The heritage and passage of the Jews in Spain before their expulsion in 1492 survive in some twenty towns, where their traces can be traced in many neighborhoods of medieval origin.

Jewish communities, cultured and prosperous, were seen as a threat in many kingdoms at the time. In Spain, Muslims and Christians became more isolated until their final expulsion in the 15th century, when other Jewish neighborhoods began to be created in Europe and the Mediterranean. Today many cities display that heritage on cultural routes that visit synagogues, museums and cemeteries. The Network of Jewish Quarters of Spain reports enclaves with a Sephardic legacy.

Jewish community of Girona

La  Pujada de Sant Domenec, in the  call  (from the Latin  callis , set of narrow streets) of Girona, is one of the most beautiful corners of its Jewish quarter. Active between the 10th and 15th centuries, it hosted the second largest Jewish community in Catalonia, after that of Barcelona. Despite the fact that the Jews were expelled from the old quarter of the city centuries ago, its layout and the network of steep alleys still reminds us of its appearance in the Middle Ages. During its moment of splendor,  the Jewish quarter had a butcher shop, a fishmonger, an oven, workshops for tailors, shoemakers, weavers, barbers, doctors’ and astrologers’ offices, in addition to a renowned cabalistic school and several synagogues. Today the  Center Bonastruc ca Porta,  headquarters of the Museum of the History of the Jews of Girona, is located on the site of one of them.

Church of San Vicente, Avila

The origins of the church of San Vicente connect the history of the city with the Jewish presence. Legend has it that, after being bitten by a poisonous snake, the victim, a Jew, promised God to convert to Christianity if he managed to get cured. As he was saved, he himself built the primitive temple that would become this church. Despite the fact that the architectural testimonies that remain standing in the Jewish quarter of Avila are scarce, you can still walk streets such as Reyes Católicos, where there were numerous Jewish shops and the Belfarad synagogue, or the old street of los Zapateros. –today Vallespin– in reference to one of the most widespread trades among the Sephardic community.

Jewish Quarter of Plasencia

Those from Caceres call it “the pearl of Jerte”. And it is enough to see where it is located, in a landscape of cherry trees next to the river, to see that it is not an exaggeration. But the nearby Valle del Jerte must not be allowed to take away from the monumental beauty of Plasencia, where the traces of the old Jewish quarters are still visible. And it is that the Sephardim have been present in the city since shortly after Alfonso VIII of Castilla endowed it with a Charter to facilitate the repopulation of the area. It lived its golden age in the 12th century, when the Jews mainly occupied the streets of Trujillo and Zapateria and also in the Plaza Mayor. Part of that atmosphere is felt even today walking the winding streets. But, the jewel of the Jewish quarter of Plasencia is the Jewish cemetery. 

Aljama de Santa Cruz, Seville

Most historians agree that Seville’s Jewish quarter is possibly one of the oldest in the Iberian Peninsula. The neighborhood lived its heyday in the 13th century and had three synagogues, the current churches of Santa Maria la Blanca, San Bartolome and another located in what is now the Plaza de la Santa Cruz. One of the most iconic streets in the Santa Cruz neighborhood is Calle de la Juderia, where you can see the arch and the tower that were part of the gate that connected the Alcazar with the Jewish quarter.

Tarazona County

The old synagogue, Calle Juderia, the Casa de la Carniceria and the cemetery are some of the testimonies distributed between the old and new Jewish quarters of the Zaragoza town of Tarazona. Its old almaja has a long history that, due to its isolation caused by the complicated orography, has been preserved in very good condition. However, what most attracts attention are the spectacular hanging houses. Located on the northern limit of the old Jewish quarter, they were built on the same wall and were occupied by lineages of the lower nobility.   

Juderia de Sagunto

The Valencian coast of Sagunto is famous for its summer atmosphere, but a little further inland is the old town, an open-air museum that concentrates more than 2,000 million years of history, from Roman times. Precisely in Roman Sagunto there was already a Jewish presence, as shown by two sheets of lead in which the name of God –Iao– is read in Hebrew characters. They were found in the castle and would be the oldest proof of the existence of a Jewish community in Spain. The iconic Puerta de la Sangre (popularly, Portalet de la Juderia) is the entrance to the old Jewish quarter. It is worth strolling through this beautiful setting of narrow streets, squares, whitewashed houses and pointed windows. The most important building is the casa de la aljama, also known as Casa de los Berenguer. During part of the Middle Ages this was the residence of the clavario de la aljama, the economic manager of the community. Next to it was the synagogue, now disappeared.

