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July 27, 2014updated Oct 06, 2015

Sepharad Spain: A Journey Through Spain’s Jewish Heritage

By Chris Boyle

synagogue

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The Jewish community in Spain has a long and rich history that stretches back some 2,000 years to Roman times when Jews left Jerusalem and dispersed throughout the world.

One of the largest contingents of Jews settled in the land of Sepharad (or Sefarad) as Spain was called in Hebrew language. For centuries, this Sephardic community thrived through times of peace and prosperity. It also endured periods of oppression and prosecution. Today, the vibrant Jewish heritage of the Iberian Peninsula has been rediscovered. Throughout Spain, a revival is underway of Sephardic neighborhoods, medieval synagogues and Jewish cultural events.

The confluence of Jewish, Muslim and Christian cultures in this region provides a fascinating journey into the past. This guide will introduce you to the Spanish Jewish sites of prominent cities like Barcelona, Girona, Seville, Jaen, Córdoba, Toledo, Segovia, Cáceres, Ávila, León, Oviedo and Palma. Even beyond the existing cities notable for their Jewish heritage, discoveries of Jewish importance in Spain are still being made to this day, such as in Lorca, where a well-preserved synagogue – visible at the Lorca Parador hotel – is being excavated, and pieces of more than 50 rare glass synagogue oil lamps have been unearthed.

Now more than ever, these cities of Sephardic Spain are welcoming guests to explore their vibrant architecture, art, grand hotels and festivals, as well as some of most distinctive fine food and wine in the world.

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