AACI Spain and Gibraltar Following the routes of the Sephardic Jews
15 November 2017 - 23 November 2017
Locations: Carmona, Gibraltar, Granada, Madrid, Seville, Toledo
Southern Spain – Andalusia, a region of contrasts, visiting its five historical cities, and the dynamic capital of Madrid. We will experience a creative journey full of fascinating moments with Jewish Heritage connections which will enrich our souls as we tour this enchanting region.
We will be captivated by its culture as we enjoy a flamenco and a night tour of illuminated Madrid.
No visit to Southern Spain would be complete without visiting the Rock of Gibraltar as well as spending a majestic Shabbat on this stunning island.
DAY 1 – Wednesday, November 15: Flight to Madrid
Upon arrival we will drive to Toledo directly from Madrid’s Barajas airport, some 90 kilometers away.
When you see the old walled city of Toledo, you understand why its Jewish residents called it the “Jerusalem of the West.”
The former Judería is in the southwest, near the gate known today as the Cambron Gate but once called “Bab al Yahud.” Ten of Toledo’s synagogues are reported to have been destroyed in 1391, but remarkably, two survived. They had been converted to churches and are known today as Santa Maria La Blanca and El Transito.
El Transito houses the Sephardi Museum. The central hall is the quite spectacular synagogue itself. The sculpted plaster decorations all round and the Hebrew inscriptions along the walls testify to a wealthy Jewish community. Maria La Blanca, just down the road, is very different but equally impressive.
In Toledo’s Cathedral, there is a plaque triumphantly describing the great achievement of los reyes Catolicos – the expulsion of the Jews — in terms of nothing less than undiminished pride. This plaque is simply one more indication, if any need be sought, of how differently Jews and Catholics regard this event. In the West (except for Spain) Isabella and Ferdinand are regarded as fanatic and intolerant despots, and the Inquisition as a sort of precursor to the Holocaust. In Spain, Isabella and Ferdinand are regarded as heroes, and spoken of with unbridled admiration to this day.
Day 2 – Thursday, 16 November: Toledo-Seville
It was from Seville that the fanatic Dominican friars spread their hate through Spain, pillaging and murdering those whose only crime was their loyalty to the religion of their ancestors. From Seville, too, the merciless arm of the Inquisition struck down the recent converts to the religion of their tormentors, torturing them and confiscating their property to build ever more resplendent palaces for the clerical orders whose members had piously undertaken vows of poverty.
Seville’s enormous cathedral, with its imposing Moorish Geralda tower and tacky cenotaph to Columbus, is a testament to the terrifying power of Church and Crown in Spain. To Seville flowed the enormous wealth (“all the silver in Potosí”) plundered by the Spanish conquistadores from the unfortunate natives of America. The tobacco factory made famous by Bizet’s Carmen is here too, and today is a university. Seville’s former riches are apparent everywhere.
Like the other Andalusian cities, Seville has its Judería, parts of which are the most exclusive areas of the city. There is a Calle de los Judios. In the north of the Judería stands the Church of Santa Maria La Blanca, built on the site of a synagogue, as mentioned above. There is a small Jewish community, mostly immigrants from South America.
Overnight in Carmona.
Day 3 – Friday, 17 November: Carmona – Gibraltar
Gibraltar, a 4-5 hour drive from Granada along the Costa del Sol, is home to a flourishing Jewish community of some 600 people (out of some 40,000 Gibraltans), with four active synagogues (all Orthodox), several kosher groceries and a kosher restaurant. We will spend a very pleasant Shabbat with the locale community here as well as visiting Gibraltar’s main tourist attraction a trip up to the top of the rock.
Gibraltar’s Jews arrived after Britain took “the rock” from Spain in the early eighteenth century. One of the Spain’s treaty conditions was that no Jews be allowed to live there, but Britain ignored this clause and allowed Jewish merchants from Morocco to enter the colony and establish what eventually became today’s Jewish community.
Check in the hotel – preparation for Shabbat and walk to the Jewish Community to celebrate Shabbat.
Dinner and overnight.
Day 4 – Shabbat, 18 November: Gibraltar. After tefillot and a Shabbat Seudah we will take a walking tour of the small town of Gibraltar.
Day 5 – Sunday, 19 November: Gibraltar- Granada
Before leaving Gibraltar, we will drive to the famous Rock of Gibraltar and then we will proceed to Granada.
We will drive along the famous Costa del Sol and we will stop in Marbella and Teremolinos.
Granada was the last Muslim city conquered by the Christian kings, some 250 years after they conquered other important cities in Andalusia (Córdoba and Seville). If there is one sight in Spain that is an absolute “must see,” it is the Alhambra Palace. It cannot be described. It must be seen to be understood. Nowhere in Spain is the contrast between Moor’s and Christian’s so striking.
The Fountain of the Lions was donated to the Muslim King by the Jewish community shortly before the city’s conquest in 1492. It was in the Alhambra that the Edict of Expulsion was signed. Here Rabbi Isaac Abravenel pleaded in vain with Ferdinand and Isabella to rescind the edict, and here, just a few months later, Christopher Columbus was granted the charter to set off across the Atlantic in search of India. A grandiose statue in the town below the Alhambra commemorates this event.
