Jewish Path and the Sephardic Heritage in Portugal
The presence of Jews in Portugal tells millennia of history. Its DNA is part of the Portuguese Essence and is present in Culture, Traditions, and the blood of people in Portugal. With its own identity, the Jewish community in Portugal has always been one of the most significant in Europe, in number and social importance. Today, we remember that past and discover in the present how this presence remains among us.
We bring you an invitation, or a guide, to make you want to discover some of the most important Jewish quarters in Portugal. An active and fundamental part in the history of Portugal over the centuries, the Jews left deep marks that persist in Portuguese towns and cities. Walkthrough what remains of the dark and winding streets of the old Jewish quarters where, between walls and murmurs, the Sephardic community knew how to preserve its traditions and religious practices, resisting intolerance, persecution by the Inquisition, and even expulsion in 1496. be fascinated by its rich history. Visit active synagogues, recognize the influence on the architecture and urbanism of mountain towns and pay attention to the names of the streets – many will be familiar to you.
For 900 years, the Portuguese capital was a Sephardic city that concentrated most of its Jewish history over the centuries. A creative, bustling, and dynamic city, Lisbon is identified as the birthplace of many of the most influential and emblematic families that persist to this day in international Hebrew symbology. Both in the time of the Jews and the New Christians, Lisbon was always present in Jewish history. During World War II, it was a refuge and starting point for tens of thousands of refugees.
PLACES TO VISIT
Alfama Neighborhood - Old Jewish Quarter
The characteristic Alfama neighborhood goes far beyond the characteristic fado that currently gives it its name. This neighborhood incorporates one of the 3 existing Jewish neighborhoods and still maintains the same layout as the old winding streets. In the square of the church of S. Domingos, there is a memorial that records the attack that in 1506 many fanatics perpetrated against the New Christians of Lisbon, killing a few thousand.
Shaaré Tikv Synagogue
The current Synagogue, Shaaré Tikvá, was inaugurated in 1904 and can be visited on Rua Alexandre Herculano, although without a direct façade to the street, as this visibility was still reserved for Catholic churches. The synagogue is currently managed by the Israeli Community of Lisbon.
The oldest Jewish quarter was located in Pedreira (current Armazéns do Chiado), where a synagogue was built in 1260. The Jewish Quarter of Taracenas was located in the western port area. The Old (or Grande) Jewry was in the center. It was an independent organ of the city's administration, with its officers, two synagogues, a school, library, kosher butcher shop, hospitals, public baths, court, and prison. The headstone used to build the synagogue, which dates from 1307, is preserved. From the Judiaria de Alfama, authorized by D. Pedro I, the name of Rua da Judiaria remains.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Ritz Four Seasons Hotel
With decorated facades adorned with shiny tiles and an Art Deco decoration, the Ritz Hotel of Lisbon follows the group's communication in the other hotels. situated in the heart of the capital, the hotel reflects the soul of Portuguese culture mixed with an up-to-date Louis XVI style, with a luxurious and important collection of works of art by Portuguese artists.
Pestana Palace Hotel
This luxurious and elegant hotel has an extraordinary view over the Tagus River. It is a privileged member of the group ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’ and is considered a national heritage. Around the hotel, there is a lush private park, with varied subtropical plants and trees, offering a magnificent panoramic view over the city of Lisbon.
WHERE TO EAT
Designed to the smallest detail by Chef Henrique sá Pessoa, another of the most recognized names in Portuguese author cuisine. Created to offer you the best gastronomic experience, the Alma restaurant, located in the Portuguese capital, strictly follows the ideas of the chef who conveys his influences and culinary references through the food. Get ready to enjoy a journey through the flavors of the world.
Here, the romanticism of Chiado and Lisbon's downtown is combined with contemporary Portuguese cuisine designed by chef José Avillez. With two Michelin stars, this restaurant is also on the list of “The World's 50 Best Restaurants”. With a unique, welcoming service, designed to provide you with an unforgettable meal, the restaurant also has a wine cellar complete with traditional and international wines.
Fifty Seconds Restaurant
This restaurant makes the difference above all for its location. Fifty seconds is located at the top of Torre Vasco da Gama, in Lisbon, making the whole experience a dream. Starting with the elevator to the 360º view of the city of Lisbon, the Vasco da Gama Bridge, and the Tagus river, the package is complete here. The breathtaking view is completed with wonderful tasting menus that introduce us to Martín Berasategui's cuisine.
