The Paths of Sefarad
Network of Jewish Quarters in Spain
A journey in time through Jewish Spain
For many centuries, until 1492, the Iberian Peninsula was a mosaic, a melting pot of peoples, cultures and religions. The presence until this time of Jewish communities embellished the urban geography of Spain. These communities developed their own culture, practised their customs and their religion and went about their social life in close contact with both Christian and Arab communities. The wealth left by this reality is a common inheritance, a collective heritage of many of Spain´s peoples. The Routes of Sefarad are a suggested journey through the most notable Jewish quarters.
The Network of Jewish quarters in Spain offers the traveller an abundance of information. We can highlight: Cáceres. In the oldest section of this proud monumental site, a World Heritage Site, the Old Jewish quarter stands out because of its curled, irregular layout which combines long steep streets with 220 small squares and recondite places. Córdoba. The group of beautiful streets which form the Jewish quarter envelop the traveller in their peculiar Andalusian charm. A visit to the small synagogue, the cool interior courtyards, the statue of Maimónides and the Calahorra Gate makes for an unforgettable experience. Girona. A mysterious enclave of great prestige, this beautifully preserved Jewish quarter reflects the essence of Jewish life. With the bustling Força street which forms its axis, and such emblematic narrow streets as Cúndaro and Sat Llorenç, which is home to the Centro Bonastruc ça Porta. Hervás (Cáceres). Rustic and extremely original, a jewel of both plain and more colourful architectural findings, which can be seen in the arrangement of some houses built with poor materials from the humble River Ambroz itself which almost laps at the rocky edges of this Jewish quarter of Extremedura. Oviedo. The capital of the Principality of Asturias was a significant Jewish enclave during the Middle Ages. It had a large synagogue which was located inside the beautiful historic quarter, within the city walls and around which the Jews moved freely. Ribadavia (Ourense). Set apart by its solid and well preserved limestone from the Galician region, the personal Jewish quarter takes on its best appearance during the celebration of the Festival of History, which is held in July and relates the life and experiences of Jewish converts. Segovia. This city of Castilla-Leon, a World Heritage Site, has a valuable restored Jewish quarter which begins with a visit to the former synagogue, today the church of Corpus Christi, and can be rounded off with a look at the remains of the Jewish cemetery. Toledo. The whole mazy urban network of the Jewish quarter of Toledo reflects the honour, with its two emblematic synagogues of El Tránsito and Saint Mary the White, of the prestige which converted Toledo into an essential centre of western Judaism. Tortosa (Tarragona). Prestigious bankers, traders and men of letters lived in the Catalan Jewish quarter, next to the mouth of the Ebro. It was then a site of great confluence which today still seduces the visitor with the colourful maritime feel of its streets, cross-streets and small squares. Tudela (Navarre). The cradle of the esteemed traveller Benjamín de Tudela, the Jewish quarter of Tudela was an outstanding centre in Medieval Navarre . It still retains its chaotic layout and the unquestionable Hebrew style of cramped streets, lamp posts and winding urban arrangement.
This route has been designated a Major Cultural Route by the Council of Europe.
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