Segovia: Learning about Jewish Culture

JEWISH CEMETERY SEGOVIAOne more year, ‘Tiempo de Ánimas’, the activity organized by the tourism area of ​​the City of Segovia, organized on Sunday 11 November, a free visit to the Jewish cemetery of Segovia that is preserved in the area known as the Pinarillo.

About thirty people knew, from the hand of the guide, the peculiarities and customs of the Jews in regard to funeral acts with which to dismiss their deceased relatives. The visit, in addition to the explanations of the guide, was attended by a singer and an actress who intervened with Sephardic songs or through the narration of a story that told the perspective of a Jewish girl who used to visit the necropolis with her grandfather .

The guide said that death for Jewish society was something that deserved “utmost respect.” “They spent a year of mourning in which they did not attend any type of social events. The most peculiar thing is the imprisonment of the closest relatives in the house of the deceased the first seven days after death, “the guide reported.

The visit lasted about an hour and a half and included the walk to the area where the tombs carved into the rock are kept, typical of the Serfardí society that inhabited the city until its expulsion in 1492 by order of the Catholic Kings

European Days of The Jewish Culture in Spain

sephardic days 2018This has been announced by the Network of Spanish Jewish Quarters, which has advanced that this year the activities will revolve around ‘storytelling’, which serves as a tool for the dissemination of the Jewish historical heritage in Europe.

Specifically, in Barcelona will take place on September 2nd will be an open day of the Center MUHBA El Call and the Domus de Sant Honorat; while in Calahorra (La Rioja), on Saturday 8 will be inaugurated the exhibition ‘Shalom! Sepharad ‘and on Sunday 23rd, there will be a guided tour of the Jewish Quarter and the Cathedral, to contemplate its Sephardic documentary heritage; Hebrew and Arabic writing workshops; the concert ‘The Spain of the three cultures’; and a dinner tasting skewers in the Sephardic style.

On the other hand, Cáceres will host a guided visit to the New and Old Jewish quarters of the city on September 2. It will be an open day of various enclaves related to the Jewish heritage (the Island Palace, the Interpretation Center of the Bujaco Tower, the tourist center Baluarte de los Pozos and the Center for the Dissemination of Holy Week), and two exhibitions (‘Encuentro en Sefarad: from light to secret’ and ‘Jewish Quarters in Spain and Portugal’) can be visited at the Palace of the Island and the Baluarte de los Pozos, respectively.

Córdoba celebrates the VI Day in the Sephardic Autumn program, which will take place from September 1 to 23. This new edition will reflect the theme of the Storytelling, the Oral Narrative, and among the more than fifty activities scheduled, highlight the days of open doors on day 2 of the Al-Andalus Alive Museum, the Synagogue, the Archaeological Museum and the House de las Cabezas or the photographic exhibition Armonías de Azul y Ocre: Ritmo Vital and Sephardic Festival, which can be visited from September 1 to 23 and from Monday to Friday at the Rey Heredia Cultural Space.

Also, in Estella (Navarra) throughout the weekend you can visit the exhibition ‘Refranero popular Sephardic’ in the courtyard of the House of Culture Fray Diego de Estella and on Sunday September 2 will take place the guided tour ‘Visiting the aljamas’ .


In Jaen, gastronomy will be one of the protagonists of the Days, which will last between September 1 and 9, with the celebration at the Taberna Pilar del Arrabalejo and the Parador de Jaén of the Sephardic Gastronomic Days.

Also in the capital Jaén, on September 2 there will be a guided tour of the Jewish Jaén; On the 6th at 8:00 pm, the conference ‘Telling stories: legends and traditions of the Judería de Jaén’ will take place at the Mudéjar Hall of the Municipal Palace of Culture, and the same location will host on Friday 7 at 9:00 pm the screening of the documentary ‘The last Sephardi’. On Saturday 8, at 9:00 pm, the Tourdion Chamber Choir will give the concert ‘Sefarad en el corazón’, in the Patio of the Municipal Palace of Culture.

From Friday 31 to Sunday 2, at the Jardines del Cid in the city of León there will be workshops on medieval games, as well as a theatrical tour of the Jewish Quarter, which will depart every day from the Plaza de San Martín. In the Palacio del Conde Luna, the Teatro Abierto will perform the Desiguales work on Friday the 31st at 8:00 pm, and Milo Ke Mandarini will offer a concert on Saturday the 1st at 8:30 pm.

In Lucena (Córdoba), in addition to the exhibition ‘Sayings in ladino’ that can be seen in different locations in the city – Castillo del Moral, Municipal Public Library, Palace of the Counts of Santa Ana and Casa de los Mora – there is activities that will occupy the whole month of September.

In Monforte de Lemos (Lugo), on September 2 there will be guided tours to the Jewish quarter of the town, which will depart at 11.30 and 6.00 pm from the Municipal Tourism Office (in the Rúa Comercio), and a concert of traditional music Iberian and Sephardic by Paco Díez (September 2 at 8 pm at the House of Culture Poeta Lois Pereiro).

