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Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Welcome to one of Europe’s last unspoiled ecosystems. Welcome to the place the Romans dubbed Monsfragorum: the fractured mountain

In our last post about Cáceres we introduced you to Extremadura, a beautiful region that border with Portugal. Here we find one of the world meccas for birdwatching, the Monfragüe National Park, declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2003.

Source – Turismo de Monfragüe

Crossed by two rivers – Tagus and Tiétar, Las Dehesas de Monfragüe is the largest and best preserved stretch of Mediterranean mountain landscape in the world. Its wild mountains of oak and Mediterranean forest and streams provide a home for the park’s diverse flora and fauna.

Source – Turismo de Extremadura

Extremadura and conservation of bird species

The importance of Extremadura region for conservation of bird species in Europe is worth noting. With the aim to ensure conservation, the Autonomous Government of Extremadura has designated 71 Special Protection Zones for birds (SPA). These areas form the most extensive network of the Iberian Peninsula and currently represents over 26% of the region’s territory.

El Salto del Gitano – the perfect birding spot

Many of Extremadura’s mountain ranges are topped by quartzite inaccessible rocks.  The security these rocks provide and the barrier created by the dense vegetation of the mountain slopes lead certain bird species to choose them for nesting purposes. Among the typical nesting birds are many threatened species of birds of prey.

Source – Turismo de Extremaduraa

The black vulture is one of the stars of the show at Monfragüe but there is also a significant population of Spanish Imperial eagles. The best place to see them is from the park’s most famous rocky viewpoint: Mirador del Salto del Gitano.  From this 300m high cliff over Tagus River, birders can spot the Spanish Imperial eagle, the Egyptian vulture, the Griffon vulture and the black stork, among other birds.

Source – Turismo de Extremaduraa

When to come to Monfragüe N.P. for birding

Extremadura enjoys a continental weather with damp winters and hot summer.  In summer time, temperature during the day does not go down even after the sun sets, so it is normally hot. Winters are mild and only a small portion of the region freezes.

To see black kite, booted eagle, white-rumped swift, roller, subalpine warbler, black Stork, and red-rumped swallow, you should come in summer. Keep in mind July and August) could be very very hot, so best day time for birding are the hours near the sunrise or sunset.

On the other hand, if you wish to see the Spanish Imperial Eagle, as well as most bird species, we suggest you come in spring, from March to May months. Spring and autumn months are also fantastic periods to enjoy the beautiful colours of Monfragüe Park landscapes and surrounding areas.

Source – Turismo de Extremadura

Routes around the park

  • You can explore Monfragüe using its good self-guided hiking routes (Yellow, Green and Red). This is the option most visitors choose.
  • If you prefer to go by car, there are two routes with stops at main viewpoints.
  • More into organised guided tours? The park offers them.
  • Looking for a more special route? Upon prior permission, you can take bike routes or horse riding routes along the edges of the park.
Source – Turismo de Monfragüe

However you decide to visit it, you will enjoy discovering one of Europe’s best birding paradises.  Would you like to know more? Contact us, we will be glad to assist you.

info@across-spain.es

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Meetings – Incentives – Conferences – Exhibitions. Spain has a handful number of popular MICE destinations: Barcelona, Madrid, Palma, Sevilla … but, what about less internationally known spots but that could be ideal for most type of events?

Let us introduce you to Cáceres, situated in Extremadura region, 320km south-east Madrid, half way from Spain’s capital and Lisbon. With a privileged enclave, the city and its region are rich in landscapes, leisure, historical heritage, cultural legacy and excellent quality gastronomy.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura – https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/index.html

The city

With a population of 96.000 inhabitants, Cáceres will make you feel like a time traveller as you walk along any of its narrow cobbled streets. Its monumental ensemble was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1986 and it is considered one of the prettiest historic town centres of Spain.
Its Moorish walls enclose and preserve the second biggest water cistern in the world, a Jewish quarter, Roman remains and mansions, Renaissance palaces and churches crowned by stork nests.

Cáceres counts with 4-5 hotels with a total of 665 rooms and conference facilities for up to 1200 delegates, a congress centre and a few special venues to host any event.

Interested in reading more about it? Check:
https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/explora/Caceres-00002/

What to do & see

A MICE experience in this region will allow you to discover birds in natural habitats of great beauty, practice water sports at an inlands freshwater beach, admire pasturelands of oaks or get introduced to stargazing. Of course, nobody should leave Extremadura without enjoying its fantastic gastronomy: best Iberian ham, with 10 designations, is produced there but also excellent local cheese, olive oil, wine and honey will remain as great memories.

