© cineuno
© cineuno

The Old Jewish Quarter of Cáceres

3 minutes to read

The first time I passed through this neighbourhood by chance I said: “this is the most beautiful part of Cáceres I’ve seen.” It was a bold statement considering that the rest of Cáceres is so breathtaking, and its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But I stand by that statement. The Old Jewish Quarter of Cáceres is a peaceful, practically silent, centuries-old neighbourhood of narrow cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, hidden within a small area of sloping ground behind the Moorish city walls.

©  Adam L. Maloney
© Adam L. Maloney

Arrival of the Jews in Cáceres

Nobody knows exactly when the first Jews arrived in Cáceres. However, the evidence from historical documents suggests that they arrived at some point during the period of Muslim-rule of the city (711 – 1229) when Cáceres was known as Hizn Qazris. When the Christians reconquered Cáceres on Saint George’s day of 1229, the Jewish community was already well established and settled.

©  Adam L. Maloney
© Adam L. Maloney

Birth of the Old Jewish Quarter

Historians suggest that this neighbourhood is likely to have become a specifically ‘Jewish quarter’ after the Christian reconquest; during this time, Jews and Christians were not allowed to have relationships nor marry outside their own religion, and in 1388, the Jews were forced to live in their own segregated neighbourhoods, such as this one. In spite of that, it is well documented that many Christians certainly lived in this area at the same time, among their Jewish neighbours. In 1478, the monarchy forced the Jews to move out of the Old Jewish Quarter to an assigned site, which became the New Jewish Quarter.

©  Adam L. Maloney
© Adam L. Maloney

The majority of the houses of the Old Jewish Quarter are small, whitewashed and have two floors; a distinctive feature of the neighbourhood. The layout of the area, with its narrow streets and small squares is completely unchanged from the days of Muslim-rule, centuries ago.

©  Adam L. Maloney
© Adam L. Maloney

The Olive Grove of the Jewish Quarter

The ‘Olivar de la Judería’ used to be a garden belonging to a Jewish family in the house that sits by its entrance. Nowadays, however, it is a small but hidden park of exotic trees where fruit grows and the history of the three Abrahamic religions can all be seen. Here, you’ll relax beside old Jewish houses, a Moorish-Muslim tower and a Christian city wall, all in the same space.

©  Adam L. Maloney
© Adam L. Maloney

Barrio de San Antonio

The Barrio de San Antonio is the name of the largest square in the Old Jewish Quarter and the narrow street that leads from it. Amidst the typical Jewish houses, the Star of David can be found on each of the streets signs as well as on the ground, in black and white cobblestones. The house at number 13 (Baluarte de los Pozos) is a museum of local history, also providing access to a Moorish tower and often hosting cultural events.

©  Adam L. Maloney
© Adam L. Maloney

The Former Synagogue

In perhaps the most quiet and beautiful little Square of Barrio de San Antonio is the San Antonio Hermitage, a small chapel built exactly on the site of a former synagogue. In 1470, under the segregation order, the Jews were forced to give up their temple, and it was transformed into a place of Christian worship.

©  Adam L. Maloney
© Adam L. Maloney

Callejón del Moral

The small alley that leads away and downwards from the former synagogue is a quaint and narrow street, where more Jewish people had settled. A visit to the Old Jewish Quarter would not be complete without stopping at the small bar/café here - ‘Los Siete Jardines’. From its terrace, you can admire beautiful views of the surrounding Jewish, Muslim and Christian architecture.

©  Adam L. Maloney
© Adam L. Maloney

"When you have no choice, mobilize the spirit of courage." - (Jewish proverb)


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The author

Adam L. Maloney

Adam L. Maloney

Adam is a Londoner who travelled to over 20 European countries and lived in both Portugal and Spain for several years. Adam is a fan of exploring intriguing neighbourhoods and meeting locals.

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