In Oviedo (Asturias), the Beit Emunáh Synagogue (Fontán Street, 11), will open its doors on the 2nd to host an exhibition of books and a session of Jewish storytellers (from 12 to 14 hours), in addition to the exhibition of the ” Sephardic sayings “on the balconies of the Casina throughout the weekend.

Tarazona (Zaragoza), meanwhile, will organize a guided tour of its Jewish quarter, which will start at the Tourism Office of the town on Sunday 2 at 10.30.

In Segovia, on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 (1:00 pm) there will be the guided tour ‘Meet the Jewish Quarter’ through the streets of the Jewish quarter, evoking the Jewish legacy of the city through the visit of the Judería Educational Center and of the San Andrés Gate.

In the afternoon, at 5:00 pm, there will be a tour ‘From the synagogue to the cemetery’, an emotional itinerary recalling the daily life of the Segovian Jews. On Sunday, September 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The famous Spanish Easter pastries have the origin in the mix of religions

All things religious aside, the star of Holy Week in Spain is pastry. Ask tourists and the first thing many remember about a Spanish Easter is its pastries; the unmistakable smell of freshly baked cakes that brings to mind good ol’ traditional grandma’s cooking and that impregnates any street in the old quarters of cities and towns. A mixed smell of musk, incense, orange blossom, honey and baked puff pastry and fried dough in olive oil.

For the majority of tourists arriving in Spain in Easter, those pastries are an exquisite and calorific novelty that they can’t seem to stop eating but for Spaniards – whatever their religious denomination – that kind of sweet culinary art makes them, for a few days a year at least, relive the memory of the flavours of their childhood. It’s 100% authentic gastronomy, guaranteed by the legacy of the recipe books implanted in Spain over many centuries by the three major cultures and monotheistic religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. In fact, everything in Spanish gastronomy is nothing more than a great puzzle of Arabic, Hebrew and Christian-Latin pieces that have evolved together.

And Holy Week in Spain unites many elements: tradition, religion, history, the change of season marked by the arrival of spring and, of course, gastronomy.
This particular branch of gastronomy is essentially embodied in cakes and pastries. Dried fruits, honey, sugar, cinnamon, oil, sesame, green anise; they are ingredients from three different culinary cultures and three different civilizations covering the two shores of the Mediterranean, from the Middle East to Southern Europe, passing through North Africa.

These traditional pastries (torrijas, pestiños, hornazos, gañotes, roscos, buñuelos), although consumed in Spain over the Christian festival of Easter, do not have a Christian origin, but rather Jewish and Muslim beginnings. Moreover, many of these pastries and their ingredients are shared in the major festivities of the three great religions (Holy Week, Jewish Passover and Ramadan). Not to mention the fact that often the best cake shops and bakeries of the Holy Week are located in the old Jewish quarters and in the areas with more apparent Muslim vestiges.

Toledo is known as ‘the city of the three cultures’ because for more than 1,000 years it has been home to Christians, Jews and Muslims. The same can be said for other Spanish towns such as Seville, Granada or Cordoba, with similar historic periods of coexistence.

In Toledo, Baker Abderrahman Cañabate is currently in charge of the quality control department of the Horno de Santo Tomé, hailed by many of the most famous international gastronomic guides as “the best pastry shop in the city”. Its prestige relies on its technique, as its pastries and marzipan are prepared in the traditional way and using only the same original ingredients as were to be found almost two centuries ago.

Cañabate’s boss is Ana de Mesa Gárate. She is the seventh generation to wear the white clothes and apron in her typical Christian family, “although it is possible that the origin of the surname De Mesa originates from Converted Jews”, she thinks aloud.

Young Ana, however, is more than just a bakery owner. With a university degree in History, she has good knowledge of the past “and of its influence in the present”, she explains. Horno de Santo Tomé is located in the Jewish quarter of the town, which is accessible via a meandering labyrinth of ascending and descending stone alleys, including Santo Tomé Street itself, next to the Catholic church of the same name. The Christian temple (which even in the early hours of the morning is crowded by tourists visiting ‘The burial of the Count of Orgaz’, one of the most famous paintings of El Greco and exhibited inside) is actually built on the site of a Muslim mosque, and a few meters away from probably the most famous Jewish synagogue in Spain, the Transit Synagogue.

The case of Baker is even more characteristic and striking. He comes from Granada, but has been living in Toledo for many years. He is a Muslim, son of a Jordanian father and a Spanish mother of a Christian family. “You see, and even funnier: my name is Baker,” he tells us, laughing uncontrollably at the reference to the translation of his name into Spanish.

“I am a religious person in my own way… I observe the month of Ramadan, but that’s all. I don’t pray all day, every day. Because here every religion retains its values, and then you get to make pastries and you realize that it is ridiculous to believe that you are exclusive and different, and that you have the absolute truth. Everything is much simpler, it is about mutual respect, nothing else.”

