UNIVERSITY SYNAGOGUE ITINERARY
SEPHARDIC JEWISH HERITAGE TOUR TO SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
JUNE 29 – JULY 14, 2015
JUNE 29 – MONDAY
Depart for Barcelona, one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in Europe.
JUNE 30 – TUESDAY
Arrival Barcelona airport for meeting and assistance.
Drive to Montjuic (Mount of the Jews) and see the remains of the Castle. The Montjuïc was selected as the site for several of the venues of the 1992 Summer Olympics, centered on the Olympic stadium. Proceed to the ancient Jewish cemetery, which houses the last remains of some of the most notable members of the pre-expulsion Spanish community and is officially a city park. Explore the ancient Jewish Quarter and the Sinagoga Mayor. Rest of the day at leisure in Barcelona.
JULY 1 – WEDNESDAY
Today’s touring includes the Casa Sefardita Jewish Community Center, the dual Sephardic-Ashkenazi synagogues, opened in 1954 (Spain’s first after the expulsion). Continue to Antoni Gaudi’s magnificent Parc Guell and El Labarint for a tour of this special site. End the tour at La Rambla, which is approximately 1.2 kilometers long with Port Vell (near the cruise port terminal) at the southern-most end and Plaça Catalunya at the northern-most end. La Rambla is primarily pedestrianized with only two narrow one-way traffic roads, which run on either side of the central Ramblas Boulevard.
JULY 2 –THURSDAY
Start the day with a tour of the Gothic Quarter with its medieval buildings and nostalgic atmosphere. Proceed to Gaudi’s famous cathedral building: Sagrada Familia. Continue to the El Ensanche Quarter to see Gaudi’s Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera, with its irregular curved walls reminiscent of desert sand dunes, considered a landmark of modern architecture. End the day with a visit to the Picasso Museum.
JULY 3 – FRIDAY
Depart Barcelona and drive to Girona, one of Spain’s Jewish centers before the Expulsion in 1492. Proceed on an orientation tour of the city and stop at the Isaac El Cec Center of Sephardic Studies. Continue to Figueros to visit the Dali Museum, which houses many of his surrealistic paintings. Return to Barcelona for overnight. Shabbat services at liberal synagogue Atid, followed by Shabbat dinner at the hotel.
JULY 4 – SATURDAY
Morning transfer to Barcelona train station for the fast train to Madrid. Arrival at Madrid train station for meeting, assistance and transfer to the hotel. Proceed on a panoramic tour of the city including Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace and other impressive sites. Visit the world famous Prado Museum. Join for Havdalah.
JULY 5 – SUNDAY
Drive to Toledo to explore the Jewish Quarter and visit Santa Maria La Blanca (the former Great Synagogue of Toledo) and the El Transito Synagogue, which is now a Museum of Sephardic Culture. Continue to El Greco’s house, then visit the Santa Croce Church to see El Greco’s famous painting “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.” Return to Madrid for overnight.
JULY 6 – MONDAY
Transfer to Madrid train station for the fast train to Seville. Arrival at Seville train station for meeting and assistance. Drive to Seville to visit the Cathedral, which houses the dramatic tomb of Columbus, then La Giralda Tower, and then proceed on a tour of the Barrio de Santa Cruz (the former Jewish Quarter of the city), the primary tourist neighborhood of Seville. Rest of the day at leisure.
JULY 7 – TUESDAY
Drive to Cordoba to visit the former Jewish Quarter as well as the synagogue, built in the early part of the 14th century, one of the few Mudejar architectural style buildings still in existence. See the statue of Maimonides at Tiberiadus Square. Visit La Mesquita (the Mosque) which was later converted into a church. Return to Seville for overnight.
JULY 8 – WEDNESDAY
Depart Seville and drive through the Andalusian region to Granada. Visit the famous Alhambra Palace/Fortress with its incredible architecture and large airy courtyards. Visit the Generalife Gardens before driving to the world famous beach resort town of Marbella for overnight.
JULY 9 – THURSDAY
Morning tour of the breathtaking Spanish coast along the Costa del Sol and Mijas. Afternoon at leisure.
JULY 10 – FRIDAY
Depart Marbella and drive to the Spain/Portugal border and cross into Portugal. Drive to Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage site, originally inhabited in Roman times and rebuilt again and again, to visit the Temple of Diana, the Bones Chapel and the Cathedral. Continue to Lisbon for overnight. Drive to the liberal Kehilat Beit Israel Synagogue for Shabbat services, then return to the hotel for Shabbat dinner.
JULY 11 – SATURDAY
Tour St. George Castle, including its surrounding quarter and Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest quarter. Close to Alfama is the Judiaria (Jewish Quarter) of Lisbon, with its narrow streets and small houses where the Jewish population used to live. In the central area of the city is Commerce Square, which has a tragic Jewish connection. Proceed to the Coaches Museum, one of Lisbon’s most visited museums, which has the largest and most valuable collection of its type in the world. Housed in a richly decorated 18th century royal riding school, it’s part of Belem Palace. Join for Havdalah.
JULY 12 – SUNDAY
Drive to the unique town of Belmonte with its community of Conversos. The community goes back to the 12th century and was only discovered in 1917 by a Polish Jewish mining engineer named Samuel Schwarz. Many of them returned to Judaism in the 1970s, and opened a synagogue, Bet Eliahu, in 1996 and a Jewish Museum of Belmonte (Museu Judaico de Belmonte) in 2005. The Sephardic tradition of Crypto-Judaism is considered unique in the world since these Jews and their ancestors practiced Judaism in secret for 500 years. Visit the synagogue and meet with members of that community and then return to Lisbon for overnight.
JULY 13 – MONDAY
Start the day with a visit to the oldest Synagogue of Lisbon. With its hidden façade because of the strict rules that were imposed on Jewish buildings in the past, it is still the meeting point for the Jewish community of Lisbon. Then visit the historical center of Sintra, where we will have some time to explore the old streets and the National Palace of Sintra. Continue to Pena Palace, the most extravagant palace built on a rock at 500m altitude, dominating the whole coast. This building, a mixture of Moorish and Manueline architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit Cascais, a “postcard-perfect little beach town,” that once was a quiet fishing village. But after European nobility discovered its idyllic setting, the town became a favorite vacation destination, an elegant Lisbon coastal resort for international visitors. Return to Lisbon.
JULY 14 – TUESDAY
Transfer to Lisbon airport for our return flight home.