Seville, the capital of Andalucía, the southern region of Spain, lies mostly along the right bank of the Guadalquivir river (from the arabic al wadi al-kvir –the big river-). The population of Seville is about 700,000 people with a very minimal Jewish presence nowadays; however, Seville once boosted the second largest Jewish population in all the Kingdom of Castile during the middle ages making it one of the most important sites for Jewish Heritage in Spain. It is also where the destruction of the Spanish Jewish communities began in June of 1391. The bloodshed of Seville was the first of many and within two months, they extended like wildfire all throughout Castile and Aragon, reaching even Girona (next to the border with France). These pogroms led to mass conversions and, eventually, to the expulsion in 1492.
The goal of this experience is to visit and learn about key sites related with the Jewish past of Sevilla and also to focus on all aspects of Judaism in Sevilla. As very little is actually left, due to the centuries of persecution and destruction, this is a virtual journey throughout the Jewish history of the city. We’ll visit the ghosts of sites related with the Jewish heritage, as well as some that still exist. Not in vain, Sevilla is the first city in Spain where the Jews returned back after 1860 and settled down again, creating the first Jewish community of Spain after the expulsion in 1492. In order to understand current Jewish life in Sevilla (and in all of Spain, for that matter!) we need to put into context past and present so therefore, during our walking tour, we’ll embark on an emotional journey where you will share, understand and enjoy the uniqueness of Jewish past and present-day life in Sevilla.
When there were hiccups in the itinerary; Catavino was nothing but gracious. They understood what our visit meant to us & offered us fantastic guides & activities. We ooh’ed & aah’ed, ate & drank almost too well (!) & we laughed for days. Deep thanks.
On this 4 hour tour, we’ll walk inside the former Jewish quarter of Seville to understand how our ancestors lived in Spain until they were expelled from Andalusia in 1483 and exiled from Spain in 1492. It’s possible to walk through the area which once was occupied by the Jewish Quarter and to see the remains of the Synagogues that were converted to churches after the bloodshed of 1391 (Santa María la Blanca and San Bartolomé). Moreover, there are some parts of the wall that once surrounded the Jewish Quarter which can be seen and even the remains of the Jewish cemetery from the XIII Century can be visited. The church of San Nicolás is also an important part of our journey. Here, we will learn about the blood libel of Santo Domingo del Val, a false accusation that Jews kidnapped and murdered a child in the city of Zaragoza in 1250 to use his blood as part of a religious ritual during Jewish holidays. Historically, these claims, alongside those of well poisoning and host desecration, have been a major theme in European persecution of the Jewish community.
Along your journey, you’ll also taste various traces to Andalucia’s rich Kosher past. Pescaito frito (fried fish) is an Andalusian staple, particularly along its coast. Legend says that it inspired English fish and chips, shipped with Spanish Jews in the 16th century. Pescaíto frito is also a traditional Shabbat dish and is popular amongst Andalusian Jews after synagogue on Saturday. You might also savor Polvo, a soft, crumbly Andalusian dessert contains flour, milk, sugar, olive oil and nuts. Following their introduction by the Arabs, the Spanish Inquisition demanded polvorones to only be made with pork fat – a way of exposing Jews and Muslims who were disguising themselves throughout the south of the country.
By the end of the tour, you will not only have a deeper understanding of Seville’s rich Jewish heritage, but you’ll also gain a new appreciation for Jewish-Andalucian cuisine.
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