5-base, 5* Hotel Itinerary May 2-14 2017
Southern Spain, Andalucía Gibraltar, for Shabbat Morocco, Tangier day trip and Portugal, the Last Survivors of the Inquisition
We hope this is the ultimate Iberian Peninsula tour. Incredible hotels, fascinating content (Jewish and general), fine fresh kosher cuisine and, as always, a lot of fun!!
All our beautiful 5* hotels we will enjoy magnificent cuisine prepared by the hotel chefs under the strict supervision of Rabbi Ron Hassid, Chief Rabbi of Gibraltar.
Part I – Andalucía Tues-Fri
In 711 the Moors (Muslim Arabs) over-ran Southern Spain, crossing the narrow straits to today’s Gibraltar (from Jabal Tariq, the general who led the conquest).
In Andalucia we will see how the 3 great cultures of the Jewish, Christian and Moslem religions flourished during the Middle Ages. We’ll visit Ibn Gvirol’s Malaga, Rambam’s Cordoba, once the biggest city in all of Europe and Granada, former home of the Ibn Ezra, Judah HaLevi and Shmuel HaNagid. Here in Granada, in the incomparably beautiful Alhambra Palace, the infamous Decree of Expulsion was signed in 1492 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
Our base for this Part I is La Bobadilla Resort, a Leading Hotels of the World property tucked away in the gorgeous countryside almost equidistant from the three towns we will visit. It would be wrong not to let you also enjoy the hotel’s wonderful facilities, so the program makes that possible too.
The hotel’s chefs will introduce you to some Spanish specialties, served in our own restaurant overlooking the gardens. We’ll be treated, inter alia, to gazpacho and paella, in a version that meets our kosher requirements, of course!!
Part II – Ronda, Marbella, Gibraltar and Tangier Fri-Mon
En route to Gibraltar we will visit romantic Ronda, built atop an enormous gorge with a dry river below. Ronda is famed for its beauty, its stunning position and for its bullfighting ring, said to be the oldest in Spain. Less wellknown is the Jewish history about which we’ll hear. We’ll make time for a coffee in the beautiful old town of Marbella as well as eyeballing Puerto Banus – marina to the super rich and famous and the center of the Costa del Sol jet-set.
Gibraltar with its Rock is unique. It is proudly British, with a tiny but vibrant, extremely influential, almost totally observant Jewish community. Entering Gibraltar, you will immediately be aware that you are in the British Empire, with "bobbies", typically English red "post" boxes and Marks & Spencers in the High Street. During Shabbat and On Monday morning we’ll sight-see the Jewish and general highlights with a visit to the Upper Reserve, home of the famous Gibraltar apes. Anyone you ask will tell you Shabbat in “Gib” is NOT to be missed!!
Sunday - A day in Morocco
We’re heading to Tangier for a glimpse of North Africa. We’ll get an overview of the city, driving along the main boulevards and into the fashionable residential districts with their magnificent villas and lovely gardens.
Most of the Jews left Tangier during the last 70 years, in several waves, to Israel, Canada, France and the US.
Less than 100 Jews remain, all elderly. We will try to visit two synagogues, one in the Mellah, the Jewish quarter, beautiful but unused; the other is a modern synagogue in the new city where prayers are held on Shabbat and Chagim.
After lunch, we’ll round off our “day in Africa” with a stroll through the picturesque winding streets and souks of the Medina to visit the Berber markets.
Part III Mon-Tue – Seville
Seville the capital of Andalucía, immortalized in opera classics such as "The Barber of Seville," "Carmen" and "Don Giovanni."
Here, the imposing Cathedral is one of the largest in the world and the resting place of Spanish Kings and Queens, as well as that of Christopher Columbus. No one knows if his
remains are there.
Then there is the Alcazar Palace, still used as a residence for the Spanish Royal Family and the grand Plaza Espana, site of the pavilion of the great 1929 exhibition. Last but not least,
we'll visit the Barrio de Santa Cruz - the former Jewish Quarter. Today, it is one of Seville's most charming areas.
We’ll spend one night here before flying off to
Porto to begin our Portuguese adventure.
Part IV – Porto, Belmonte and Coimbra Tue-Fri
Over our 3 days spent in the north of Portugal we’ll visit the unique synagogue of Porto, the largest in the Iberian peninsula, where we’ll hear the ultimately tragic story of Carlos de Barros Basto.
