2010 World Monument Watch
The Vega Alta and the Vega Baja of Toledo are the upper and lower fertile valleys along the banks of the Tagus River where it enters and exits the historic city. The interrelationship between this countryside and the Toledo cityscape form a striking landscape that has been cited in the works of the great Spanish writers Cervantes, Tirso de Molina, and many others. These verdant vistas have also graced the canvases of the painters El Greco, Sorolla, Zuloaga, Beruete, José y Enrique Vera, and Arredondo. The natural beauty of the meandering banks of the Tagus combined with important built heritage has contributed a lasting character to the landscape. Vega Alta contains valuable archaeological remains from the Paleolithic, Roman, Muslim, and medieval eras. Vega Baja is a place of great religious significancefor Toledo and for Spain, because the patron saint of Toledo, Leocadia, is buried here. It also contains an abundance of archaeological zones featuring Roman villas with rich mosaics, a circus, theater, basilica, and even the Visigoth royal city. The historic city of Toledo and its landscape were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1986. Now, however, planned development on the riverbanks for 7,000 housing units and more than 2 million square feeet (200,000 square meters) of large-scale facilities severely threatens this heralded cultural landscape and highlights the complex tension between urban growth and heritage preservation.