Jewish Heritage in Spain and Portugal

Tarragona (E)

City Profile Tarragona, SpainConquered by the Romans in the 3rd century B.C.E., Tarraco became the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Citerior and one of the most important political hubs of the Roman Empire. One can get an idea of the importance of the city from the open-air structures that still can be seen on a casual stroll through the old section, from the seaside amphitheatre to the Praetorium (tower) and Roman Circus (used for chariot races).

Jewish presence here dates from Roman times, although the first documented evidence is a 4th-century C.E. laver with a trilingual (Greek, Latin and Hebrew) inscription saying “Peace over Israel, over ourselves, and our children". The Jewish community prospered during the Arab period, and Tarragona became known as “City of the Jews”. With the largest Jewish population in the region, and a thriving economy, the aljama (Jewish neighborhood) boasted its own slaughterhouse and bakery as well as several synagogues. Among other trades, Jews worked as jewelers, silversmiths, tailors, and merchants, and Tarragona also produced a number of renowned Jewish doctors and surgeons.

In November 2000 UNESCO officially declared the Tarraco archaeological ensemble a World Heritage Site.


Jewish Tarragona: