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The Paths of Sepharad. The European Routes of Jewish Heritage

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  • Tránsito Synagogue, Toledo © Turespaña

    Tránsito Synagogue, Toledo © Turespaña

  • Jewish Quarter, Cordoba © Turespaña

    Jewish Quarter, Cordoba © Turespaña

  • View of the historic centre of Cáceres © Turespaña

    View of the historic centre of Cáceres © Turespaña

  

Spain’s Sephardic legacy

For centuries, Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together in harmony in Spanish cities, pursuing their cultures, customs and religions. The Paths of Sepharad route will show you the Sephardic historic-artistic legacy in Spain. This journey will take you down the intricate streets of the Jewish quarters, show you museums about their history, and reveal ancient synagogues and sites associated with these Jewish communities
 

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The cities on this route, which at one time had prosperous Jewish populations, also have important monumental sites. They also offer programmes, throughout the year, of activities associated with Sephardic culture (festivals, exhibitions, guided tours, gastronomic events, etc.). The best way to avoid missing anything is to ask at the tourist offices and information centres before starting your visit.

Three of the points on the route are close to Madrid. They areToledo, Segovia and Ávila. The historic quarters of all of these cities are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Jewish Quarter in Toledo (the famous “city of three cultures”) will surprise you with the Mudejar art in its Santa María la Blanca and Tránsito Synagogues. This last synagogue houses the Sephardic Museum, and very close by you can visit the Jew’s House, with its courtyard decorated with plasterwork. In Segovia, you should visit the Jewish Quarter Learning Centre, the old Main Synagogue in Corpus Christi Church and the Jewish butcher’s shop, which now houses Segovia Museum. In Ávila, you should see the rabbi’s house (Reyes Católicos Street) and Don Samuel Synagogue (Plaza del Pocillo Square), converted respectively into a guesthouse and a dwelling.

There are three more places to stop at in the Extremadura region: Hervás, Plasencia and Cáceres. The Jewish quarter in Hervás is a charming maze of narrow streets that has been declared a Historic Site. In the Jewish quarter in Plasencia you should visit the Parador Hotel and the Carvajal Palace, both of which are on the sites of old synagogues. In Cáceres city’s monumental area, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, a place not to miss is the 16th century La Isla Palace. It is in the new Jewish quarter and conserves elements of the synagogue over which it was built.

There are two more cities to be seen as the route goes through Andalusia: Cordoba and Jaén. In the first of these, which is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites, very close to the Cathedral-Mosque you will find the beautiful streets of the Jewish Quarter. Its Synagogue is a fine example of Mudejar delicacy, and right opposite it the Sephardic House is a 14th century building that recreates a Cordoban Jewish ambience. In Jaén’s Jewish quarter you can see San Andrés Church, the structure of which clearly evokes its past as a synagogue, and the sculpture of the “menorah” (a candelabra with seven arms), which is a tribute to the diaspora of Sephardic Jews.

The stopping places in Catalonia are Barcelona, Girona, Besalú and Tortosa. In the first of these, the Barcelona City History Museum and the Call Visitor Centre (“call” was the Catalonian name for the Jewish quarter) are essential places to visit if you wish to learn about the Jewish community that lived in the city and the vestiges of their presence. On the walk around the medieval Jewish quarter in Girona, you should visit the Jewish History Museum and the Nahmanides Institute for Jewish Studies. In Besalú you can see the only example of Jewish baths to be found in Spain to date. In Tortosa you will find the labyrinthine structure of the Jewish quarter almost intact, as well as the Jews’ Gate, one of its original entranceways.

There are four more stopping points in the provinces of Zaragoza, La Rioja and Navarre: Tarazona,Calahorra,Tudela and Estella. In Tarazona do not miss the curious hanging houses, built over the old Jewish quarter, and the exhibition at the Moshé de Portella Visitor Centre. In Calahorra the old Torah is kept in the Diocesan Museum, but the synagogue is to be found in what is now San Francisco Church.The stone and brick houses of the Jewish quarter in Tudela are a reminder of the illustrious Jews who lived here. Estella, an important stopping place on the Way of Saint James, has also recovered part of its Sephardic heritage, including the walls of the New Jewish Quarter.

There are still a few more places to visit. First, the historic city of León, where the old Jewish quarter is located in the popular Barrio Húmedo district. Then on to Oviedo (in Plaza Porlier Square there is a map of what were the main Sephardic sites). In Galicia, there are Jewish quarters in Monforte de Lemos and Ribadavia, where the History Festival is held every August, recreating a medieval Jewish atmosphere. Finally, in Palma de Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands, the Sephardic past can be seen in the streets of Sol, Escoles and Temple.
 

 

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What to see on the route See more

What to do

Cycle touring

Cycle touring
Hiking

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Calendar See more

Exterior of León cathedral

Sep 21, 2017 to Nov 3, 2017

Festival

León Cathedral - León
León Cathedral International Organ Festival

The exhibition in Barcelona

Oct 11, 2017 to Jan 21, 2018

Exhibition

Fundación MAPFRE Casa Garriga Nogués Exhibition Hall - Barcelona
Exhibition: Hell according to Rodin

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Nov 13, 2017 to Nov 19, 2017

Festival

Contemporary Culture Centre (CCCB) - Barcelona
La Alternativa. Barcelona Independent Film Festival

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Dec 6, 2017 to Dec 9, 2017

León - León
Purple Weekend Festival

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