A Jewish City
The Realejo is the Jewish quarter in Granada. Located right in the town centre, it was a bustling community at the time of Nasrid rule. The Jewish community was once so important. In fact Granada was called´Granada of the jews´ Garnatha al Yejud (in Arabic, غرناطة اليهود).
Jewish history in Granada goes back as far as the year 135. Although some historians refer to the year 70 when jewish settlements may first have been present. This was a time when new lives in Spain evolved. Leaving their native Israel behind at the time of the second destruction of the temple of Jerusalem. The first time anything was properly recorded was around 303-306 in the cannons of the Synod of Elvira.
The Realejo quarter began to take shape from the year 711 when muslims came to Granada. From 912 onwards when Abd ar Rahman III ruled the Jews really prospered in Al-Andalus and the population grew. During this time they studied Science, commerce and industry. They also traded in the cotton and silk trade important in Granada. A business that prospered and grew over the centuries.
Jewish Population in Granada
Between 1013 and the early 13th century the Jewish population flourished in Granada. Many coming from Cordoba where the Ziri Dynasty were growing in power. In the 11th century the Jewish community was mainly located around the area of the River Darro (Carrera de Darro)
Only in later centuries did the jewish district around Colina Mauror, Pavaneras or San Matias grow. In 1494 the jewish population in Granada was around 20,000.
Until the beginning of the 11th century the Jewish and Muslim settlers collaborated and lived together without friction.
Joseph Ibn Naghrela
A City of Translators
Yehuda Ibn Tibon
It is recorded that by the end of the fifteenth century the jewish population in Granada was close to 50,000. Working mainly as tax collectors, doctors, ambassadors or as merchants and tradesmen.
Along Calle Pavaneras in Granada many Jewish craftsmen such as cobblers and leather tanners had their workshops. In the same area there were traders in wool, linen, cotton and silks. Also silver and gold traders too. It was quite common that they could speak several languages.
Jewish Legacy in Granada
There are plenty of recipes using aubergines which was typical in Sefardi cuisine. Rabbis such as Isaac ben Sheshet Barfat, (Barcelona) Simon ben Semah Duran, (Majorca) or Abraham ben Hakin all came from Spain. Travelling from Northern Africa to practise in new communities across the water.
The Alhambra Decree of 1492
We have decided to give order to all jews, men and women to abandon our kingdom and never return. With the exception of those who have been baptized. All the rest must leave our territory by 31 July 1492 to not return. Death penalty and confiscation of belongings will be applied.
Palacio de los Olvidados
This Museum called Palace of the Forgotten has some jewish items inside. A collection of different exhibits curated from several collections. This also has lots of material about the Spanish Inquisition. ; (
They offer Flamenco Shows within this space every evening. Make a reservation online for the Flamenco performance Get there 15 minutes ahead of the show to get the best seats.
Granada has few traces of its sephardic past. There are few sights to taken in today.
Perhaps the best way to see is to take a guided tour around the Realejo quarter with a specialised historian. Noticing the narrow streets and retracing the stories of notable buildings in the district.
This family home at Placeta Berrocal gives you insight into a typical Realejo house. Dedicated to Sefardi culture this centre educates visitors in jewish culture. There are some exhibits and a small book collection. (pictured above)
Check opening times as they vary depending on the time of year.
Granada Accomodation – Realejo
- Boutique Hotel Gar Anat
- Hotel Hesperia Granada
- Boutique Hotel Palacio de las Navas
- Hotel Molinos Granada
- Hotel Confort Dauro II
Other Places of Interest
Known as Pearl of Sefarad, Lucena was an important Jewish settlement from 9th – 12th century. Located in Cordoba province, this town has a Jewish Necropolis from the 11th century. This site has 346 tombs, showing how important this community was.
Some of the tombstones have hebrew text still visible. (Visits by prior arrangement)
Jehuda ha Leví, Abraham Ibn Ezrá and even Maimónides all lived in Lucena.
In Jaen province the town of Ubeda has an historic synagogue. Sinagoga del Agua, a building dates back to the 14th century. Inside you can see the Mikveh, the womens gallery and the arches of the synagogue.
The only conserved Synagogue in Andalusia is in Cordoba. Built in 1315. (In Spain there are only two other ones, in Toledo). This synagogue is small, perhaps belonging to a family. It is no longer in use for worship now but it is open to visitors.
The Jewish Quarter of Cordoba is also an important legacy of Al Andalus. (Dating back to 10th-15th century). This area is on streets: Deanes, Manríquez, Tomás Conde, Judíos, Almanzor and Romero. Cordoba was the birthplace of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides.