Avila is a World Heritage Site that includes an important Sephardic Legacy within its impressive
medieval city walls. The earliest documentary evidence of the Jewish presence in Avila dates
from 1144, when Alfonso VII bestowed a tenth of the annual income of the Jews on the
Cathedral. However, we do believe that some Jewish people already inhabited Avila during the
Roman times, when Avila became a Christian city.
The Jews of Avila were craftsmen and merchants, but some of them became notable scholars, such Moshe de Leon, who wrote the Sefer HaZohar, a masterpiece of the Kabbalah, the Jewish mysticism, back to the 13th century. Avila was also home of Nissim Ben Abraham, considered a fake prophet, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, these last two descendants of conversos, who became the main representants of Christian Mysticism. The sadly famous Torquemada, General Inquisitor, had his home in Avila also.
In Avila we will discover Saint Vincent’s Quarter, with its ancient Basilica, a Romanesque Jewel that, according to the legend, was built by a Jewish man in the 4th century. Walking by the Old city we will admire its ancient Cathedral and Saint Peter’s Atrium, where the famous trial about The Boy of La Guardia’s murder was celebrated with awful consequences for the Jewish communities in Spain at the end of the 15th century.
Mercado Chico Square was the limit of the Jewish quarter where the City Hall host one of the few original manuscripts of the Bill of Expulsion of Jews from Spain signed by the Catholic Kings on March 1492.
Santo Domingo Quarter, Santa Teresa’s Convent, the Garden of Moisés de León and Malaventura’s gate are some of the highlights of the visit too.
In the afternoon we will continue towards Segovia.
SEGOVIA is worldwide know by its amazingly well preserve Roman Aqueduct that dates from the 1st century and it is also a World Heritage site protected by the UNESCO.
This city was a perfect example of the peaceful coexistence between Jews, Christians and Muslims that for centuries existed in this city during the Medieval Ages. Segovia was one of the wealthiest cities in Castile and Spain and its aljama (Jewish district) hosted just over 50 families. Its inhabitants were physicist, craftsmen, surgeons and tradesmen, some of them such as Abraham Senneor, became administrators of the Royal family.
Even though there is no documentary evidence of persecution or violence towards the Jewish people in Segovia, Catherine of Lancaster’s Pragmatic Decree of 1412 obliged Segovia Jews to remain within the Jewish Quarter and in 1481 the Catholic Kings decreed the closing of the Jewry with seven gateways and brickwork arches.
The Jewish Quarter of Segovia is a large area on the south of the city, alongside the city walls. The Ancien Sinagoga Mayor, one of the five synagogues we do know about, was located where the Church of Corpus Christi stands today, near one of the seven gates that closed the Jewry later one. It was an active Jewish Temple between 1373 and 1410 and became a Christian church just 9 years after its confiscation.
We continue by the street Judería Vieja where we can imagine the lively Jewish life back to the Medieval Ages with its brick and wood houses where most of its Jewish inhabitants participated in the local trading growth between the 13th and 14th century. Near Puerta del Sol, we will find La Casa Mudejar, Today a hostel and restaurant that used to be a Palace belonging to a wealthy Jewish family right before the expulsion in 1492. We will admire also another palace that belonged to Abraham Senneor, General Accountant of Castile and one the most important counselors of the Catholic Kings, who remained in Castile after the Jewish Expulsion, becoming one of the most famous conversos of the time.
Plaza del Rastrillo where the wealthiest Jewish families used to live, San Geroteo St, where the Mayor Sinagogue was before 1419, when the building was bought by the family Ibañez; Almuzara street, the center of the Jewish district where there was a grocery according to some documents of 1287 are some other spots of the tour.
The visit can be completed with Centro de Interpretación de la Muralla, at Saint Andrew’s Gate, where you can enjoy the view of the Ancient Jewish cemetery located at the other side of the valley.