“Here’s a simple example,” he explains. “One of our star products here in the shop is what we call anguila” (a cake shaped like an eel with the face of coiled dragon, made of marzipan and stuffed with seasonal fruit jam and candied spaghetti squash). “It´s quite a popular cake here in Toledo during Holy Week, but as Easter coincides with the Jewish Passover and many Jewish clients order it, on these days we draw a few scales on it with marzipan before putting it in the oven. Why? To turn it into a kosher cake: the Torah prohibits the consumption of fish without scales “.

There are two coexisting theories about the very origin of the name of the most recognized pastry of Toledo, the marzipan. According to one, the word marzipan comes from the Arabic term ‘mautabán’, which means ‘seated king’. The truth is that the shield of the city of Toledo is composed of a two-headed eagle and two kings sitting in an armchair. The other theory takes us to the Christian convent of San Clemente, also in the Jewish quarter and located only 200 meters from the Horno de Santo Tomé. The Christian tradition affirms that during a terrible famine in the 12th Century, the nuns of this convent gave the poor the only thing they kept in their pantries, almonds and sugar, which they milled with a mallet to make a kind of sweet bread (hence the Spanish name ‘mazapán’: bread made with a mallet or ‘pan de mazo’). However, the almonds were introduced to Spain by Arabs, and the term marzipan is also already mentioned in ‘The Thousand and One Nights’.

Millions of tourists flock to Spain every year from all over the world to witness for themselves the distinctive features of Spanish Easter, whose peculiarity and appeal is not only due to the most striking and somehow folkloric elements that compose it (the Nazarenes, flamenco music and military marches or religious pieces of art), but also to the intertwined vestiges of what Moors, Jews and Christians left behind in the form of buildings, art, music and, of course, food.
The history of pre-existing civilizations often behaves like an air bubble trapped in the depths of the Earth. As more sediments layover them, they will usually end up emerging to the surface in some way.

This is what happens in Spain with the three great monotheistic cultures and religions that for almost a millennium reigned over a region that was more territory than country per se. Three different religions with origins so close that it is often impossible to dissociate them.

In present-day cities like Toledo, Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Caceres or Valencia (to mention but a few), hiding the cultural heritage of centuries of shared lives, peaceful coexistence and bloody clashes between Jews, Moors and Christians does not only deprive these cities of chances of economic development and social progress in the 21st century, but, fundamentally, it is impossible to do so, given history’s winning habit of constantly re-emerging and re-inventing itself.

In one episode of The Simpsons, the family travels to Israel, and thus spoke Homer to a multitude of Christians, Jews and Muslims congregated around him: “Some of you do not eat pork. Others do not eat shellfish. But there is something that links us. We agree that we all love chicken. Chicken is our point of union “.

Juan Pedro Manzano for euronews

Segovia: The exhibition ‘The Power of Civil Society during the Holocaust: Bulgaria / 1940-1944 /’

It shows the development of events throughout World War II on the international scene, the impact of events in Bulgaria, the position of the authorities and the firm response of civil society.

From the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Spain, we would like to invite you to our next cultural events that will take place at the Didgotic Center of the Jewish Quarter of Segovia (C / Judería vieja, 12), next April 3 at 18.00hs.

The exhibition “The Power of Civil Society during the Holocaust: the case of Bulgaria / 1940-1944 /” is a sample that represents the development of events throughout World War II on the international scene, the repercussion of the Developments in Bulgaria, the position of the authorities and the firm response of civil society. This exhibition will be accompanied by a lecture by Mr. Marcel Israel.

Segovia to be promoted as a top tourist destination in 2017

A top tourist destination is the city of Segovia, a really interesting place. From the tourist
segovia-turismo-600x330point of view, it is a really fascinating city and has a really positive 2017 year ahead to be able to continue to attract more tourists in the coming months.

Segovia will bet on promoting train travel from Madrid and promote itself as a cultural destination The Councilor for Historic Heritage and Tourism and vice-president of the Municipal Tourism Company of Segovia, presented in Fitur its cultural offer to attract new visitors, both Spanish and markets foreign. One of the objectives is to promote tourism through train travel, which is a very interesting means of transport that allows potential visitors to reach segovia lands.

Attractions in Segovia

The agreement to improve the use of the train will allow the commercialization of an Avant Madrid-Segovia again to be able to improve the presence of visitors in this city. Antonio Machado will be the name of the train that will make this journey between both cities. It will be offered in the summer months, specifically from July 1 to September 30 next summer.

Segovia also wants to improve the presence of visitors by offering different activities and events such as Titirimundi, Hay Festival, Half Marathon, among other proposals that will be enjoyable throughout the year 2017. This will encourage the entry of tourists from other points Of Spain so that they take advantage of the routes by train and enjoy in couple or in family of the events of leisure and culture.

It is also a city where cultural attractions are evident. Taking tours through its emblematic Jewish Quarter is always very satisfying for all tourists. Discovering great buildings such as the Segovian Cathedral, the Aqueduct or the Old Synagogue are often highly recommended options to make a visit quite complete on holidays throughout the year.