American delegation commemorating our enduring relationship.