We encourage you to get to know 22 cities that in the past hosted Jewish communities and whose footprints span more than 1,000 years. Come and travel the Paths of Sefarad, the name used by the Jews to refer to Spain.Stroll through the narrow streets of ancient Jewish quarters, enter a synagogue or visit museums that aim to preserve this legacy. In short, travel back through time. Because travelling to any of these cities is an experience that combines history, art, traditions and a very unique gastronomy.
The Paths of Sefarad
Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together for centuries and, until 1492, in a substantial amount of Spanish towns, giving rise to different traditions and cultural and religious expressions that came into contact with each other.
Come and discover our Sephardic heritage and find out how crafts, trade, science and poetry flourished. Keep in mind that there is also the Sefarad Card, with which you can benefit from discounts and promotions on your purchases.
Ávila (Ávila, Castile and León). In this Castilian city you will be able to walk through the winding streets of the old Jewish quarter, with the charm of the low houses. Several archives have made it possible to identify where their synagogues, the rabbi’s house, the cemetery, their shops or their tanneries were. In the garden of Moshes de León, tribute is paid to the universal author of the Sefer ha-Zohar, who unravelled the mysteries of the Kabbalah. Barcelona (Barcelona, Catalonia). It is worth taking a walk through its Gothic quarter, where the old Jewish quarter was located, formed by a network of narrow streets and where part of the old synagogue is still preserved. In this area you will also find the Call Visitor Centre (run by the Barcelona History Museum), which preserves objects from the 13th and 14th centuries and organises guided tours, tastings of Catalan-Jewish cuisine, conferences... Did you know that Montjuïc means “mountain of the Jews” and that it was used as a Jewish cemetery?
Béjar (Salamanca, Castile and Leon). Its old Jewish quarter had a synagogue, school, baths, butcher’s shop, oven, hospital and cemetery. Here lived the prominent doctor Judah Ben Musa and now you can visit the Jewish Museum to learn about this whole legacy. Another curious fact: Did you know that Jews with the surnames Béjar or Bejarano went into exile in 1492 and dispersed throughout the five continents? Cáceres (Cáceres, Extremadura). Walking through its old Jewish quarter means seeing whitewashed houses adjoining the wall adorned with flowers and stone chimneys, a multitude of charming corners or the garden of the Olive grove of the Jewish quarter. In Cáceres the new Jewish quarter also arose with Calle de la Cruz as its main axis and whose synagogue was located where the Palacio de la Isla stands today.
Calahorra (La Rioja). Its Jewish quarter was located in the old acropolis of the Roman Calagurris, it had its own walled enclosure and, curiously, its original houses are still inhabited. Make sure to visit its viewpoints and take note of the names of its streets, which recall the activity of the artisans. In addition, the Cathedral of Calahorra preserves two fragments of a synagogue Torah discovered in 1929. Córdoba (Córdoba, Andalucía). The cluster of beautiful streets that form the Jewish quarter will embrace you with its peculiar Andalusian charm. Visiting the beautiful synagogue – one of the few preserved in Spain –, the frescoed interior courtyards, the statue of Maimonides or the Puerta de Calahorra is an unforgettable experience. The events related to this culture such as the “Sephardic Autumn” or the “International Festival of Sephardic Music” are also of interest.
Estella-Lizarra (Navarre). Although its first Jewish quarter was in the district of Elgacena, it was abandoned centuries ago and it is believed that its old synagogue was in what is now the Church of Santa María Jus del Castillo. As the years went by, the Jewish presence became more important and the new Jewish quarter was created next to the walls of Belmecher Castle. Did you know that the Estella-Lizarra Jewish quarter was the third most important in the Kingdom of Navarre? Today it is worth taking a walk along the lively “Rúa de las Tiendas” and imagining the activity of the old merchants. Hervás (Cáceres, Extremadura). Rustic and very original, you will fall in love with its handicraft shops and its houses traditionally built with adobe and chestnut that have been preserved for centuries and extend to the river Ambroz. Its streets have names such as Rabilero or Sinagoga, and in July the Fiesta de los Conversos is celebrated, a perfect moment to see the neighbours dressed in period costumes or to taste the Sephardic gastronomy.
Jaén (Jaén, Andalusia). This is where the first Spanish Jews are located, and their 12-century legacy can still be seen. The Jewish quarter would have been located between the current streets of San Andrés, Huérfanos, Los Caños-Arroyo de San Pedro and Martínez Molina. It seems that attached to the convent of Santa Clara there was a synagogue and that the Church of San Andrés itself could have been a synagogue rather than a Christian temple. One of the key figures was Hasday ibn Shaprut, promoter of Hispanic-Hebrew poetry and advisor to the Caliphs of Cordoba. León (León, Castile and León). Zapaterías, Platerías, Azabachería... The names of the streets of León will remind you of the trades of the ancient Jewish inhabitants. Traces of this Sephardic past can also be found in passages, cellars or courtyards, such as that of the Jabalquinto Palace. Mosé de León was born in his Jewish quarter, the most important figure in Leonese Jewish thought and author of the “Book of the Zohar”, which is considered to be the main Kabbalistic work. You can also visit the Three Cultures Visitor Centre.
