Jewish Heritage in Spain and Portugal

Guarda (W, SP)


The locals call the town “forte, farta, fria e fea” that is “strong , rich , cold and ugly”.  It is certainly cold in the winter. Guarda is the administrative center for the area called Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain area in Portugal. This area and that of Tras os Montes have large concentrations of Crypto-Jews. The Jewish quarter is in the very center of the old city. It is striking, stark and has not been modernized.   It remains as it was:   a not very affluent XV-century neighborhood frozen in time. Because the walls remain as they were then, cruciform markings—put on the houses of “new Christian” families after the forced baptism of Jews—can still be seen at the entrance to some of the houses.