Girona Jewish Quarter - History and Facts | History Hit

Girona Jewish Quarter

GRN, Catalonia, Spain

The Gerona Jewish Quarter is a warren of medieval streets and includes a Jewish history museum.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020

About Girona Jewish Quarter

The Girona Jewish Quarter (El Call) is said to be one of the world’s best preserved Jewish quarters, although it no longer has a Jewish population.

Girona Jewish Quarter history

The Jewish quarter, known as “El Call”, is one of the most emblematic areas in the city of Girona, due to its fascinating architecture and history. It is part of the old town next to the banks of the Onyar river.

The Jewish quarter dates back to the 12th century and is one of the most well-preserved Jewish quarters in Europe. Whilst Jews first arrived in Girona in the 9th century, it was between the 13th and 15th century that the community thrived. At this time, Girona’s Jewish Quarter was a hub of learning and the home of the rabbi Nahmanides, founder of Cabbalist teaching.

The Call de Girona was the second most important Sephardic community in Catalonia in the Middle Ages between the 10th and 15th centuries, after the Jewish quarter of Barcelona. The area had three synagogues in the same quarter and the current Museum of the History of the Jews of Girona, in the Bonastrucça Porta centre, is located on one of its sites.

The Jewish community was persecuted from the 11th century onwards and continued to decline until the expulsion of all Spain’s Jews in 1492.

Girona Jewish Quarter today

Made up of historic winding streets, the highlight of the Girona Jewish Quarter is the Museum of Jewish History (Centre Bonastruc Ca Porta, named after the Spanish name for Nahmanides) with its detailed history of the Jewish community in the city and, amongst other things, a tombstones exhibit.

One of Girona Jewish Quarter’s key sites is the staircase of the Barri Vell, also known as the Pujada de Sant Domènec. It is one of the most valuable historical and artistic sites in the city and has played a leading role in scenes from some well-known films such as “Perfume: Story of a Murderer.”

Getting to Girona Jewish Quarter

The city of Girona is located 65 miles from Barcelona in the northeastern corner of Spain, linked to the city with a high-speed train. Girona is frequently used as a travel base to explore the Pyrenees and Costa Brava, or as a day trip by train from Barcelona.

Força street lies at the heart of the Jewish Quarter. Walk along it to find both the Jewish History Museum and the City History Museum. The area is full of ancient doorways and old Jewish houses, as well as some cute little boutiques and restaurants. Two other must-visit streets are Carrer de Sant Llorenç and Carrer Manuel Cundaro, which both epitomise the Jewish Quarter with their narrow walls, steep stone steps and big stone windows.