The Jewish Lisbon

Wed, 13.03.2019

Keeping in mind the Jewish History in Lisbon

On the 13th of March our Portuguese language school organized a walking tour about the Jewish presence in Lisbon.

Indira Leão, our history teacher, guided during this sunny afternoon. We started in Teatro D. Maria II. Before being a theatre it was the Palácio dos Estaus, built in 1449 to host noble families. In 1571 the palace was used as the edge of the Inquisition in Lisbon. The Inquisition was a religious court controlled by the Jesuits and had the main purpose of persecute and condemn all the Jews.

In Largo de São Domingos there was a slaughter against the Jews and the New Christians (Jews converted to Catholicism). During the 19th of April 1506 until the 21st of April more than 2000 New Christians were burned by an angry group of catholic people.

Then, we walked by the streets of Baixa. Here, it was created a big Jewish community called Grande Judiaria. The synagogue of Grande Judiaria was built in 1260 in the area where is located Armazéns do Chiado. The Grande Judiaria was created with the approval of the Portuguese king D. Pedro I. He issued a law that forced the Jews to live in their own community, away from the catholic society.  The Grande Judiaria was a more developed area in Lisbon compared with the catholic area. They had their own hospitals, schools, library and courts.

The Igreja da Conceição Velha, before being a catholic church it was a synagogue. The synagogue had to close after 1496 and become a church in 1498.

We finished in Rua da Judiaria, Alfama. In this street it was located the Pequena Judiaria, a smaller Jewish community.

After the tour we socialized in a nice esplanade.

Check out our photos below.


A walking tour about the Jewish presence in Lisbon

The Jewish presence in the Portuguese territory goes back to the Roman Empire. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD forced Jews to find a home in the Iberian Peninsula. Since that time, the Jews remained in Portugal. During the Medieval age, they were tolerated by the Portuguese society and some of them had prominence next to king. Unfortunately, the tolerance to the Jews finished in 1492 when it was decreed the Jewish expulsion from Spain. You’ll learn more about this topic on the 13th of March.

Our history teacher, Indira Leão, will guide us. We’ll start in Teatro D. Maria II. The edge of the Inquisition in Lisbon was located here. The religious court of Inquisition was created to persecute and condemn all the Jews and new-Christians. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, they moved to Portugal and were forced to convert to Catholicism. The converted Jews were known as new-Christians.

Next to Teatro D. Maria II we have Largo de São Domingos. This square was a stage of a horrible massacre against the new-Christians in April 1506. More than two thousand new-Christians were victims of intolerance and religious fanaticism on this site.

In the area of Baixa there was the Judiaria Grande. It was a place where the Jews and new-Christians had an economic role in the city. The main trade centre of Lisbon was energized by the Jewish people. Alfama was Pequena Judiaria, a more modest concentration zone of Jews during the 16th century. After the Christian conquest of Lisbon in 1147, the Jews were kept in Alfama segregated from the Christian population.

We’ll end the walking tour in a cosy esplanade.

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