Spain’s Largest Jewish Community
The largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is renowned for the stunning architecture of Antoni Gaudi. Barcelona is the sun-filled capital of Catalonia, and one of the most popular destinations in Europe. It is full of art, culture, and history, and is a must-see destination for travelers who crave the energy and bustle of a big city on the sea. The old Gothic Quarter has been maintained as a perfect example of an old city, offering a variety of architectural and historic streets, palaces, and churches dating from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Take a journey through time amidst this tangle of alleyways surrounding City Hall Square, King Square and Cathedral Square. In the Ribera district we will visit the beautiful Church of Santa Maria del Mar, which was built privately by merchants, sailors and shipbuilders who lived in the district.
Lesser known, but no less intriguing, is the city’s Jewish history. The flourishing Medieval community of Barcelona was gradually expelled throughout the 14th century, process culminating in the Spanish expulsion of 1492. For 500 years there were no Jews in the city, until the early 20th century when a steady influx of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews moved from North Africa and Eastern Europe. Today, an estimate of 3,500 Jewish residents lives in Barcelona, making it the largest concentration of Jews in Spain. There are four synagogues that serve the community, an old age house, a day school and a Chabad house. Every year Barcelona is host to a Jewish film festival.
In the city’s Jewish Quarter, El Call, named from the Hebrew kahal, meaning “community” or “congregation,” we will visit the Sinagoga Mayor, thought to be the oldest synagogue in Europe. We will also discover gravestones dating back to the 10th century from the Jewish cemetery on Montjuic (Jewish mountain). The ancient cemetery is home to the last remains of the most notable members of the pre-expulsion Spanish community and is officially now a city park. We will conclude our tour along Las Ramblas Boulevard, the most popular street of the city.
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