AACI Spain and Portugal   

04 November 2018 - 15 November 2018
Locations: Alpalhao, Avila, Belmonte, Coimbra, Guarda, Hervas, Lisbon, Madrid, Porto, Segovia, Toma


Following the route of Sephardic Jewry

From the Golden Age of Discovery to the Inquisition, Portuguese and Spanish Jewry went from the heights of wealth and success to the depths of anguish and despair. The history of Iberian Jewry is like that of many other places, where success and sadness go hand-in-hand. Along forgotten alleys and streets, remnants remain of the rich Jewish life. Sparks of the past can be found in the remote mountain villages, where some of the last remaining ‘Converso’ communities can still be found practicing Jewish rituals behind closed doors.

Day 1, Sunday 04/11/18: Tel Aviv-Madrid
Depart Tel Aviv to arrive in Madrid at 09:55.  Our day begins with some of the most important avenues and squares of the capital city of Spain. In the context of Jewish history, we will concentrate in particular on the Medieval city where we will discover streets and alleys related to the history of the Conversos and the Inquisition.

Continue to the fabulous Prado museum, which houses masterpieces by Goya, Velasquez, Rubens and Bosch.

End at the Buen Retiro Park, the “Central Park” of Madrid. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park. It’s a magnificent park, filled with beautiful sculpture and monuments, galleries, and a peaceful lake.

Dinner and overnight in Madrid

Day 2, Monday 05/11/18: Madrid-Avila-Madrid
After breakfast, we continue to Avila. Our first impression of the city will be the great medieval wall that surrounds it. We will stop to take a closer look—and find many Jewish secrets hidden inside. Our tour will take us to the remains of a synagogue and the 14th-century Jewish-run tannery, the most important in Spain at that time. We will walk through the Moshe de Leon Garden, and hear about the composer or redactor of the Zohar and the story of how the book became known to the Jewish world, and why there is a controversy surrounding its true source.

We will see the museum, built on the site where Santa Teresa de Jesus was born. Daughter of Jewish Conversos, she joined a convent at the age of 20 and later founded the Discalced Carmelite Order. She is Spain’s most important female saint and one of its prime literary figures as well.  As Jewish roots can be found everywhere in Spain, we will hear how she was influenced by the Kabbalah.
We return to Madrid for dinner.

Dinner and overnight in Madrid

Day 3, Tuesday 06/11/18: Madrid-Segovia-Hervas
After breakfast we will drive towards the city of Segovia. We start our visit at what was once the Synagogue to see the remains. We continue to the Jewish Information Center, located in the house of Abraham Senior, the Jewish confidant and advisor to Queen Isabella. We will attend a workshop about Jewish Segovia, and discuss the lives of Abraham Senior and Isaac Abarbanel, who led the Jewish community at the time of the Expulsion. Our next stop is the extensive Jewish quarter, to see the amazingly well-preserved thousand-year-old Jewish cemetery.

Towards the evening, we will arrive at the village of Hervas, on the edge of the river Ambroz, some of whose inhabitants are direct descendants of the Conversos. We will visit the village and its Jewish Quarter.
In the evening, we will take part in a moving musical tour of the village with a band playing Spanish Jewish music (ladino songs).
Dinner and overnight in Hervas.

Day 4, Wednesday 07/11/18: Hervas-Caceres-Alpalhao
Bidding farewell to Hervas in the morning, we will continue to the city of Caceres, considered the best preserved medieval city in Europe, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We will see the town’s sites including the Caceres Plaza Mayor square, Ovando palace, Golfines Palace and the Jewish Quarter both within and outside the barrier walls. We relive the experience of the Jewish community with an interesting and interactive lecture. In the afternoon we will cross the border to Portugal towards Alpalhao.

Dinner and overnight in Alpalhao

Day 5, Thursday 08/11/18: Castelo da Vide-Trancoso-Belmonte
Today we will travel to the town of Castelo de Vide, near the border with Spain, whose inhabitants are descendants of the Conversos of Portugal and still preserve Jewish customs from the distant past. We will explore the winding alleys of the town and visit the ancient Jewish Quarter. We will meet with a descendant of Conversos in the city.

We continue to Trancoso and tour the Jewish Quarter, discovering the special symbols carved on walls and learning about the activities being carried out for the preservation of Jewish heritage in the town. Continue to Belmonte and check into our hotel.

Dinner and overnight in Belmonte

Day 6, Friday 09/11/18: Belmonte-Guarda-Porto
Our morning tour of Belmonte will include the Medieval Castle and the Jewish Quarter which was situated outside the castle walls. We will see the houses with crosses engraved in the stone close to the doors. These were inhabited by “New Christians”, who were forcibly baptized and publicly followed Catholic rituals, but in the privacy of their own homes, maintained their Jewish religion. We will visit the Jewish Museum and Synagogue.

