Jews in Portugal
The jews in Portugal and it’s rural Jewish communities were very important for Portuguese Jewish legacy. Some of these communities date back over the XIV century. The main purpose of these rural Jewish communities in Portugal was to position themselves as Jews and to preserve their Jewish identity.
New Christians in rural Jewish communities
Our Jewish rural communities hide themselves as Conversos or New Christians. Hiding was the only way to continue to practice their own religion in secret. A unique Hebrew culture was emerging, the Crypto-Judaism.
The B’nei Anussim kept their rites and culture hidden and avoided marriages outside the Jewish community.
Jewish life in rural Portugal and its legacy in this region is undeniable and part of Portugal’s history. From Jewish typical products, buildings and old traditions there is a Jewish historical heritage. It is a testimony to Portugal’s Jewish identity.
Jewish presence in Portugal
Explore the Jewish Portugal cultural and historical heritage created by the presence of Jews and New Christians in some old medieval towns. Explore the large number of entries cross forms and other symbols of their “Christianization”.
Here we have, from distant times, through the records auction of real rights, determined Jewish Solomon Navarro in the first half of the fifteenth century. The geographical location and the abundance of water led to the establishment of activities related to the work of wool.
Worth mentioning are some examples of architecture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The typical architecture houses of Jews and New Christians had the workshop on the ground floor and the first floor as their residence.
In this ancient region, the new Christians are evidenced by the high number of cruciform inscriptions. This is a proof of their “Christianization” in Portugal and their Jewish identity.
Different groups of houses stand out from the main churches, which date from the 15th to 16th centuries. Inside we find the Hekhal or Aron-ah-Kodesh (Law Cabinet), adapted by the Jews in Portugal.
The Jewish presence in different urban groups shows us some types of cross shapes. The Latin cross, has a double interpretation in its decoration – Jewish and Catholic.