The Jewish presence in Iberia has existed long before Portugal itself became a country. The contribution of Portuguese Jews to the arts, philosophy, commerce and sciences helped create the rich cultural heritage of this nation.
Our unique tour focuses on places of Jewish interest, as well as the fascinating people who continue to contribute to Portuguese society. These descendants of the Inquisition, often referred to as Marranos, are now known as the B’nai Anusim (Children of Oppression). Forced to convert during the past, retained over the centuries their precious Jewish practices, as well as pride in their true heritage.
Have an inimitable Jewish experience while staying at charming hotels, tasting a genuine cuisine, enjoying superior sightseeing in private transfers. All our guides are licensed with in-depth knowledge of Jewish heritage in Portugal.
LISBON / SINTRA/ ÉVORA / MARVÃO/ CASTELO DE VIDE/ BELMONTE / TRANCOSO / TOMAR
6-day tour departing from Lisbon
This Portugal Jewish heritage tour is one of the many possibilities for Jewish travel to Portugal. We customize travel for individuals and groups all over the country, from luxury tours to arrangements for the budget minded travellers. Kosher meals are available under request. Tours can be organized with a minimum of 2 people travelling, all year around.
DAY 1 – Tuesday
During the morning: Arrival at Lisbon international airport and transfer to your city centre hotel. In the afternoon begin a panoramic sightseeing tour. Lisbon is, without doubt, a charming city, both Atlantic and Mediterranean, illuminated by an extraordinary light. Singular monuments scatter themselves through an urban landscape unlike any other, and beautiful viewpoints open up extraordinary views over the river Tagus.
Jewish life probably began here not long before the city fell to the Moors in the 8th century. The Alfama quarter, hugging a slope between the river and the castle, is one of the city’s oldest areas, and a large Jewish community flourished here in the hereabouts of the Rua da Judiaria. As the community grew, and more Jewish refugees came to Lisbon, a new Judiaria Pequena formed in the 13th century near what is today the central Praça do Comércio. This entire area was totally destroyed by the 1755 earthquake. The nearby Rossio square, was the site of the court of the Inquisition. It was here that countless autos-da-fé were held where Jews and other accused heretics were burnt at the stake. Lisbon’s main Synagogue Shaare Tikva was built in the early 20th century as Jews of Portuguese descent returned to Portugal from Gibraltar and North Africa.
Day 2 – Wednesday
LISBON / SINTRA
This morning depart to Sintra a World Heritage site known as "Lord Byron`s Glorious Eden". Sintra was used as a retreat by the Romans, the Moors and the Portuguese Kings due to its position, its beauty, wooden ravines and fresh water springs. The Jewish quarter where the Jews lived and mixed at Court before the forced conversions of 1497, is still visible today.Visit to National Royal Palace and afterwards back to Lisbon where you will pay visit to Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, World Heritage site which houses a breathtaking cloister Torre de Belém, guarding the mouth of the Tagus River from where the navigators set out on voyages of discovery of the trade routes, and Padrão dos Descobrimentos, where some New-Christians who contributed with their knowledge towards the Discoveries, are represented.
DAY 3 - Thursday
LISBON / ÉVORA / MARVÃO
This morning depart to Alentejo, a large territory at the south of Lisbon. Enjoy a unique journey across the most fascinating, well-preserved region of Portugal, with a heritage enriched by a variety of cultures and landscapes blessed by a unique beauty. Évora, an ancient city of narrow streets, unforgettable monuments and white, sun-washed houses is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986. This monumental city prospered in the late middle ages. It was here that one of the largest Jewish communities existed up to the 15th century and several houses still bear traces of the old Mezuzot. The Judiaria had two synagogues, a hospital, a Midrash, baths, and lively commerce. Departure to Marvão, a geranium-filled, walled village perched on a high rocky peak from where one can almost touch the sky. This impressive fortress town served as an entry point to the thousands of Jews who fled Spain in the 15th and 14th centuries.
Day 4 - Friday
MARVÃO / CASTELO DE VIDE / BELMONTE
Depart to Castelo de Vide. Scenic and charming, this small town welcomes the visitor with its white house cling to a castle on a hill. By the 14th century a large Jewish community existed here, and fascinating remains document its importance today. The Judiaria ran from the castle gate, done to the village fountain (Fonte da Vila) and on to the Rua Nova. An amazing medieval synagogue stands at the corner of the Rua da Judiaria and Rua da Fonte. Restored to its original appearance, the museum today features the original 14th-century stone ark for the Torah, and baths. Many nearby houses have markings or Mezuzot slots on the doors as evidence to their former Jewish owners
Departure to Belmonte, check in your historic hotel. Later transfer to the Bet Eliahu Synagogue for Kabbalat Shabbat Service with the members of this unique community.
DAY 5 – Saturday
BELMONTE / TRANCOSO
This morning is dedicated to visit Belmonte and your guide will lead you in an interesting walking tour through the village including the Jewish Museum and the Judiaria.
This remote and beautiful village of Portugal is rich in the history and traditions of crypto Jews. Belmonte was already famed for being the birthplace of Pedro Álvares Cabral, the first Portuguese captain to sight Brazil in 1500. But, in the 20th century a significant community of cryptic Jews, sometimes called Marranos, emerged. Although they had practiced many of the ritual of Judaism for centuries, they were unaware of their true heritage. Jewish communities around the world came to their aid helping them rediscover their roots, and in 1993 the community welcomed its first rabbi in more than four centuries. Shortly after that Temple Bet Eliahou was built. Amazingly, many of the Jewish families still live in the town’s charming Judiaria, called the Bairro de Marrocos.
In the afternoon the tour will continue to the walled town of Trancoso where Jewish merchants first settled in the 12th century. Visit the well preserved on the facade of the Casa do Gato Negro (The house of the Black Cat). The façade of the house is decorated with emblems that have been interpreted as representations of the Lion of Judah and the Gates of Jerusalem. The house itself used to belong to the former Rabbi of this community and it was probably also used as the local Synagogue. Now, the town of Trancoso is honoring its Jewish heritage with the establishment of the Isaac Cardoso Center for Jewish Interpretation, along with a new synagogue called Beit Mayim Hayim – “the House of Living Waters.” A mezuza was affixed to the entrance of the synagogue – the first mezuza in the village for hundreds of years!
DAY 6 – Sunday
BELMONTE/ TOMAR / LISBON
In the morning departure to Tomar, one of the oldest and most charming towns in Portugal, funded by the Order of the Knights Templar. Visit the 15th century Synagogue, now the Abraão Zacuto Museum located on what was once Rua da Judiaria. Here is a significant reminder of one of the greatest Sephardic Jewish communities, now classified as a national monument. With Gothic vaults upheld by four central columns, this structure houses Jewish gravestones, the cornerstones of the 13th Century Synagogue of Belmonte and the 14th Century Lisbon Synagogue and other remains of Tomar´s medieval Jewish community. Later visit Convento de Cristo (Unesco World Heritage Site), which once served as the headquarters of the Order which promoted the Portuguese Age of Discoveries, assisted always by the contribution of Jewish scientists and investors. Departure to Lisbon check in your city centre hotel and remainders of the day at leisure.
DAY 7 – Monday
Transfer to the airport in connection to your flight home
Please contact us at: enquirypisode-travel.com
We will be glad to suggest you the best itinerary taking into account your available time, wishes and special requirements. We can organize itineraries especially for Kosher travellers.
Episode -Travel with Art, is a fully bonded tour operator which specializes in cultural tours. Portugal Tourism licence # 2693. www.episode-travel.com