Porto is a beautiful city, and the source of all Port Wine. There is Kosher Port produced from time to time and we’ll try to get some for you to taste. The city’s waterfront is a World Heritage monument.
Another stop is Coimbra, one of the most ancient university cities in Europe with a richly decorated baroque library that people travel from far and wide to see. The walls are covered
by two storied shelves, in gilded or painted exotic woods; the painted ceilings blend harmoniously with the rest of the decoration. The library contains about 250,000 volumes:
works of medicine, geography, history, humanistic studies, science, civil and canonical law, philosophy and theology. We’ll also visit the ancient Jewish quarter.
For many the highlight of the entire tour, we will spend a
day visiting the towns of Belmonte and Trancoso. Climbing up from Porto we reach the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, in many of whose villages Jews were settled. After visiting Portugal’s highest town, Guarda, we will reach the centre of the “lost tribe” of Belmonte.
The history of this community which survived the inquisition and remained in hiding until discovered in the 1920’s is incredible. For only the past 25 years or so, the Jews of Belmonte have been exposed to modern Orthodox Judaism. The majority of the young people have now made Aliya.
Part V – towards Lisbon Fri-Sun
We say goodbye to the Yeatman Hotel, Porto, where we will have dined sumptuously and enjoyed the fabulous property’s facilities, to travel south.
Our first stop is at Tomar, home to Portugal’s oldest synagogues and the Abraham Zacuto Portuguese Jewish Museum, a national monument.
The Sinagoga de Tomar was built in the mid-15th century. Its short history as a Jewish place of worship came to an end in 1496, when the community was expelled by the Catholic
authorities in 1496. Samuel Schwartz, a Jewish mining engineer from Poland, bought the building in 1923. After lovingly restoring it, he donated it to the Portuguese state in 1939. In return, Schwartz and his wife received Portuguese citizenship and protection during WW2.
From Tomar we continue to Obidos, a medieval walled and beautiful village.
After an hour or so there we’ll arrive in Lisbon with time to prepare for Shabbat.
After Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat in the city’s beautiful synagogue we will enjoy Shabbat dinner in the Dom Pedro Palace, our hotel.
Shabbat in Lisbon will be spent with shul, meals and expertly guided walking tours. There is a lot to see in Lisbon and we will see as much as can be organized without any infringement of Shabbat; some institutions will let us pre- or post-pay, so that we can visit inside many of the city’s most fascinating sights. After Shabbat – evening out “on the town” in Lisbon.
On Sunday we’ll complete our touring and bring you to the airport with a packed picnic lunch in time for the afternoon flights back home. See below for suggestions!
Every day: 3 tefillot, full buffet breakfast, light lunch on the move (except Shabbat), elegant served dinner.
2) spending money for shopping: plenty to choose from, although we limit the time allocated. However you can always go off on your own and meet us later!!
3) upgrades: deluxe rooms (DLX) and single occupancy are available at an additional price (see booking form).
4) insurance: all clients should be aware that while all efforts are made to avoid any problems before during or after your trip, Naomi carries no insurance for your health
or luggage. While using the services only of registered suppliers, we highly recommend that you purchase fully comprehensive travel insurance as Naomi cannot be held liable for any mishaps during your stay.
5) tips: we recommend $350 per guest total for drivers, chefs, waiters and maids: we will collect and distribute for you.
Some Jewish history of Portugal
The 13th and 14th centuries were known as Portugal’s Golden Age of Discovery, in which Jews made a major contribution to Portugal’s success. In the early 14th century, more than 200,000 Jews lived in Portugal, which was about 20 percent of the total population.
Portugal was home to many famous Jews during this period. Abraham Zacuto wrote tables that provided the principal base for Portuguese navigation, including those used by Vasco Da Gama on his trip to India. Guedelha-Master Guedelha served as a rabbi and doctor and astrologer for both King Duarte and King Alfonso V.Isaac Abravanel was one of the principal merchants and a member of one the most influential Jewish families in Portugal. Another figure, Jose Vizinho, served as doctor and astrologer to King Joao II. Joao II also sent the Jew, Abraham de Beja, on many voyages to the East.