Continue with a tour of Guarda, including the city walls, the keep, the Torre dos Ferreiros  (the Blacksmith’s Tower), and the old Jewish quarter which are reminders of the period of great splendor enjoyed by the city of Guarda in the middle ages. Jews first began to settle here in the middle of’ the 13th century in the area next to the wall, close to the Porta d’el Rei and the high street (Corredoura). A large gate at the spot known as Quatro Quinas marked the limits of the quarter; its inhabitants were mainly traders and craftsmen.

We continue on beautiful mountain roads and reach Porto. We will prepare for Shabbat and enjoy services at the “Makor Hayim” synagogue.

Shabbat Dinner and overnight in Porto

Day 7, Shabbat 10/11/18: Porto

Enjoy tefillah and Shabbat lunch, including meeting members of the local community.

On Shabbat afternoon there will be a walking tour, and a lecture about Captain Barros Bastos – considered the Portuguese Dreyfuss.

Dinner and overnight in Porto

Day 8, Sunday 11/11/18: Porto-coimbra
In the morning, we will view the city via a Douro River cruise, and see the sites from the water and view the beautiful bridges.

From Porto, we head towards the university city of Coimbra, the second capital of Portugal located on the banks of the River Mondego. Our visit to the city includes the Juderia, dating back to 1139, and the UNESCO World Heritage University complex.

Dinner and overnight in Coimbra

Day 9, Monday 12/11/18: Coimbra-Tomar-Lisbon
This morning we drive towards to the charming Old Town of Tomar, one of the most famous Templar sites in the world. We will visit and admire the amazing architecture of the ancient fortified monastery which has made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with important Jewish history, including the Abraham Zakuto Synagogue. Abraham Zakuto was a Jewish astronomer and geographer, and one of the most important figures in the history of science.

At the end of the tour we will travel to the capital of Portugal, Lisbon – the largest city in the country.

Dinner and overnight in Lisbon

Day 10, Tuesday 13/11/18:  Lisbon
We start the morning with a panoramic tour of the city. We will visit Marques de Pombal Square, named after Marquês de Pombal who oversaw the area’s rebuilding after the Great Earthquake of 1755; and the northern part of Liberdade Avenue and Rossio Square, where the Estaus Palace, the seat of the Inquisition, is situated.

Continue to the Rua da Juderia, in Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest Jewish quarter with its narrow cobbled streets, and Praça do Comércio along the old part of the harbor, site of one of the oldest synagogues in Lisbon. We will see Ohel Yaakov Synagogue – now home of the Bnei Anusim community.

Drive out to the Belem district and visit the Belem Tower, the city’s landmark, built in the early 1500s and declared a World Heritage monument by UNESCO.   We will see the monument that is dedicated to the Explorers.

Tonight we will enjoy a typical “Fado Show”. Although the origins are difficult to trace, today Fado is commonly regarded as simply a form of song which can be about anything, but must follow a certain traditional structure.  This music defines the Portuguese, their culture, and their very existence.

Dinner and overnight in Lisbon

Day 11, Wednesday 14/11/18: Lisbon-Evora-Lisbon
In the morning, we visit Evora, a  delightful city that exudes Portuguese charm and boasts a vast array of fascinating historical monuments. Evora was historically a major trading and religious center, a former importance that is reflected in the sheer variety of tourist sites, all of which are conveniently contained within the city’s ancient walls. Evora should not be mistaken for a sleepy old relic that is reliant upon its glorious past, the city is young and vibrant, with a large student population who attend one of the world’s oldest universities.

Return to Lisbon.

Dinner and overnight in Lisbon

Day 12, Thursday 15/11/18: Lisbon-Tel Aviv
After breakfast we make our way to the airport for our flight home via Madrid, arriving in Tel Aviv at 21:55 (9:55pm).

AACI members 3675 Euro per person in a double room                                                   Currency Converter
Non- AACI members 3725 Euro per person in a double room
Single supplement 450 Euro

 Price Includes:

  • Round trip flights on Air Iberia  from Israel
  • 11 night’s hotels accommodation
  • Kosher Meals: daily breakfasts in hotels + lunch boxes. Dinners in kosher restaurants. 2 fish dinner in hotel.
  • Transportation in air-conditioned coach as per itinerary
  • Local guides for the excursions and visits as per program including all entrance fees
  • Israeli English-speaking tour leader
  • Porterage at hotels and all tips
  • 2 shows-Ladino and Fadp
  • Water on bus
  • Individual wireless headphones
  • AACI staff escort

Not included:

  • Any items of a personal nature
  • Any other items not mentioned as included
  • Travel/Medical insurance

 IB3317 04NOV TLV-MAD 05:30- 09:55
IB3109 15NOV LIS-MAD 12:35- 14:55
IB3316 15NOV MAD-TLV 16:10- 21:55

Spain and Portugal Registration Form 2018 (002)

For reservations please contact your local Ophir Tours branch: