The city has played an important role in Spanish history. Of obscure origin (its name is derived from the Arabic), it was conquered by the Christians from the Moors in the 10th cent., rose to prominence in the 12th and 13th cent., and largely replaced Toledo as the chief residence of the kings of Castile in the 15th cent. In 1469 it was the scene of the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella. Christopher Columbus died (1506) in the city. It declined greatly after 1561, when Philip II made Madrid the Spanish capital (the capital was returned to Valladolid 1600–1606). Many of its older buildings were destroyed by the French during the Peninsular War (1808–14).
Today Valladolid remains an important cultural center. Its university, founded in 1346, has a rich library with valuable manuscripts. The house of Columbus and the house where Cervantes wrote part of Don Quixote have been preserved. Other landmarks include the Colegio de Santa Cruz, built in the plateresque style, now housing a museum; the Colegio de San Gregorio (15th cent.), with a lavishly adorned facade; the former royal palace; and the churches of San Pablo and Santa María Antigua (12th–13th cent.).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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