Although Toledo, Spain and Toledo, OH are vastly different places, their stories have been intertwined for centuries. The two cities share a rich history of architectural influences and art exchanges. With the oldest sister city relationship in the world, the two Toledos have been cultivating international relations and promoting cultural connections for nearly a hundred years.
From the beginning, the two Toledos have established a relationship that shares the culture of both places, with a particular focus on art and architecture.
In the 1920s, the Rosary Cathedral in Ohio was designed with the Spanish Plateresque style in mind — the only building designed with this specific style in North America. The foundation of Plateresque is inspired by the Moors, the creators of the Islamic Andalusian civilization. Plateresque is not considered its own classification of architecture, as it has no originality in structure, but is unique in its stone decoration designs, which are based on the patterns of silversmiths. The inside of the Rosary Cathedral also houses a stone from the Cathedral of Toledo in Spain that was gifted by the Spaniards to the church as a gesture of friendship.
Spanish architecture is also highlighted at the Ohio city’s Toledo Zoo. The Elephant House was built in 1923 in a Spanish colonial revival style. This style is popularized by its stucco walls and red tiled roofs. Now, the Elephant House is used as a meeting space and conference center, but many of its original design elements still remain. Another building, the Giraffe House, was also completed in a Spanish colonial style in 1928, followed by the Lion House. The Giraffe House was demolished in 1984 — but a remnant of its copper and glass skylight can be found in one of the zoo’s walkways — and the Lion House has since been converted into the zoo’s cafe.