Jewish Heritage in Portugal

Day 1: Full day in Lisbon (and Sintra) Early in the morning we will start our day with a visit to the Synagogue of Lisbon. With its hidden façade (because of..

Day 1: Full day in Lisbon (and Sintra)

Early in the morning we will start our day with a visit to the Synagogue of Lisbon. With its hidden façade (because of the strict rules that were imposed on the Jewish buildings in the past) it still is the meeting point of the Jewish community of Lisbon. After the guided visit to the Synagogue we will start the visit of the Portuguese capital. This first day allows you to discover Lisbon colonized by many civilizations along the centuries: Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors and finally the Portuguese after 1147. We will visit St. George Castle , including its surrounding quarter and Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest quarter. Close to Alfama you will also visit the Judiaria (Jewish Quarter) of Lisbon with its narrow streets and small houses where the Jewish population used to live. In the central area of the city you will also find the Jewish presence in the Commerce Square, where thousands of Jews were baptized against their own will. This city is also linked with the heroic deeds of the Portuguese maritime exploration, in the 15th and 16th centuries. This was the Age of Discoveries and the Golden Era of Portugal, transforming Lisbon into the opulent centre of a vast empire. Part of the wealth from these expeditions was used to build magnificent monuments in a unique Portuguese style: the extravagant Manueline architectural style, best typified in Jerónimos Monastery. Some of these monuments can still be seen, especially in the area of Belém. But Lisbon has more than just monuments! We may visit also the traditional commerce zones of the city, with their 18th century buildings: the Downtown and the Chiado. There are senses that can only be felt in Lisbon. No one remains indifferent to its temperate climate, the characteristic sunlight and the excellent meals you can have here.
Option 1: If you wish to do so, there is the possibility of organizing a celebration with the Jewish community of Lisbon in the Synagogue, which will change the visit of the city to the afternoon. Option 2: If a short visit to the Synagogue is enough for you, then we should head to Sintra and the Coast of Estoril in the afternoon.

Accommodation Suggestion in Lisbon: Pestana Palace Hotel & National Monument

Day 2: Departure to Óbidos, Batalha, Tomar and overnight in Lousã

Today we will head to the North of the country and the first town on our way is Óbidos. This medieval town still preserves the atmosphere of the centuries that passed by it. The old castle walls, that enclose the white washed houses, are a symbol that the past is still present on the daily life of the city. A short walk on the narrow cobbled streets, where small shops offer the “Ginjinha” (cherry liquor) will be the perfect beginning of the day. After leaving Óbidos behind the next stop is Batalha, considered World Heritage by UNESCO, mostly because of it’s gothic monastery. Once we’re inside we’ll enter the Founder’s Chapel, where some of the most important Portuguese Kings are buried. John I, Alfonso V, John II and the famous prince Henry the Navigator, who hired the best Jewish cartographers, geographers and mathematicians of the 1400’s to initiate the Portuguese Golden Age of the Discoveries. The afternoon will be spent in the city of Tomar, where one of the most important Synagogues of Portugal is located. Inside the Jewish Museum Abraham Zacuto will allow you to understand the importance of the Jewish population in this city. On the top of the hill it’s located theConvent of Christ, World Heritage by UNESCO, which is the bastion of one of the most important religious orders in Portugal: the Order of Christ. At the end of the day we will go all the way to Lousãwhere you will have your overnight stay.

Accommodation Suggestion in Lousã: Palacio da Lousã Boutique Hotel

Day 3: Visit to Coimbra and Buçaco and departure to Amarante

The third day of the itinerary will take us to the city of the students: Coimbra. With one of oldest universities in Europe, Coimbra has been standing out as a centre of knowledge and Portuguese culture in the past seven centuries. A visit to the old University (still working) will give you a general perspective of the teaching system in Portugal as well as an insightful approach to the influence that the Jewish population had in the Portuguese educational system. The lunch break will be one of the highlights of the day since it will be held on the Buçaco Palace Hotel, a former monastery, in the middle of the exuberant forest of Buçaco. After lunch and a short walk in the forest, we will head toAmarante, on the north of Portugal. The arrival at Amarante, still with the sunlight, will allow us to go for a walk in the historical centre of this charming town before retiring for a relaxing evening in the hotel.

Accommodation Suggestion in Amarante: Casa da Calçada

Day 4: Visit of Porto and return to Amarante

This day will be spent on the capital of the North, Porto, which historical centre is considered World Heritage by the UNESCO. After a short panoramic tour of Porto, we will start walking down theJudiaria (Jewry) of Porto discovering the secret past of the Jewish community of this city that will be completed after a visit to the Sinagogue of Porto.This pathway will lead us to Ribeira, the Waterfront, the most characteristic neighbourhood of Porto where the old houses with their colourful façades still remind us of the poor fishermen and sailors that once lived there. In the afternoon we are awaited at the Taylor’s wine cellar ( for a visit of their amazing wine ageing facilities and a taste of a Kosher Port Wine, the only one made in the World! After the visit it is time then to return no Amarante not only to explore this charming city a little more, but also to enjoy all the facilities of this wonderful Relais & Chateaux hotel.

Accommodation Suggestion (Amarante): Casa da Calçada – Relais & Chateaux

(Optional extra day) Amarante, Guimarães, Braga, Ponte de Lima and Viana do Castelo

This optional day will give you the opportunity to explore some of the most interesting cities in the north of Portugal: Guimarães, Braga, Ponte de Lima and Viana do Castelo. It is considered an optional since there’s nothing specific in these cities related to the Jewish presence in Portugal. The first stop of the day will be in Guimarães, birthplace of the Portuguese Nation, from where the first King of Portugal departed towards the south fighting the Moorish enemies. From Guimarães we will continue towards Braga, the religious capital of Portugal, with the oldest Cathedral in the country and the unique presence of the baroque architecture in the Sanctuary of “Bom Jesus do Monte”. The afternoon will arrive as we approach Ponte de Lima, on the banks of the small river Lima, where an old roman bridge and adjacent town square are still the centre of the city’s daily life. Last but not least we will visit Viana do Castelo, one of the most important Portuguese harbours in the past. From Viana many Portuguese boats sailed to the Newfoundland in search of the national dish: codfish! The sanctuary of Santa Luzia, on the top of the mountain, is one of the most glorious sightseeing points in Portugal. At the end of the day we will return to Amarante where we will rest preparing ourselves for the next day to come.
Accommodation Suggestion (Amarante): Casa da Calçada – Relais & Chateaux

Day 5: Departure to Vila Real, Régua (Port Wine), Viseu, Guarda and overnight in Belmonte

Today we’ll take you, during the morning, on a visit to one of the most wonderful baroque Palaces in Portugal , the Mateus Manor House, which façade was immortalized by the label of one of the most famous Portuguese wines: the Mateus Rose. The day will continue towards the town of Régua, where you will have the opportunity to taste the worldwide famous Port Wine and see how it’s produced nowadays. The day will continue towards south but first we should not miss Viseu with its cathedral and medieval neighbourhood. Since the lunch break will be here, we suggest you to try the famous“Alheira”, a special sausage invented by the Jewish population that doesn’t include the forbidden meat. On our way to Belmonte we will still have time to visit the city the highest city in Portugal:Guarda with it’s gothic cathedral and well preserved Jewry. The arrival at Belmonte, on the day before Sabbath will allow you to enjoy this special day in the most active Jewish community of Portugal.

Accommodation Suggestion in Belmonte: Pousada do Convento de Belmonte

Day 6: Belmonte (Sabbath) and Sortelha

On the Sabbath you will have the opportunity to relax or participate in some of the religious activities that always take place in Belmonte or just enjoy the silence of the mountains that once inspired thousands of Jews that decided to settle in this region. Belmonte is in fact one of the best places in Portugal to understand the secrets and mysteries of a Jewish community that had to live in secret for centuries. This small Jewish community is the most active Jewish centre of Portugal and still preserves some of the old traditions that allowed them to practice the Jewish religion in secret. If you don’t mind touring on Sabbath we can take you to the little, but yet charming, little town of Sortelha, just a few minutes away from Belmonte that still preserves all the characteristics of the old and sometimes forgotten Portugal.

Accommodation Suggestion in Belmonte: Pousada do Convento de Belmonte

Day 7: Castelo de Vide, Marvão, Évora and return to Lisbon

After such a relaxing day in Belmonte it is time to explore the South of Portugal: the Alentejo. Leaving Belmonte early in the morning we will stop for a visit in Castelo de Vide. Located on the top of the São Mamede Mountain Castelo de Vide still preserves it’s old Castle, Jewry and one of oldest and most important Synagogues of Portugal. Just a few minutes away from Castelo de Vide you will find the imposing Marvão castle that in the past bravely defended the Portuguese independence from the Spanish invaders. During the afternoon we will depart to Évora, the most important and monumental city of the Alentejo region considered World Heritage by UNESCO. Évora is the perfect opportunity to understand how Moorish influence is still present on the daily life in Alentejo. Besides that, the Chapel of the Bone’s, the Giraldo Square , the Roman Temple and the University are just some of the places that you will visit in Évora. Don’t forget to try some of the Alentejo gastronomy, which is based on bread, olive oil and aromatic herbs, but still one of the most delicious in the country. At the end of the day we will return to Lisbon where you will rest before your flight back home.

Accommodation Suggestion in Lisbon: Pestana Palace Hotel & National Monument

Day 8: Hotel check-out and Transfer to the airport included.

Note: As in all our programs, we can customize this itinerary to your wishes, as well as reorganize the number of days to the time you have available.
Optional days: relax in the Algarve

If you have more than eight days to spend in Portugal than the Algarve is the perfect place for you to relax before returning back home. This seaside resort is worldwide famous due to its incredible beaches and exquisite golf courses where the sun shines brightly during more than three thousand hours a year.

End of Tour

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