Culture & History

Extremadura is history and legend, a region with a well-preserved heritage and with corners of great beauty. Three sites are declared World Heritage by UNESCO: the monumental ensemble of Cáceres, the archaeological ensemble of Mérida, and the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe. Magical enclaves of unusual beauty such as the Via de la Plata (Silver Route), the Alcántara Bridge or the city of Trujillo complete its rich heritage.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura – https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/explora/Merida-00001/

Nature & Sports

Extremadura has over 60 protected natural spaces and 1,500km2 of fresh water resources where to enjoy nature and practice sports. Birdwatching, stargazing, geotourism, trekking … and more can be practiced in one region.

Birdwatching: one hour drive north-east Cáceres, the Monfragüe National Park is the place to discover ornithology and Mediterranean flora.
Declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, it is the largest and best preserved stretch of Mediterranean mountain landscape in the world. Its wild mountains of oak and Mediterranean forest and streams provide a home for the park’s diverse flora and fauna.
Salto del Gitano offers the chance to admire storks, vultures and imperial eagles. Deer, lynx, wildcats, snakes, tortoises … are just some other spices living in this area.
This 300m cliff rearing up over Tagus river it is a must among park routes.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura – https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/explora/Monfraguee-National-Park/

Stargazing: Monfragüe, Algueva and Southern mountain range have been certified as Starlight Destinations. Low level of pollution, good weather, cloudless days and spectacular locations make the region a paradise for stargazers. The offer of accommodation, activity companies and professionals that provide stargaze-related services makes it possible to organise unforgettable astrotourism programs.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura –
https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/ven-a-extremadura/Astrotourism/

Sports: Extremadura is a paradise for outdoor sports. Trekking, biking, horse-riding, river sports, kayaking, sailing, fishing in lake reservoirs … Extremely beautiful hiking tracks and routes among oak and chestnut tree forests, mountain bike trails, protected nature areas along Tagus river … offer the perfect and unique scenario that will take you long to forget.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura –
https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/ven-a-extremadura/Live-out-the-nature-experience/

Gastronomy & Flavours

Iberian ham is perhaps one of the most famous products of Spain and it is in Extremadura where one of the best cured ham is produced. Iberian pigs are used to running kilometres a day across the vast pasture lands (dehesas) in search of acorns, which gives their meat a singular texture, fragrance and fragrance.
Goat and sheep cheeses are also famous and important, actually used as currency in Middle Ages. When it comes to desserts, Extremadura is the first producer of cherries in Spain and the holder of “Cereza del Jerte” D.O. Plums and special sweet pastries and desserts are also worth a try.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura –
https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/ven-a-extremadura/Extremadura-Gourmet-Gastronomia/

And, of course, we shall not forget wines and olive oil. Mostly produced in the area of Badajoz, a wide range of red, white, rosé and cava wines will be the perfect complement to any meal. You will be able to enjoy these products at any of the excellent restaurants of the area – why not at 2 Michelin-starred Atrio Restaurant?

Would you like to receive more detailed information about this inspiring destination? Let us know, we will be glad to assist you.

info@across-spain.es

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Not even 2 hour motorway drive south Barcelona airport, on the Mediterranean coast, we find Ebro’s Delta, one of the most famous river deltas in Europe, a wetland location containing 320 sq. km. of Natural Park. The delta hosts a wide variety of aquatic environments and a wide range of different habitats that provide micro habitats for a huge abundance and variety of birdlife, and it is key breeding site for many rare species of birds. Most recent survey has revealed over 300 species of birds that are either resident or migratory to the Ebro Delta.

This nature reserve, declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and full of contrasts, is an ideal setting to get away from crowds and stress of big cities: wild beaches of large dune fields, spaces where there are plains and salt mirages and extensive rice fields. Photography lovers will also discover a spot where the beauty of a sunset with the stylized shadow of a group of flamingos is worthy of the most demanding camera objectives.

Why are there so many great birds in the Ebro delta?

The answer has a lot to do with the range of habitats available: ricefields, saltpans, muddy bays, sand dunes and spits, freshwater lagoons and reedbeds, riverside woodland and open sea.

The delta is the habitat of 7 species of gull and 9 species of tern. Here we find as well the world’s largest Audouin’s gull breeding colony, one of the essential concentrations of common reed bunting, and the Iberian Peninsula’s second largest colony of flamingos and glossy ibis.

In order to perform best possible experience, the park has bird-watching routes equipped with walkways, lookouts and information panels and expert guides to accompany you.

South Itinerary

A full day route starting in the village of Poblenou del Delta and that includes spots as Sant Antoni saltpans, Saltpans de la Trinitat, La Tancada, Erms de la Tancada and Gola del Migjorn.

