Not many people know about the history of Jews in Barcelona and the cultural heritage that they left behind. That’s why, after trying out the new Old Jewish Quarter in Barcelona Experience, we wanted to let you know what we learnt about it. Note that we had to present some vouchers at the Call Barcelona and at the Major Synagogue to access them.
A LITTLE HISTORY
The very first evidence of Jews in Barcelona dates back to the 11th century. They referred to the Jewish Quarter as Call Barcelona, which means “alley”. The Jewish Quarter definitely went through different stages while cohabiting with the rest of the city. They were unfortunately segregated, confined and sometimes attacked. Everyone within the Jewish Quarter lived according to the Jewish religions, festivals, laws and customs. The Jewish community owned part of today’s city center in Barcelona as well as the Montjuïc Mountain, where they had their own cemetery.
The Jewish community expanded their territory around the Medieval Age because the population grew. Thanks to recent studies, they could locate and name different shops and buildings. They even discovered importante Jewish figures and their occupation. In 1215, the 4th Lateran Council made various measures against the Jews, one being the closure of the Jewish Quarter so they were totally separated from Christians.
BLACK DEATH AND ATTACKS
The Black Death killed around 35 million people in Europe in 1390. However, Christians blamed the Jews of poisoning the water because they were less affected by the epidemic. Therefore, in 1348 the Call was attacked and several Jews were murdered or imprisoned.
OLD JEWISH QUARTER EXPERIENCE
The 12€ experience at the Jewish Quarter was quite interesting. It basically included a 3D Virtual Video Experience about the Jewish history and an admission ticket to the Major Synagogue. Moreover, it also included a self-guided map which you have to follow to discover the many emblematic buildings within the Jewish Quarter.
Our first stop was the Beit Jabad or the Call Barcelona shop. Here, you’re taken into a room with comfortable armchairs to experience a virtual 3D video about Jew’s history, culture, traditions and lifestyle. You can also find souvenirs, books and many other elements in relation with the Jewish community.
After that, we went to the oldest synagogue in Europe and the very last one discovered, called the Major Synagogue. A multilingual guide takes you around while explaining the synagogue’s history, secrets and curiosities.
The guided tour at the Major Synagogue ended so, we continued the experience at our own pace with the self-guided map. There’s 10 locations on the map: Beit Jabad, Major Synagogue, Yosef Bunger House, Women Synagogue, Inquisition Headquarters, HaRashba House, Gravestone Wall, King’s Palace, HaEkdesh and the Water well.
Strolling down the streets while admiring all the different buildings that we just learned about was very exciting. It’s definitely an alternative way of exploring Barcelona for those who have an interest on the Jewish community in the city.