Jewish Heritage in Spain and Portugal

Segovia (W, SP)

 City Profile Segovia, SpainWhile Segovia was originally settled by the Celts, and boasts one of the richest collections of Romanesque architecture in Europe, by far its most striking monument was built by the Romans, who conquered the city in the year 80 B.C.E. Standing at the entrance to the city for 2000 years, the 166-arch aqueduct was made of blocks of stone held together by a masterful balance of forces using no mortar. It was declared a national Historical-Artistic Monument in 1884.

The presence of Jews in Segovia dates back to the 11th century. They engaged primarily in commerce, tanning and textile manufacture, and the community was prosperous. Between the 13th and 15th centuries Segovia was also the birthplace or residence of many Jewish scholars. Ironically, two of Segovia’s most prominent Jews held such important positions in the 15th century that it may be said that they influenced not only Spanish history, but the history of the world as well. Abraham Senior, advisor to the Queen, was instrumental in arranging the marriage between young Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, which resulted in the unification of the two kingdoms. The other prominent Jew, Itshak Abarvanel, held a position equivalent to that of minister of the treasury and economic advisor to the kingdom.

It was in the Alcazar of Segovia that Isabella and Ferdinand first met, and it was also there that Christopher Columbus (himself said to be descended from conversos) visited the queen to beg her for support for his ventures.

In 1985 Segovia was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Jewish Segovia: