Girona and Jewish history

Girona as we know it cannot be understood without the importance of the Jewish community. Although its imprint was highlighted in many European cities, in Girona it cannot be separated from the history of the city.

The Jewish communities, throughout the Middle Ages, had a decisive and historical contribution to the cultural and scientific development of the country and the city. Although its origins are not particularly clear, it seems that the first Jewish communities arrived at Girona in the 10th century. What does seem certain is that in the 11th century the Jewish communities were already settled, especially in Carrer de la Força (previously named Carrer de Sant Llorenç) and around the Cathedral.

The call of Girona (Jewish quarter) is not only one of the most relevant in Europe due to its importance, but also one of the best preserved in the peninsula: the most important buildings have been perfectly integrated into the city. Walking around the narrow stone streets is to go back to the city's Jewish past and get an idea of what life was like.

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If you want to know a little better Girona’s Jewish history and the most emblematic monuments, follow us!

The Jews settled in Girona between the 10th and 14th centuries. Its nerve center was, as we have said before, in the area known as the Jewish call, around the Cathedral, what is now Carrer de la Força. Thanks to their financial solvency, they acquired a lot of real estate in the city, many expropriated from Christians, which increased suspicion and helped create enmity between them. This hostility was fuelled by many other causes, mainly by the opposition of the church. On the other hand, the monarchs accepted their presence and offered them protection. Towards the end of the Jewish presence, before being expelled from the city of Girona, the pressure was so high that the Jews could not live outside the call and, if they left, they had to identify themselves with a red circle.

One of the most outstanding buildings of the Jewish legacy in Girona can be found in Carrer de la Força number 8, home to the Jewish History Museum. The building was called the Bonastruc ça Porta Center because it was owned by this very popular doctor and philosopher in Girona, who even has a street in Jerusalem. This museum introduces us to the Jewish community of Girona and its history, gastronomy, customs, etc. It contains the most important Hebrew lapidary collection in the Spanish state. The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Sundays and holidays when it closes at 3 p.m.

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Together with the Bonastruc ça Porta house, the Boschmonar house (at number 21 Carrer de la Força), is believed to be where the two synagogues that coexisted for a few years were located in the 14th century. They also served as schools, baths, and worship centers for the Jewish community.
Another of the monuments that can be visited is the fossar dels jueus (Jewish moat), an imaginary promenade of what was the Jewish cemetery and of which no remains are preserved. In the room you can see a luminous panel that shows the route that the funeral processions had to take from the call to the pit. There are also tombstones with epitaphs on display, one of the great jewels of the museum.

Finally, we cannot fail to recommend visiting the streets that form the Jewish quarter. Strolling through the alleys that surround the Cathedral, including Carrer de la Força, is to enter a meandering neighbourhood full of mystique and mystery. A place that was the epicenter of the Jewish community and in which details that transport us to that time are discovered on each walk. It is also a way to see how the heritage and history of the city are made up of different layers, and how they coexist with the modernity of life today.
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