Barcelona, a city of rich cultural heritage with an interesting Jewish history. There is archeological evidence that points to a sizeable Jewish community from as early as the common era. The numbers of Jewish citizens in Barcelona has gradually increased since the beginning of the 20th century when Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews migrated from North Africa and Eastern Europe. Today there are approximately 4000 Jewish people currently residing in Barcelona.
Jewish Monuments in Barcelona
There are quite a few places and monuments with rich Jewish history still standing in Barcelona, especially in the medieval Gothic area. The ancient Jewish quarter, known as the Call (likely from the Hebrew word Kahal or Kehilla), is located just a few kilometers from Las Ramblas. Carrer de Sant Domenec is the main street of the Call, and was the heart of the Jewish community of Barcelona in the days of old. The Sinagoga Mayor of Barcelona, which is believed to be the oldest synagogue in Europe, is a part of the Call. The main entrance lies on Carrer Marlet.
Montjuic, which means “Jewish mountain” was a formerly Jewish cemetery. The mountain faces the Barcelona Harbor, standing over the Placa de la Porta de Pau (Square of the Gate of Peace), a tall monumental column that is adorned with the statue of Christopher Columbus. The monument marks the location where Christopher Columbus returned after his first expedition to the Americas. Legend has it that Christopher Columbus was a Christian convert. His ancestors were supposedly Spanish and Barcelona-based Jews that were forced to convert to Christianity as a ploy to save their lives, but secretly practiced Judaism.
There are also quite a few great names in Barcelona’s Judaic history. Rashba, who was born in Barcelona in 1235 was considered to be one of the greatest Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. He served as Rabbi of the Sinagoga Mayor de Barcelona for more than 50 years. Nachmanides, also known as Rabbi Moses ben Nahman, was the grandson of Isaac ben Reuben of Barcelona.
Restaurants & Events
There is an annual Jewish Film Festival that occurs on Carrer Moai 9 here in Barcelona. Although other activities are planned parallel to the event, the festival features films of Israeli and Jewish origins. There are also conferences, workshops and discussions on filmmaking in the international Jewish communities. If you’re looking Jewish food, you can stop by Restaurant Macabi on Las Ramblas for a wholesome kosher meal, or if you ‘d like to cook it yourself, there’s Isamar Kosher butcher shop that’s located on Carrer de l’Avenir. You may need a few classes or information on the proper way to cook kosher meals, which you can get at Chabad Barcelona on Carrer de Sant Honorat 9. The Rabbi on duty, Mr David Libershon welcomes all inquiries.