Private Jewish Heritage tour of Barcelona
Today we feature one of our Barcelona Local Jewish Expert - Laurie Cohen.
Having lived in Barcelona since 2000, born in Jerusalem, having knowledge of the Jewish history of Barcelona, local public opinion of Israel, Jews and the chaotic Middle East situation, Laurie offers unique tours for people with an interest in finding out the reality of Jewish history of Barcelona since the Middle Ages all the way up to the present day increase in the Jewish community. Below you find his description of the tour.
5 hour Barcelona Jewish History & City Tour Overview
I am proud of my Jewish heritage, and feel that it is my duty to do my best to explain the great injustices that Jews had suffered in Spain since over 500 years ago, the way that Israel has been portrayed recently in local education text books and the media, and the reason that my children are proud of their Jewish identity as well as being Spanish citizens.
Like much of Barcelona's Jewish history destroyed over 500 years ago and lost in the ancient stones, most tours will certainly not mention Semana Santa in 1367, when the residents of Barcelona's Jewry, close to 5000 people were crowded into the Synagogue without food, water or sanitation provisions, until 3 elders "admitted" to poisoning the Cathedral's host and were publicly hanged.
Chances are you won't hear about the Inquisition or the Edict of Expulsion of 1492, after which Spain remained free of Jews until the beginning of the 20th century, when just a few Jewish refugees began to return, mainly to Madrid.
You probably also won't hear about the fact that since the 2nd intifada, many young Spaniards consider the support of Palestinians a crucial qualification for being identified as "progressive" or leftist - just look up at the Palestinian flags hanging over the entrance to the Jewish museum in Girona!
I do however, feel that positive changes are happening, especially in the street, where more and more Spaniards have closer contact to local Jews and the huge amount of Israeli's coming to visit each year are testament to changes for the better...
Description of itinerary
The meeting point would be at the client's hotel. We would start the tour by heading to the Boqueria market half way down the Ramblas - a delight for the senses! We will capture the chaos as the locals go about their daily routine in this fantastic market.
From here, we will cut across the Ramblas and head towards the Gothic quarter. We will arrive at the ancient Jewish Quarter known as the "Call" [old Jewish quarter], walk the old narrow streets and visit the ancient Synagogue - the oldest known synagogue in Europe that dates back to the Roman era. We will also visit an unusual sight also located in the Call - the site of a Jewish Mikvah that is located at the back of a home decor shop.
Here you will step back in time through the small alleyways and courtyards filled with soft light and great atmosphere. The old stone walls, gargoyles, gothic and roman architecture are in stark contrast to the street performers we will pass by. Now we will walk towards one of the marvels of Catalan Modernism - the Music Palace.
This is one of the finest examples of Art Nouveau architecture in existence and together with his other World Heritage Site, the stunning Hospital de San Pau, is the masterpiece of it's architect, Domenech i Montaner. From here we will take a short train ride on the metro to capture the stunning architecture of 2 of Antoni Gaudi's masterpieces - the Casa Mila & Casa Batllo. The unique footprint of Gaudi is undoubtedly one of the main reasons people come to visit Barcelona, and makes for a pleasant stroll down the wonderful Paseo de Gracia.
From here, we will take a short ride to the Park Guell to see another one of Gaudi's criertions. Arriving at Park Guell for the first time is a jaw-dropping experience! Gaudi was commissioned to let his imagination run wild at this park, and it shows in the amount of thought put into the design.
You will capture the beauty of this fairy-tale park down to the smallest details. This is one of the highlights for visitors to Barcelona, and also offers great views over Barcelona to the sea. From Park Guell we will take a taxi to the Sagrada Familia to visit Gaudi's most ambitious project.
This stunning piece of architecture is undoubtedly the pride of Barcelona.
Now we will jump back on the metro and enter at Plaza Espana. Here will see the foot of Montjuic [mount of the Jews] and catch a bus up to the top. This was the location of the old Jewish settlement and cemetery. Montjuic is a beautiful retreat from the city, with it's olympic stadium, botanical gardens, palaces and museums, all set between pine trees and many species of flora.
We will arrive to the top for some stunning views at the castle. This is a great place to end the tour, and i will escort you back to your hotel or to Plaza Cataluna.
Tour times are usually from 9.30am-2.30pm [other hours can be arranged on request] - Tour is done by foot, metro service and by taxi [transport costs of approx. 20.00 Euros is payable on spot ] or also possible with Laurie driving his car. W