Day 6 – Monday, 20 November: Granada- Cordoba
In the morning we will visit the Alhambra and General life and then drive to Cordoba for a visit including the Casa de Sfarad.
Córdoba is the best-preserved of Spain’s Moorish cities. In fact, much of its Roman wall is still standing. Its historic center has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. The narrow medieval streets of the Barrio de la Judería retain their names to this day. In the Calle de los Judios stands the Maimonides (רמב”ם) synagogue, built a hundred years after the great scholar’s death in Egypt, and named for him in commemoration of the fact that he was born only a few doors down the street. The meaning of the synagogue’s cryptic inscriptions remains a mystery.
A statue of Maimonides stands just down the street, in front of the house where he is said to have been born, the most famous son of a city whose streets are lined with orange trees. There isn’t a word on the commemorative plaque explaining why Maimonides’ family left Córdoba; they were in fact fleeing the Almohad dynasty that forcibly imposed Islam on the city’s Jews and Christians.
Adjacent to the Judería is Córdoba’s most spectacular sight — the Mosque. Though formally a cathedral, the Mesquita is an imposing monument of Islamic Spain, second only to the Alhambra in Granada, and illustrates many of the differences between the Islamic and Christian world views. As a mosque, the building opened into a huge courtyard of orange trees. The Christians sealed the many exits to the courtyard and transformed the light and airy mosque into a dark and gloomy place.
You can spend a long time wandering among the more than eight hundred pillars — literally a forest of colored marble — that grace the enormous hall.
Day 7 – Tuesday, 21 November – Cordoba – Ciudad Real – Madrid
This morning we will continue our visit to Cordoba before traveling north to Ciudad Real:
Ciudad Real, capital of the former province of La Mancha (now the province of Ciudad Real) in New Castile, was founded by King Alfonso X The Wise in 1255 to fight the military order of Calatrava. We will view some of the four kilometers of walls and one hundred and thirty towers that were erected during this period, to protect a population made up of Christians, Muslims and Jews.
After the unification of the Iberian kingdoms under the Catholic Monarchs, Ciudad Real became the capital of the province of La Mancha in 1691. This fact favored its economic development which was shown by the construction of several important buildings. In 1755, however, an earthquake centered in Lisbon destroyed many of these buildings. In 1809, during the Peninsular War, French troops defeated their Spanish counterparts and occupied the city, using the local hospital as their headquarters and barracks Among its first inhabitants were Jews as well as Moors, the former of whom, chiefly from the neighboring Alarcos, settled in such numbers that as early as 1290 the Jewry paid 26,486 maravedis in taxes, a sum larger than that paid by all the other inhabitants together. Like the Moors, the Jews had their own quarter, apart from the Christians. The Jewish Quarter extended from the eastern part of the city, between the gates De la Mata and De Calatrava, along the wall to the west as far as the Calle de la Paloma or De Leganitos, as it is usually called.
After our bus tour of Ciudad Real, we will continue to Madrid arriving there in the evening
Day 8 – Wednesday, 22 November – Madrid
We start our day in Madrid with an in-depth tour. We begin with the fabulous Prado museum, which houses masterpieces by Goya, Velasquez, Rubens and Bosch. Our day continues with a visit to historic treasures of the Royal Palace (subject to closure for public ceremonies), which is truly one of the most beautiful Palaces in Europe. It is the official residence of the Royal family, but today they only use it for state ceremonies. The rest of the time it is open to the public. Otherwise known in Spanish as the Palacio Real, the Royal Palace was built during the 18th and 19th centuries, and is a monumental building.
After dinner we will go to a lively traditional Flamenco Show.
Day 9 – Thursday, 23 November: Madrid – Segovia – Tel Aviv
After breakfast we will drive towards the city of Segovia. We will start our visit at what was once the Synagogue. We will continue to the Jewish Information Center, located in the house of Abraham Senior, the Jewish confidant and advisor to Queen Isabella. Our next stop is the extensive Jewish quarter, to see the amazingly well-preserved thousand-year-old Jewish cemetery. In the afternoon we will return to Madrid for last minute shopping.
Dinner and transfer to the airport for our flight home to Tel Aviv
|Price: AACI members 3085 Euro per person in a double room Currency Converter
Non- AACI members 3135 Euro per person in a double room
Single supplement 720 Euro
- Hotel accommodation-:
- A/C coach as per itinerary.
- Local English speaking guides and entrance fees as mentioned in the itinerary
- Flamenco show ( entrance ticket+ 1 drink)
- International Flight with ELAL
- Water on bus
- Any items of a personal nature
- Any other items not mentioned as included
- Travel/Medical insurance
Wednesday LY 395 15 NOV LY 395 TLVMAD 0615 1050
Thursday LY 398 23 NOV LY 398 MADTLV 2315 0510 24 NOV
Spain and Gibraltar 2017 Registration Form 1 Spain and Gibraltar 2017 Insurance
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