Jews became the intellectual and economic elite of the country. Jews were involved in all aspects of the explorations, from financing the sailing fleets to making scientific discoveries in the fields of mathematics, medicine and cartography. Many were employed as physicians and astronomers as well royal treasurers, tax collectors and advisors. It was common to see Jews adorned in silk clothing, carrying gilt swords and riding beautiful horses. They were given preferential
treatment by the kings.
Jealous of the Jews’ success, anti-Jewish sentiment arose in the peasant and middle classes. Fights between Jews and Christians became more common after the influx of Jews from Spain into Portugal, in 1391.
In 1492, more than 150,000 Spanish Jews came to Portugal seeking permanent refuge. King Joao II of Portugal allowed them to enter because he was preparing for war against the Moors and wanted to take advantage of their wealth and expertise in weapon-making. At a price of 100 Cruzados a family, 630 wealthy Jewish families were granted permanent residence. A number of craftsmen, skilled in making weapons, were also allowed to become permanent residence. The rest were permitted to stay in Portugal for eight months, upon payment of 8 cruzados per adult. At the end of those eight months, shipping was still not available, so the King forfeited Jewish liberty and declared the remaining Jews slaves.
Another tragedy befell the Jewish community in 1493, when the King ordered the separation of Jewish children from their parents. Seven hundred children were sent to the newly discovered island of Sao Tome, off west coast of Africa. In 1993, descendants of those children held a ceremony commemorating the event.
Expulsion from Portugal
Following King Joao’s death in 1494, Manuel I ascended to the throne and restored the Jews’ freedom. His legitimacy as heir to the throne was challenged, so he decided to solidify his position by marrying Princess Isabel of Spain. Isabel told Manuel that she would only marry him if he expelled the Jews. Their marriage contract was signed on November 30, 1496, and, five days later, he issued a decree forcing all Jews to leave Portugal by October 1497.
Manuel was never content with his decision, mainly because he appreciated the economic value of the Jews to the country. To make it more difficult for Jews to leave, he made Lisbon the only viable port of exit. He also tried to convert as many Jews to Christianity as he could to keep them in Portugal.
On March 19, 1497 (the first day of Passover), Jewish parents were ordered to take their children, between the ages of four and fourteen, to Lisbon. Upon arrival, the parents were informed that their children were going to be taken away from them and were to be given to Catholic families to be raised as good Catholics. Children were literally torn from their parents and others were smothered, some parents chose to kill themselves and their kids rather than be separated. After awhile, some parents agreed to be baptized, along with their children, while others succumbed and handed over their babies.
In October 1497, about 20,000 Jews came to Lisbon to prepare for departure to other lands. They were herded into the courtyard of Os estaos, a palace and were approached by priests trying to convert them. Some capitulated, while the rest waited around until the time of departure had passed. Those who did not convert were told they forfeited their freedom and would become slaves. More succumbed. Finally the rest were sprinkled with baptismal waters and were declared "New Christians."
While many of the New Christians accepted their religion, many chose to continue practicing Judaism behind closed doors, while publicly practicing Catholic rituals; they became known as Marranos or crypto-Jews. The Portuguese majority still considered the "New Christians" Jews, despite their outward affiliation with Christianity. Claims against the Marranos were presented to the King, along with a list of crypto-Jews.
In 1506, 3,000 "New Christians" were massacred in Lisbon. Afterward, King Manuel executed 45 of the main culprits who had incited the mob. Popular support for a Portuguese Inquisition surfaced in 1531, when many Christians blamed the New Christians for the recent earthquake. Pope Clement VII authorized the Inquisition and the first auto-da-fe (trial) took place in Lisbon on September 20, 1540.
The right to seize and confiscate the property of the accused led to the arrest of every prominent "New Christian" family. Once arrested, death was only escaped if one admitted to Judaizing and implicated friends and family. Other sentences included public admission of the alleged sins, the obligatory wearing of a special penitential habit and burning at the stake. Urged by greed, eventually even genuine Christians were martyred.
Attempting to evade the Inquisition, many Portuguese Marrano families fled to Amsterdam, Salonika and other places across the Old and New worlds. In 1654, 23 Portuguese Jews arrived in New Amsterdam (New York) and became the first Jewish settlers in the United States. The stream of refugees did not stop until the end of the Inquisition in the late 18th century. The last public auto-da-fe took place
in 1765; however, the Inquisition was not formally disbanded until after the liberal revolt in 1821.