Lorca (Region of Murcia). Archaeological excavations at Lorca Castle have brought to light the Jewish past of this city by revealing that there was a Jewish quarter in the eastern half of the castle. Several houses have been discovered from whose interiors various materials have been recovered which are conserved in the Municipal Archaeological Museum. If you visit the synagogue, you will be able to see, for example, some chandeliers from the Hebrew domestic liturgy, the janukkias, and more than 2,000 glass fragments belonging to some 50 lamps found inside the synagogue. Lucena (Córdoba, Andalusia). The Jewish room of the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum of the Moral Castle, the Church of San Mateo, the Palace of the Counts of Santa Ana, the district of Santiago or the necropolis are some of the places that you could visit in search of the Jewish past of this city known as the “Pearl of Sepharad”. Many poets and sages like Maimonides lived here in the Middle Ages. In fact, Lucena hosted the Academy of Talmudic Studies, a meeting point for intellectuals of the time.
Monforte de Lemos (Lugo, Galicia). In this city there was no exclusively Hebrew neighbourhood, but rather Jews shared spaces with Christian families. All you need to do is walk through its streets and squares and look at their names to see the traces of the old trades of craftsmen and merchants. It is known that there was a synagogue and, even today, it is possible to come across stars of David carved into the stone (for example, in the Tower of Homage) or the houses of the Gaibor, the most relevant of the families of Jews and converts of Monforte. Oviedo (Principality of Asturias). The capital of Asturias was a significant Jewish enclave during the Middle Ages. It had an important synagogue that was located inside the beautiful old town, within the walls of the city through which Jews moved freely. In Plaza Porlier square there is an informative map of the Jewish settlements, which had a border with Plaza Juan XXIII square. In addition, it is believed that the old Jewish cemetery should have been located where the Campoamor Theatre is today.
Plasencia (Cáceres, Extremadura). Its Jewish quarter of “La Mota” was located where today the Palace of the Marquis of Mirabal and the Convent of San Vicente Ferrer can be found. It is known that in the 15th century the Jewish community of Plasencia consisted of around 200 families, and that they had a large synagogue. The old cemetery was located in the Berrocal, one of the few Spanish cemeteries that has been preserved as it was originally. Today you can still see the remains of more than 200 tombs excavated in the rock. Ribadavia (Ourense, Galicia). Its Jewish quarter was formed around the 12th and 13th centuries and its inhabitants excelled in the administration of goods, in craft trades and as wine merchants. A visit to the Sephardic Museum, which contains documents and archaeological remains of all the Galician Jewish communities, is a must. As well as strolling through its streets, it is a good idea to try its traditional Sephardic confectionery and, if possible, to go to its Festa da Istoria (Fiesta of Ribadavia History) at the end of August, which in the heart of the Jewish quarter holds one of the most authentic medieval festivals in Galicia.
Sagunto (Valencia, Valencian Community). The urban layout of its old Jewish quarter is preserved practically in the same way as that given to it by the Sephardim who lived in Sagunto since the first century. A good starting point for a walk could be the "Portalet de la Judería" and then continue along streets such as Antigons, Ramos, Segovia or Sangre Vieja - where the synagogue was. The Jewish remains are preserved for example in the Casa dels Berenguer - with pieces related to the Jewish ritual bath or mikve -or in its visitable Jewish cemetery. Enquire about the guided tours that are organised both day and night. Segovia(Segovia, Castile and Leon). This city has a valuable rehabilitated Jewish Quarter where you can 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.
Tarazona (Zaragoza, Aragón). Discovering the medieval beauty of this city is always a good plan. Its Jewish quarter is formed by two different centres. On the one hand, what used to be the old Jewish quarter can be explored starting from Calle Judería. Next, it is worth seeing the Hanging Houses, where noble families used to reside, or passing by the Rúa Alta where the synagogue is thought to have been. Another curiosity: in the Plaza de los Arcedians square, tents for the celebration of the sukkot or the huts used to be set up for a week, reminiscent of the wandering of the Jewish people. On the other hand, there is the new Jewish quarter, where, for example, the house of the Santafé, who were great Jewish merchants, is preserved. Toledo (Toledo, Castile – La Mancha). The Jews from Toledo were the most important in Spain. Today, the entire urban labyrinth of Toledo’s Jewish quarter honours the prestige that turned Toledo into an essential centre of Western Judaism. We recommend visiting their two emblematic synagogues. On the one hand, El Tránsito, now the Sephardic Museum, where you can investigate a little more about the history of the Jews in Spain. On the other hand, the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, the oldest and inspired by Almohad art. In addition to the synagogues, there is also the Casa del Judío, a house that preserves the traditional rooms.
Tudela (Navarre). The birthplace of the prestigious traveller Benjamín de Tudela, the Jewish quarter of Tudela was an outstanding centre in medieval Navarre and had at least three synagogues in the old Jewish quarter, and two in the new one. As you will see, it retains its layout and the unquestionable Hebrew style of narrow streets as well as adobe and brick houses with Mudejar decoration. Here the Jewish sage Abenezrá was born, creator of the spelling of the number zero. Tui (Pontevedra, Galicia). Would you like to know what some of the most outstanding elements of the Jewish heritage of this city are? Take the Jewish Route to discover the sambenitos (posters that were put up for the Jews to spoil their reputation) which you will find in the Diocesan Museum, the Casa de Solomon with all its rooms adapted to Sephardic life, the Casa dos Capellanes (whose corbels represent Moses and Aaron) or the menorah - seven-armed candelabra - which is preserved in the Gothic cloister of the Cathedral.
All this legacy is also part of the European route of Jewish heritage certified as the “Cultural Itinerary of the Council of Europe”. On this page you will find more detailed information about the Sephardic heritage of each city and all the events organised.