First observation spot will be the tower with views over l’Encanyissada lagoon, from where species such as Little Bittern, Purple Gallinule, Red Crested Pochard, Caspian Tern, Black-winged Stilt, Marsh Harrier, Greater Flamingo, Fan-tailed Warbler and Great Reed Warbler can be spotted. Continue towards the coast, stopping at the Sant Antoni saltpans, a very interesting spot for gulls, terns and waders.  

Head now to the beach and follow the sandy track that leads down the Trabucador to the saltpans of la Trinitat. On the shores of the bay a good variety of waders, gulls and terns may be seen and in the winter months the waters of the bay are a prime site for divers, Red-breasted Merganser, Black-necked Grebe and the occasional Common or Velvet Scoter.

Back to La Tancada lagoon. This is an interesting site for ducks, including Red Crested Pochard and Garganey. Ospreys fly over on quite a regular basis.

Between here and L’Eucaliptus resort are the Erms de la Tancada, an area of saltings, rough pasture with bushes and channels which is ideal for migrant birds in the spring and autumn, with a huge potential for producing pleasant surprises.

Route continues the way to Illa de Buda and the Gola de Migjorn along a road that past vast extensions of rice fields. An observation tower offers views over the Illa de Buda with its ricefields, saltings, pools and lagoons and the reedbeds and marshy areas of the Alfacada, as well as the open sea. This area is one of the best in the whole of the delta for seeing a great diversity of birds in a short space of time.

Finally, make the short drive to the beach for a seawatch, at what is said to be the best spot in the delta for seeing Gannet, Great Skua, Arctic Skua, Razorbill, Balearic and Levantine Shearwaters, sea duck, gulls (including Mediterranean Gull), terns and waders, depending on the time of year.

North Itinerary

A day long itinerary starts with an observation tower overlooking the southern tip of the Canal Vell lagoon. Among other birds, Night Herons can be seen here, as well as Greater Flamingo, Great White Egret, Bittern (on migration) and a variety of ducks.

Continue to Riumar, more precisely to Lo Garxal, a shallow lagoon with usually abundant terns and waders. Water Rails breed in the reedy areas along the southern edge while the inhabitants of the dune slacks include Lesser Short-toed Larks and Collared Pratincoles.

Platja de la Marquesa beach is the spot for conducting a seawatch in the hope of seeing skuas, shearwaters, seaduck and other seabirds according to the season. In the winter months Mediterranean Gulls pass by in their hundreds, as do Black Terns in late summer.

From here a track leads to the Fangar lighthouse. The huge, flat sandy area past the dunes is a major breeding area for terns and Kentish Plover, while on the bay side there will often be large numbers of waders, terns, gulls and ducks.

The last port of call is the southern shore of the bay, or port, of the Fangar. From the edge of the bay it is possible to follow the shoreline for approximately 4 kilometres. If possible avoid the time around high tide, when most of the birds, especially the waders, are forced elsewhere. Photography lovers should not miss this area: it can be excellent for close up views of waders, flamingos, terns and gulls, especially in the afternoon when the sun is behind you.

Would you like to know more about birdwatching options this nature reserve has to offer? Please, let us know, we will be glad to assist you! info@across-spain.es       

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Choose from any of our existing Group Tours & Packages, carefully developed itineraries at pricings for all budgets, large or small. Set your own dates, decide if you travel with family, friends or work colleagues. Everything’s included: carefully selected hotels, transfers, guided touring, entrance fees, intercity transportation, meals… Our coordinators will adjust the trip to fit your needs and interests and operate your tour, plus 24/7 emergency line will be at your disposal.

Choose from any of our existing Group Tours & Packages, carefully developed itineraries at pricings for all budgets, large or small. Set your own dates, decide if you travel with family, friends or work colleagues. Everything’s included: carefully selected hotels, transfers, guided touring, entrance fees, intercity transportation, meals… Our coordinators will adjust the trip to fit your needs and interests and operate your tour, plus 24/7 emergency line will be at your disposal.

Across Spain brings together destinations in up to 3 countries: Spain, Portugal and Morocco and offers a broad range of itineraries of various length. Let us introduce a as sample programme.

Our journey will start in Barcelona, a city with a wide range of original leisure options, where we will spend 2 nights. Overlooking the Mediterranean sea and famous for Gaudí and his Art Noveau architecture, it is one of Europe’s trendiest cities. Discover a world of culture, fashion and cuisine, where creativity and design is combined with respect and care for local traditions. Enjoy the charm of the old town and its Gothic Quarters and La Rambla; visit amazing Modernist buildings as Sagrada Familia and Park Güell; walk around the seaside  avant-garde modern neighbourhoods; stroll around major shopping avenues with glamour and major brands or just walk around popular commercial streets with affordable options and traditional shops. And do not leave without having taken a break at some of its cafés and restaurants.

