Jewish Heritage in Spain and Portugal

Caceres (S, W, SP)

CaceresThis is an aristocratic city where two dozen castles and other fortified structures stand in stark contrast to the modest Jewish quarter and synagogue (now a chapel). Its pedestrian-only historic center dates from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Caceres is in the region of Extremadura, home of most of the Conquistadores and soldiers of fortune who followed the path of Columbus to America in the XVI Century.   So did many conversos, fleeing the Inquisition.

Founded by the Romans in the year 34 B.C.E., and conquered by the Moors in the 8thcentury,     by the 15thcentury Caceres had one of the five largest Jewish communities in Castile, with two Jewish quarters. In 1479 there were about 130 Jewish families living in Caceres—a large proportion of the total population of about 2000. This can be explained by the fact that there was little or no anti-Jewish feeling here at the time…and also that this region was close to the Portuguese border, just in case…

Caceres was declared a World Heritage City by UNESCO in 1986 because of its blend of Roman, Islamic, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance styles.