Marabou recently spent a few days in Toledo, Spain. Toledo’s history includes Romans, Visigoths, Muslims, Jews, and Christians, and their legacy is layered in the architecture and infrastructure of the city itself. This made Marabou think about acknowledgement and erasure in our everyday built environment.
The naming of streets, squares, and places often remind us of the most recent conquerors. Repurposed buildings may only hint at their initial uses and who used them in their design. An example of this is one of the entry ways into Toledo’s Old City surrounded by walls. The doorway is now called Puerta de Alfonso VI (“the door of Alfonso VI”), but was the original entry gate to the city under Muslim rule. It’s named after Alfonso because he “won” Toledo for Christian Spain – and that was the doorway he entered Toledo to begin his conquest.
This layering of history takes place everywhere, so Toledo is not unique, but it is an example and reminder of how our built environment is curated. Marabou thinks we should take time to think about our surroundings, whose names, whose histories are being celebrated and whose are not.