Source: spain.info

On day two, we will travel to one of the major surrounding sights, Montserrat,  an unusually-shaped mountain made from huge slabs of grey rocks. At the top of the massif stands a sanctuary dedicated to Virgin of Montserrat, the patron saint of Catalonia. This nature reservation offers different hiking itineraries and guided visits.

Source: spain.info

Let’s board on our fully equipped bus and travel to Spain’s capital city, Madrid. It take about 7 hours to reach destination so itinerary includes a short lunch stop in Zaragoza to admire its famous Basilica del Pilar. We will reach Madrid late afternoon, check in and offer you a free evening or dinner on request.

Let’s discover this cheerful and vibrant city after breakfast. Famous museums, busy streets with wide range of shopping options, great traditional, modern and world gastronomy and an unbeatable nightlife. We will walk around the charming historic spots in old Madrid centre, plenty of traditional family-run century-old bars where people meet up for a drink. We will offer you the possibility to visit great art museums and historical buildings: Prado Museum, the stunning Royal Palace, the Plaza Mayor with 400 years of history, the buzzing Puerta del Sol, the famous Gran Vía full of shops … And remember, Madrid also means relaxing in enormous parks such El Retiro, so take the chance and enjoy a promenade in the city centre green lung.

Source: spain.info

There are several sights outside Madrid, within easy reach for a day trip. One of clients’ favourites is Toledo, the “city of the three cultures” and one of the largest heritage sites in Europe, where you can see a Gothic cathedral, a 10th century mosque and two synagogues in the space of just few metres. Once an Imperial City, our guides will make sure visitors see its views, visit the Alcázar, walk around its winding streets and enjoy its local gastronomy.

Source: spain.info

Next destination is Seville. South Spain’s most charming and monumental city will leave you great memories. La Giralda Tower, the Cathedral and the Real Alcázar fortress are its best known sights but Seville is more than just fantastic monuments. Seville is a city of lively streets and courtyards of orange trees and neighbourhoods as Triana with countless tapas outings; it is a city of large open spaces as the huge Plaza de España and María Luisa Park; it is a lively night-life place where locals go out to eat “pescaíto” (fish) and drink a cold beer or a manzanilla sweet wine. End the evening with Spanish tradition at a flamenco show “tablao” and your day will be complete.

Source: spain.info

After breakfast we will take the bus and leave Spain to travel to Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city. A historical site full of authenticity where old customs and ancient history intermix with cultural entertainment and high-tech innovation. A sight-seeing will show you around its main avenues till Rossio square, the heart of Lisbon. Alfama district deserves a walk: the oldest and most picturesque quarter, known by its step streets and yellow trams and topped by a castle with stunning views. End with a tour to Betlem Tower and Monastery of Los Jeronimos.


When it comes to culture and tradition, a Fado music evening is a must. If you are a foodie do not miss its best restaurants, which offer a cuisine dedicated to creating over a thousand ways to cook the beloved “bacalhau” (salted cod).

After a relaxing evening and overnight in Lisbon, it is time to discover the surroundings. Our day trip will take you to Sintra & Cascais. Located 30km from Lisbon, Sintra is a place awarded by UNESCO with World Heritage Site status, with remarkable monuments as the Town Palace, the Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle. Our day-tour continues to the former fisherman village of Cascais, where you will enjoy a picturesque architecture. Nowadays Cascais is very lively and cosmopolitan town that still preserves a great deal of its earlier aristocratic atmosphere. A stroll through its streets is particularly recommended, where you can find shops of the highest quality or just relax at one of the many outdoors cafés.

A special mention is reserved for the local cuisine, especially the fresh fish and shellfish dishes, which can be enjoyed in the region’s many restaurants.

Our sample trip comes to an end in Portugal. Enjoy a last evening in Lisbon and take your flight home next day.

This is just one of our various ready-made programmes. Ask us about more options, let us know your main interests and preferred destinations, we will select a sample of itineraries and adapt them to your needs if required. Remember you can extend your stay in Morocco (Fez, Marrakech, Rabat are waiting for you), in Spain (Segovia, Valencia, Córdoba, Granada, Málaga …) and in Portugal (do not miss Porto, one of the top European destinations at the moment).

Please, drop us an e-mail and we will be glad to assist you:

info@across-spain.es

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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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