jewish barcelona tripI finished my conference and post conference study trip in Granada. October 7 I flew on Vueling airline to Barcelona. Unfortunately Vueling cancelled flight and rebooked me 3 hours later so my 2 days visit was reduced for 3 hours.

In Barcelona airport, my guide Laurie has been waiting for me. I work with Laurie for many years, he was born in Jerusalem, lived in London, India and somewhere else, he is professional photographer and like me, has passion for Jewish Heritage. So I relied on his efficiency.. Laurie had made appointment at synagogue for me, however, because of flight delay, he people in synagogue left after 3pm (it was Sunday). We still drove to Call (Jewish district) and tried our luck since lady in the synagogue did not answer phone. But alas, it was closed. I had to take photos of it outside. That attracted attention some Jewish tourists who were wondering on the street looking for synagogue – they asked if this is the one. Because, it does not have sign, probably for security purposes. Laurie confirmed it was indeed a place for synagogue and they need to make appointment to visit it.

History of Jews in Catalonia.

Catalonia is not limited to Barcelona only, but area in Spain from Barcelona to French border and beyond in France. The presence of Jews in Catalonia goes back 11 century with a mention of the street “solebat ire ad calem judaicim”, The word “call” means narrow street or alley. The Jewish population of Catalonia has been documented in more than sixty towns, in Old Catalonia – Barcelona and Girona, and new Catalonia – Tarragona, Lleida and Tortosa. The community was called “aljama” – the name of Arabic origin means congregation. In Barcelona, they lived in Montjustic and Call. The community played important role in development of Catalonia. The Jews served a doctors from Hebrew medical school, and translated from Arabic, along with work of other Jews who were philosophers, astronomers, thinkers. For example, well known Moshe Ben Nahman from Girona – the leader of mystical trends linked to Kabbalah.

There is a reference to historical Kingdom of Edom, located to the south of Israel, a name which the Talmud and many thinkers would apply later to Roman empire. The name sepharad came later, in 16-17c in Iberian peninsula.

In 1341 Black death arrived  to Catalonia, many people died, as again Jews were blamed and it lead to 1391 after pogrom , which caused  some Jews left, some converted. More Jews left after 1492 expulsion of Ferdinand and Isabella which caused downfall of community. They scattered around Mediterranean region. We create different itineraries in Spain (Catalonia and Beyond) and Southern France for tourists interested in these routes – rom Barcelona to Manresa, Vic, Berga, or West Catalan – Lleida to Santa Coloma de Querlat… Excellent museum is in Call of Girona. The history of Besalu is marked by the existence of many renowned doctors, such as Abraham de Castlar who served as personal doctor to Peter the IV of Aragon.

The discovery of the Mikveh in 1964, and remains of the synagogue bear testimony of Jewish Heritage in Besalu. In my next report I will talk about Languedoc Rossilion .

So we visited Call, had nice meal with tapas there. We went to see Gaudi sites – Music Palace, Casa Mila Pedeira and went to Park Guell. I do not want to repeat since everybody knows Gaudi, he is one of my favorite architects and I cannot get enough of it. I am envious of Laurie who lives in city surrounded by such treasures. I think photos say themselves without any words. I can just say it is amazing that Casa Pedeira does not have any straight lines!

After Park Guell we went to my hotel Le Meridien. On the way back Laurie stopped the car so I can take some photos of Sagrada Familia  –  was not possible to park close… I got out and did some photos.
We came to my hotel and I checked in, Laurie gave me an hour to refresh.

We continued with taking photos and strolling in evening Barcelona – the tour which Laurie specializing in – evening photography. Below are some more amazing pictures Laurie took of me. We went to local res
taurant for Paella and finished day. I went back to hotel and almost collapsed in the bed. Next time, as I always tell myself, I will spend a week there and enjoy it at leisure but such as life!

Next day, Laurie came to hotel at 9am for long day along touring Catalonia towards France. We visited Girona and Besalu. Unfortunately Dali Museum was closed in Figuires on Monday, so again, next time. Laurie got me on time to Perpignan across French Border so I had to catch train to Montpellier for my next part of the trip – Study trip of Languedoc – Rossilion region.

Perpignan was the capital of the former province and county of Roussillon (Rosselló in Catalan), also known as Northern Catalonia, and continental capital of the Kingdom of Majorca in the 13th and 14th centuries. Menachem Meiri  (1249–c.

saying that he always got his best ideas sitting in the waiting room. He followed that up some years later by declaring that the Iberian Peninsula rotated precisely at Perpignan station 132 million years ago – an event the artist invoked in his 1983 painting “Topological Abduction of Europe – Homage to Rene Tom”  .
Above the station is a monument in Dali’s honor, and in front of it was painted his famous words, “Centre Du Monde” (Center of the World). Well I love Dali’s work but surrealism here was a bit too much – let’s be practical – for Center of the World they could have spend a bit more money to make it at least a live up to it’s reputation! I was thankful to Laurie who brought my large suitcase on stairs – no escalator to my train’s platform. We kissed goodbye, Laurie ran to his car parked with emergency lights and I waited for train which came in about 10 minutes. More later in my France trip report!

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