Juderia de Córdoba

In Cordoba in the 10th century, the Jewish culture lived its Golden Age on the Peninsula. In addition to being the birthplace of the renowned Jewish physician and philosopher Maimonides, Cordoba’s Jewish quarter has its origins in the days of the Roman Empire, although its moment of greatest splendor took place during the Muslim domination. After the Christian conquest of the city, the Jews settled near the Alcazar. The narrow streets and interior patios are two characteristic elements of the neighborhood where you can also visit the Casa de Sefarad, the Casa del Judio, a synagogue, the street of the Jews or the cemetery. A set that perfectly reconstructs the life and history of the Jewish community in Cordoba.

Walled Jewish quarter of Caceres

The Jewish presence in the city of Extremadura goes back to the Muslim domination, around the 13th century. The Jewish quarter is located within the walls of the historic center, declared a World Heritage Site, next to the Plaza Mayor. The old main synagogue is today the current hermitage of San Antonio, and the neighborhood of the same name constituted the old aljama, characterized by the steep slopes of its narrow streets.

Trascorrales Square, Oviedo

The abundance of documents that describe the life of the Jewish community in the Asturian capital compensates for the scarcity of architectural testimonies that have come down to us today. One of these key documents are the Ordinances , from 1274, which forced the Jews to live within the limits of the Socastiello neighborhood, whose narrow streets are the best witness. In the Plaza de Trascorrales, in the Old City, is the building of the fishmongers, probably related to the Jews, and the old butcher shop, where the Jewish community obtained  kosher meat.

The TUI court

It is difficult to find a written record of the Jews in Tui before the 15th century, but historians believe that despite this, their presence dates back much earlier, to the 13th century. Even then, the original nucleus of a Jewish quarter was in the vicinity of the synagogue, on Oliveira street -currently Las Monjas street- with which it would share a fairly common name in Portuguese Jewish quarters, and later on the nearby Canicouba street, which is the current Bishop Castanon. These two streets keep their medieval layout and charm largely intact. There are two elements of great importance. The first is a menorah engraved on one of the stones in the cloister of the cathedral that serves as proof of the presence of the Jewish community already in the 13th century. The second, the sambenitos that are in the cathedral.

Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca, Toledo

What is considered the old Greater Synagogue of Toledo is one of the greatest symbols of the Jewish presence in the famous city of the Three Cultures. It is believed that it was built in the 12th century, during the reign of Alfonso VIII, with a strong influence of Nasrid art. The Jewish presence in Toledo dates back, at least, to the Visigothic period, and at its peak it housed up to ten synagogues. Currently, it occupies almost 10% of the urban space and the best way to discover it is to get lost in its intricate maze of streets.

Santa Maria Cathedral, Tudela

The old Jewish quarter and the new Jewish quarter of Tudela are testimony to the long Jewish presence in this Navarrese municipality , which began in the 9th century. Founded in the year 802, Muslims, Jews and Mozarabs lived together for more than 400 years, giving the city a cultural mix reflected in its monuments and in the layout of its twisted streets, passageways, walls and watchtowers. Around the Cathedral of Santa Maria there were two Jewish quarters and a Moreria. In addition to several synagogues, a Jewish cemetery has recently been located. 

Lucena, the pearl of Sepharad

Between the 9th and 12th centuries, Lucena, in Cordoba , was home to one of the most prosperous Jewish communities, for which reason its enclave was known as the Pearl of Sepharad. The place came to house a famous academy of Talmudic studies where the Talmud was studied, a book that contains the tradition, doctrines, ceremonies and precepts of the Jewish religion, and which was a meeting point for intellectuals, philosophers, poets and doctors of the epoch. The famous Jehuda ha Levi and even Maimonides, among other scholars and rabbis, lived here. Lucena also has the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, of which more than 300 graves were documented in 2006.

Hervas County

The extreme village of Hervas, where the Sephardim introduced viticulture, has one of the best preserved medieval aljamas in Spain. In the 13th century, the town welcomed Jews who fled from the south of the Peninsula where they were persecuted. His presence brought prosperity to the town, especially thanks to the cultivation of the vine. Their houses had the cellar and stable on the ground floor, the rooms on the first floor, and the barn and kitchen upstairs. Today, a visit to this Cáceres town in the Ambroz river valley allows us to evoke the physiognomy of the old Jewish quarters, thanks to the preservation of its labyrinth of cobbled streets and houses with chestnut timber frames,that accompany the visit until it culminates in the Renaissance church of Santa Maria de Aguas Vivas.

Xuderia of Ribadavia

Located next to the banks of the Avia river, the Jewish quarter of this Galician municipality was formed around the 12th and 13th centuries. Most of its inhabitants were merchants, whose businesses were installed in the basement of the houses to protect the products from the heat and thus ensure a better conservation of the same. The most characteristic elements that are still preserved in this xuderia are the long and narrow streets, as well as the porticoed squares and patios surrounded by facades.

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