ROOTS OF SEFARAD

Jewish Heritage in Spain and Portugal

Covilha (W)


Originally founded by Lusitanian shepherds, taken over by the Moors and then reconquered by Dom Sancho I who then fortified the town with walls, Covilha was an important strategic point in the Middle Ages and birthplace of many Portuguese adventurers and explorers.

Its reputation as the center of one of Europe's biggest wool producing areas  began in the 12th century and the industry was further developed by the Jewish community that settled there at that time.  Its Museu de Lanificios (Museum of Woolmaking) is housed in the 18th-century Royal Textile Factory.

The Jewish quarter retains some of the historic character of the town with its narrow winding streets and Manueline windows. Its houses still conform to the medieval style of using the ground floor for commerce and the floors above it as dwellings.

Covilha is also home to a kosher winery, and Serra da Estrela cheese made by its Braz factory, owned by descendents of anusim (forced converts), was recently granted kosher certification.

More

Jewish Covilha