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Archive for August 31st, 2020

Sepharad is the name given by the Ancient Hebrews to the Iberian Peninsula. Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together in Spain for centuries until 1492 and their cultures, religions and customs coexisted in harmony.

We would like to introduce you one of the endless combinations to crafting a Sephardic Heritage route, covering, not only some of the most important Jewish settlements in middle-ages Spain, but also some of the most visited sites in our country. Barcelona, Girona, Segovia, Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla, Córdoba and Granada are sites of great beauty and charm, and the cradle of important and well preserved Jewish quarters. An itinerary from north-east to south Spain that will allow you to discover not only Sephardic gems but also astonishing monuments and buildings listed as Heritage Site by UNESCO. Stroll through the narrow streets of ancient Jewish quarters, enter a synagogue or visit museums that aim to preserve this legacy. Travelling to any of these cities is an experience that combines history, art, traditions and a very unique gastronomy.

Source: eSefarad
Source: eSefarad

Barcelona will be our entry airport. The city has much to offer but we will focus on its Call Jueu, the Jewish medieval district situated within the nowadays known as Gothic Quarters. Stroll around its well preserved net of narrow streets and small squares that hosts the oldest synagogue in town. Surrounding El Call, medieval churches as Santa Maria del Mar are worth a visit. Complete your day with Gaudí’s Modernist masterpieces, visit one of the countless art museums or just take a relaxing walk along the seaside and beaches.

Girona, situated 1 hour drive from Barcelona is our next stop. The so-called “City of the Four Rivers” invites visitors to trace its more than 2000 years of history through 2 fortified enclosures, dating to the Roman foundation. The city’s artistic heritage has been preserved in the numerous monuments that have survived until today.

Located within the Força Vella, the Jewish Quarter or Call is one of the city’s most emblematic areas. It consists of a labyrinth of narrow streets and patios that have maintained their medieval atmosphere and it is one of the best preserved Jewish quarters in the world and clear evidence of the importance of the Jewish culture in Girona. The heart of the district hosts a synagogue and centres of cabbalistic studies.

Set in this walled enclosure and dominating the city stands the Cathedral, with the widest Gothic nave in Medieval European architecture.

Madrid. The Jewish community of Madrid is as old as is the city. The first Jews settled here in the ninth century. The first “Judería”, name given to the Jewish neighbourhood, dates back to 1085 and laid near the present-day Teatro Real Opera House and Arenal street, right in the heart of historic Madrid. Next to the Judería was the cemetery, located in where today is Plaza de Oriente. Three centuries later, after Black Death pest, Jews were forced to move to a new district, made of some twenty homes and a synagogue, scattered across six blocks. Later on, Almudena Cathedral and the Royal Palace were built in this same area. The Jewish Community Museum of Madrid is aimed to preserve the medieval legacy of Jewish Madrid, with a collection of photographs, documents and published materials.

Source: Fundaciäon Madrid Centro Histäorico

Toledo. A true “city within a city”, this is how the madinat al-Yahud, or city of the Jews, was described, a urban space that occupies almost 10% of walled Toledo. Divided into different districts, corresponding to different stages of its expansion, the Jewish neighbourhood of Toledo is said to be one of the oldest and most important in the Iberian Peninsula.

A stroll in the Judería will bring you to visiting two emblematic synagogues: El Tránsito, hosting the Sephardic Museum, and the oldest one, Santa María La Blanca. In addition, the Casa del Judío, a house that preserves the traditional rooms can also be visited. Moreover, Toledo, the city of three cultures, has magnificent examples of architecture from different eras and styles: Mudejar, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.

Source: Turismo de Toledo

Segovia. This smaller city north Madrid has a valuable rehabilitated Jewish Quarter. Start your visit at the Jewish Quarter Educational Centre – located in the old house of Abraham Seneor – and continue to the old main synagogue – now Corpus Christi Church – and the Gate of Saint Andrew, an exceptional viewpoint to take in views of the Jewish cemetery and its anthropomorphic tombs. 

Listed by UNESCO as Heritage Site, Segovia will greatly surprise you with its famous Roman aqueduct, numerous Romanesque churches, the Cathedral and its Fortress or Alcazar, one of the most distinctive castle-palaces in Spain by virtue of its shape.

Source: Segovia Audaz

Sevilla. Nowadays the capital city of Andalucia, Sevilla has a gorgeous heritage to offer. The Real Alcázar, Europe’s oldest palace, and the Giralda Cathedral, listed as well as UNESCO World Heritage sites, are just a couple of examples no visitor will miss. With focus into Jewish history, we will stroll in the most famous district of Sevilla, Santa Cruz Quarter, which was the place that hosted the old Judería – Jewish neighbourhood, a labyrinth formed by narrow streets and charming small squares.

Córdoba. Discover the European city that hosts most UNESCO Heritage World Sites. The Jewish Quarter reveals spots that still retain the medieval memory of the city of three cultures, with Sepharad house, Tiberiades square and the street where the old secluded synagogue is located. Maimonides was born within the walls of old Córdoba, the best-known part of the historic centre. We cannot leave the city without stopping to visit the impressive Mosque-Cathedral, a unique building in the world.

Source: Junta de Andalucía

Granada. Most famous for its spectacular Moorish fortress, the Alhambra, Granada was once a place of religious tolerance with thriving Jewish community. Situated at the foot of Sierra Nevada mountains and overlooked by the imposing Alhambra Palace, the city hosts a cosy Jewish Quarter –  El Realejo – and a cosy neighbourhood with white houses, step streets and squares, the famous Albayzin.

Like all Jewish communities in Spain, Jewish Granada prospered under the Ummayad caliphate (755-1013), the dynasty that ruled Al-Andalus from Alhambra city. They were involved in the cotton and silk trade, as well as in banking and jewelry.  

Source: Guías Viajar

Granada seems to us a suitable place to end this tour. It was here the Treaty of Granada was signed in 1491, also known as the Capitulation of Granada, to end the war between Sultan of Granada and Catholic Kingdom of Ferdinand and Isabella. This treaty was also the end of the Jewish era in Spain: as a result of the decree and the prior prosecution, Jews in Spain were forced to either convert or be expelled. Over 200,000 converted to Catholicism and between 40,000 and 100,000 left the new Catholic Kingdom.

Write us an e-mail or give us a call, we will be glad to design a suitable proposal for you.  

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