Route of the Girona's Jewish Community, a trip to medieval age
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#18 Route through the Jewish quarter of Girona, a trip to medieval times

History of the neighborhood and the influence of the Jewish community in the city of Girona, and the key tourist spots


The oldest test demonstrating the passage of the Jewish community in Girona is a preserved document dating from 888 in which the presence of 25 families is mentioned for the first time. However, it was not until well into the twelfth century when this community really articulated in the La Força Street, formerly called street of Sant Llorenç. It was there that most of the families who lived around the Cathedral settled, forming a small community of up to 800 neighbors. On the other hand several points of Catalonia also welcome the first aljama, as Barcelona (1244), Castelló d'Empúries, Besalú, Figueres, Banyoles or Torroella de Montgrí.

Over time, their economic solvency and acquisition of real estate made Christians uncomfortable, as they saw how they could no longer live from receiving their rents. This fact caused the Christians to confront the monarchs of the time, who accepted the presence of Jews, charged them high taxes and instead offered them protection. In Girona the community had an extension of virgin land in the north of the city, at least since 1207, specifically in Montjuïc (mount of the Jews), where they could bury their dead, buildings located in the street of the Ballesteries, in the Mercadell (space currently occupied by the building of the Pia Almoina), and in the pseudo-industrial zone of the Mercadal, where they had rights over several mills.

The narrow, humid stone streets preserved in Girona allow us to delve into the city's Jewish past.

The last decades of Jewish presence a Girona were characterized by the strong pressure to which it was subjected: they were not allowed to live outside the Call, and if they left, they had to identify themselves with a red circle. From that centenary legacy remains the current Jewish Quarter from Girona , one of the best preserved in Europe with the economic collaboration of the state of Israel .


Museum of Jewish History

On the floor of the courtyard of the Bonastruc ça Porta Centre, we can find illustrated a large star of David, very close to where the last Jewish synagogue of Girona was erected, used until its followers were expelled from the city and from the peninsula in 1492. Today, the 15th century synagogue houses the Museum of the Jews and the Nahmanides Studies Institute, a facility that attracts thousands of tourists to the city every year, and which is located between Força Street and Sant Llorenç Street, in the middle of Girona.

This museum is dedicated to all Jewish communities medieval, but makes special reference to Girona. It brings us closer to its history, culture, gastronomy, customs, trades ... in short, the character that allowed the splendor of the Jewish community the thirteenth century, despite strong movements of rejection. It also contains the most important Hebrew lapidary collection in Spain. The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except Sundays and public holidays when it closes at 3 p.m. The entrance fee is 2 euros and allows the use of an audio-guide. In order to be able to access it is necessary to enter by the Bonastruc ça Porta Centre, in La Força Street number 8, a house owned by the doctor and philosopher who gives name to the centre, one of the most outstanding members of the community, with echo in Catalonia and with a street with his name in Jerusalem.


The Jewish Quarter in Girona

Within the Força Vella, one of the most emblematic spaces is the Jewish Quarter, formed by a labyrinth of alleys and courtyards that maintain the aura of medieval times. It is one of the best preserved in the world, a stone labyrinth that speaks to the visitor of the city's past and connects it with its present.

Its social, political, religious, economic and cultural influence a Girona, especially between the 12th and 14th centuries, is indisputable. Today the Jewish Quarter of Girona is still an economic engine in terms of tourism, is one of the most visited in the world and has become a sign of identity of the city and an inseparable part of its brand. It has also been a source of inspiration for multiple cultural manifestations, and has generated an enormous amount of literature, photography, painting, sculpture or engravings; and has influenced architecture, urbanism, gastronomy, modelling the traditions and customs of the Girona people.


Other key points of the route of the Jewish Community in Girona

Pujada de la Verge de la Pera (uphill): is located to the right of La Força Street and ends in one of the little gateways of the old Girona's neighborhood, following it we can reach the upper limit of the Jewish Quarter.

Pabordia: This is a set of buildings where the public baths were between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. We can arrive following the Pujada de la Verge de la Pera (uphill).

Institut Vell Little Square: located almost at the end of Força Street, where there are several very significant constructions with respect to the passage of the Jews through Girona in medieval times. In the square is the Canonja Vella, a 12th century building, inside you can find an old alley parallel to the street of the Force and which is currently walled up.

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