JNCQUOI AVENIDA Restaurant
The Restaurant is composed of a beautiful room, attentive service, solid cuisine with classics from Italy, France, and Portugal, an incredible chef António Bóia, and one of those incredible atmospheres that all restaurateurs dream of and only a few achieve, like JNCQUOI Avenida. The inside of the whole restaurant is extraordinary, it must be said. High ceilings, the same windows of the old Tivoli theater, white or black stone tables, interior trees, cork, wood, and gold, a unique and sophisticated decor without a doubt.
Land of the great plain that extends from the Tagus River to the Algarve, the great territory of Alentejo was, in addition to being a national granary, the territory where there were more populous cities and towns in Portugal in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Largely located in the border area, these centers were thus able to accommodate many Jewish communities that developed and that, in the 15th century, showed great economic and social influence. Évora was one of the three most important cities in Portugal but the Sephardic organization extended to other strong cities such as Beja, Olivença, Estremoz, Castelo de Vide, Portalegre, Serpa, Elvas, Santiago do Cacém, Arraiolos, Avis, Montemor-o -Novo, Moura, Nisa, Portel, Viana do Alentejo, Arronches, Crato, Borba and Monsaraz.
Castelo de Vide Jewry
On a slope facing east and adjacent to the old medieval town, the Castelo de Vide Jewish Quarter is built. The narrow sidewalks that run from Porta da Vila, in the castle, to Fonte da Vila wind along a steep slope, similar in every way to those that form the remaining medieval nucleus of Castelo de Vide. It is interesting to see that the Jewish community of Castelo de Vide evolved between two fundamental spaces - the old Largo do Mercado and the ancient Fonte da Vila. The Jew, due to his experience in the diaspora, was fundamentally linked to mercantile activities, justifying themselves, mutually market and Jewish, in the same space - the eastern slope of the Castle.
ÓBIDOS | LEIRIA | TOMAR
A walled medieval town, in which, even today, you can see the marks of the old Jewish quarter and the synagogue building.
BELMONTE | CARREGAL DO SAL | CASTELO BRANCO
Jewish Museum of Belmonte
Belmonte's Jews survived the Inquisition even when all other Jewish and Muslim communities disappeared. Browse what remains of the Old Jewry, in the historic center, visit the Synagogue and, of course, the Jewish Museum.
House of Aristides de Sousa Mendes
It is not a Jewish Quarter but, due to the symbolism it carries, it is a must for anyone looking to trace the Route of the Jewish Quarters of Portugal. An imposing building from the 19th century, the Casa do Passal, in Cabanas de Viriato, Carregal do Sal, was inhabited by consul Aristides de Sousa Mendes who, during World War II, granted visas to thousands of Jews who found refuge in Portugal. National Monument since 2011 and the target of extensive rehabilitation works, it will be converted into a memory museum for the victims of the Holocaust.
Jewish Memory House
Stroll along the cobblestone paths of the Old Jewish Quarter and take the opportunity to visit the Memory House of the Jewish Presence. In addition to objects associated with religious and everyday rites, get to know some local Jewish personalities.
The city of Porto, which since the beginning of nationality had several Jewish quarters, saw D. João I, in 1386, order the Jews to be concentrated in the Olival district, within the medieval walls. The new Jewish quarter bordered two of the gates of this wall, places that can still be seen today: the one at Olival and the one at Escadas da Esnoga.
Three Jewish settlements are known in Porto: the Judiaria Velha, in Rua das Aldas (now Rua de Sant’Ana) and spreading out to Rua Escura and Rua Chã; the Judiaria de Monchique, outside the walls, in Miragaia; and the Judiaria Nova do Olival, once again within walls. The latter would be instituted in 1386, by order of Dom João I, justifying itself as a security measure and bringing together the Jews who were dispersed throughout the city. It was circumscribed by a fence, opened by two doors: one to the Largo da Porta do Olival, the other to the Escadas da Esnoga (today from Vitória), and the road to Belmonte.
Occupying an old olive grove, it was urbanized around the main axis, today made up of the streets of São Bento da Vitória and São Miguel, crossed by perpendicular lanes. In the center was the synagogue. After their expulsion from Castile, thirty families were welcomed and assimilated here, which would suffer another setback by the edict of December 1496, which forced them to convert or expel them. With the extinction of the Jewish Quarter of Olival, the houses of Jews reluctant to conversion were handed over to old Christians. In those that remained occupied by the now New Christians, marks – many cruciforms – were engraved on the doorposts, lintels, and foundations of the buildings, Christian symbols that replaced the mezuzah. The monumental Monastery of São Bento da Vitória was built on part of the old Jewish quarter, while the synagogue was to be transformed into the Church of Nossa Senhora da Vitória.
PLACES TO VISIT AND THINGS TO DO
Oporto Holocaust Museum
In 1938, while in Germany the Synagogues were being burned, the Israeli Community of Porto was inaugurated, in Invicta, the largest Synagogue in the Iberian Peninsula. And, in 2021, the Porto Holocaust Museum opened its doors, which aims to portray Jewish life before, during, and after the great barbarism. The space includes a room for the names of Nazi victims, a memorial of the flame, photographs, cinema and reproductions of a dormitory, and the entrance to the Auschwitz extermination camp. Remembering and reflecting, so that it never happens again.
Get to know the former Jewish Quarter of Olival
The Jewish Quarter at Olival was an authentic ghetto, functioning for 111 years. It was enclosed by a high wall around the existing “Rua da Vitória”, “Rua das Taipas”, “Travessa do Ferraz” and “Rua dos Caldeireiros”. It was established around a central axis, with two iron gates at the ends, closing at sunset.
Discover the current Jewish community in Porto
Its construction began in 1929, having been inaugurated in 1938. It is the largest synagogue in the Iberian Peninsula and is located on Rua de Guerra Junqueiro, in the city of Porto, Portugal.
The Kadoorie Synagogue, alias Kadoorie Synagogue - Mekor Haim ("Source of Life"), is the synagogue and headquarters of the Jewish community of Porto, whose official name is Comunidade Israelita do Porto/ Jewish Community of Porto.
Drink Kosher wine
Quinta da Aveleda launched a Kosher wine to the market in 2012.
Jewish Museum Of Porto
The Jewish Museum of Porto is one of the few Jewish museums in Europe that are run by a Jewish community.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Le Monumental Palace Hotel
Place where luxury lives, right on Avenida dos Aliados. Historically luxurious, and predestined for notable travelers. Like the high society of Portugal, you are now part of history by choosing this 5-star hotel that exceeds the norm, a member of Leading Hotels of the World.
Intercontinental Hotel - Palácio das Cardosas
The InterContinental Porto was born from the former Palacio das Cardosas and has become a luxurious 5-star hotel. Situated in the historic center of Porto, the hotel has a privileged view of the emblematic Avenida dos Aliados.
The Yeatman Hotel
With spectacular views over the historic Porto and the Douro River, this two-bedroom suite was designed to offer unforgettable memories. The Presidential Suite is one of The Yeatman's brand new suites and the most luxurious, with its private pool and garden with panoramic views, providing a relaxing retreat experience. The suite features a luxurious design with two bedrooms, two private bathrooms, and two living rooms, both with access to the terrace, garden, and pool.
WHERE TO EAT
Pedro Lemos Restaurant
Pedro Lemos is one of the finest restaurants in Portugal. Located in Foz do the Douro, where the river kisses the sea, this incredible place was designed in an English style in a modern and elegant environment. The restaurant defines itself as being traditional, using seasonal and local products, honoring nature. Since the gastronomic experience is only complete when accompanied by good wine, capable of harmonizing and bringing out the best flavors of the meal, the Pedro Lemos restaurant has an enviable selection of wines.
Le Monument Restaurant
This luxurious and refined Gourmet restaurant is located in the heart of the city of Porto, and its menu is signed by the prestigious chef Julien Montbabut. This is a must-stop for Epicureans, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After two years of looking for the best of Portuguese cuisine, the star chef has created the ultimate gourmet experience where he recounts his gastronomic journey through Portugal. Here the French know-how joins its roots with the most traditional Portuguese flavors.
Casa de Chá da Boa Nova Restaurant
This restaurant is signed by chef Rui Paula, a famous name in Portuguese cuisine. This restaurant promises to bring the sea to the table and has a unique view. When we enter, we feel embraced by the sea: its imposing windows with a privileged view of the sea are the beginning of an unforgettable gastronomic experience.
Since the sec. XIV that the Jews of the then important city of Lamego occupied the area between the castle and the church of Stª. Mary of Almacave. In the century. next, the Jewish quarters were already two; the oldest (the old Jewish quarter) was located next to Porta do Sol, which corresponded to the new Jewish quarter or at the end of the churchyard.
Talk to our travel advisors, they are more than ready to help you on your dream trip.
Alentejo, Lisbon, Porto and Douro - How to live a Luxury Life in Portugal?
Luxury Escapes - Comporta: Exclusive, Secluded and Private Portuguese Paradise
The Best of Luxury 2021: Life Can be Savored Trough Experiences that Fell Like Home
Enjoy a Much-Needed Break on This One Day Douro Valley Wineries Tour
Luxurious Destinations to Experience a Exquisite Mixture of Culture and Diversion