Spain & Portugal Tour 15 Days

Spain & Portugal Jewish Heritage

Spain is considered the world‘s leading country in foreign tourism (about 60 million foreign tourists annually) – blessed with people who come to visit its famous sites or relax on the golden beaches of the Costa Brava or the Costa del Sol. To us, Spain is important for other reasons: the rich Jewish history of Catalonia, Andalusia and the city of Toledo is firmly planted in our national psyche – mainly because of the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th century. We will visit the main sites connected to the Jewish history of Spain, as well as some of the primary sites that attract tourists from all over the world.

Gibraltar is a small peninsula, but it’s huge in history, geology and Jewish warmth. A British crown colony located in the southern Iberian Peninsula, it’s the entrance gate to both the Mediterranean basin as well as a bridge between Europe and Africa. At the foot of the Rock of Gibraltar, one can find a population of about 300,000 people from 16 different faiths, including a warm and close-knit Jewish presence. We visit Gibraltar on Shabbat, which we spend together with the local community, in all its synagogues.

Portugal stands somewhat alone in Europe separated from everyone by its border with Spain. It‘s a small country, but it offer so much: a spectacular Atlantic coastline, dotted with classic and historic fishing villages such as Nazare; majestic mountain ranges and dense forests; and vineyards as far as the eye can see alongside quaint, picturesque hamlets in the Doro Valley. History, monumental architecture, religious and secular art, all finds expression in churches and monasteries both ancient and modern. Combine all this with an entire population that is discovering its Jewish roots, and renewing Jewish life in this beautiful land. Then add warm hospitality, fine wine and great food – and you‘ll discover a Portugal you never knew existed.

An article by Bella Scharf Zelingher about this tour experience on The New Jersey Jewish News – press here>>

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Gaudi never lived to see it finished. During the tour we will be impressed by the architect’s other buildings, which are scattered throughout the city. We will see the Plaza Cataluña, the city’s famous main square, as well as the Columbus column, a monument near the harbor built to honor the famous explorer, Christopher Columbus. We will stroll along the famous, vibrant Ramblas Avenue, as well as the nearby Boqueria Market, which is close by. Finally, we will visit the ancient synagogue of the Rashba – Rabbi Shimon Ben Adret.

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Gerona is one of the centers of Jewish creativity in the Middle Ages and one of the wellsprings of the Kabalah. We’ll wander through the old city’s alleyways to the Jewish quarter, where only street names remain to tell of its glorious past. We’ll visit the museum that displays ancient Jewish tombstones. At the end of the day we’ll head back to Barcelona.

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We will see the Ambassadors’ Hall where the expulsion order of Spanish Jewry was signed by the Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. It was from here that Columbus was sent to discover the “New World”. We will admire the Lions’ courtyard and the Hadasim courtyard, and we will mention them in the amazing context of Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gabirol and Shmuel Hanagid, who was an army minister and the chief minister in the court of the ruler. Our visit to the palace will end with an enjoyable walk in the Generalife, a garden area attached to the Alhambra which became a place of recreation and rest for the Granadan Muslim kings when they wanted to flee the tedium of official life in the Palace. At the end of the visit, we will visit the Caves of Albaysin, where the Gypsies lived in Granada in the past (and some even in the present).

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We will cross the Guadalquivir (the Great River), walking on the ancient Roman bridge, and visit the Old City, which is a testimony to the glorious Jewish community that existed here during the period of the Moorish rule. We will visit the squares and streets that still bear names reminiscent of the Land of Israel, such as Tiberias Square and Yehuda Halevy Square. We will see the statue of the Rambam, erected by the city’s leaders in memory of the “Great Eagle.” We will enter the synagogue named after the Rambam, stroll along the picturesque alleyways and visit the Mezquita, once the great mosque of Cordoba that now serves as the local cathedral.

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Gibraltar is the abbreviation of Jabel al-Tariq – after the Berber conqueror from North Africa who invaded Spain and brought about the beginning of Muslim rule for 800 years. We will see Monkey Colony, walk through the city streets and soak in the British atmosphere that dominates the colony. During the tour we will experience the unique Jewish aspect of the place and will discuss the harmony between the different religions. We‘ll continue to our hotel to prepare for Shabbat.

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The bullfighting tradition was born and grew up here. Generations of bullfighters from the local Romero family have created a legacy of martial art and styles, which to this day are accepted throughout Spain. But Ronda is not only famous for bullfighting. In this stunning city, sitting on its steep cliffs, Ernest Hemingway was inspired to write his book “For Whom the Bells Toll” about the terrible civil war in Spain. After the visit we will continue to Seville. Upon arrival, we will visit the fort of Alcazar and see the magnificent Cathedral of Seville, one of the largest in the world, where Cristopher Columbus is buried. We will continue to the magnificent España Square and see the Spanish Pavilions of South America built for the exhibition planned for the late 1920s. We will continue with a walking tour of the Jewish Quarte, the “Juderia”, now called the Santa Cruz District, and will discuss the city’s Jewish roots and history.

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In the walled city, which has been declared a cultural heritage site by UNESCO, we will find ruins including the oldest Roman Temple in Portugal. A Jewish community was once concentrated in the Juderia district and to this day remains can be found dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as symbols from the Inquisition period, when many “Marranos” were burned at the stake. This city was the headquarters of the Inquisition of Portugal. We will walk through its alleys and visit the Roman temple of Diana.

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In the synagogue there is a display showing the integration of Jews in the town’s famous textile industry and in various other industries. Here, the President of Portugal, Mario Suarez, apologized to the Jewish people for the terrible injustice and murder his people have committed. We will walk through paved alleys and hear about the community that lived here in the past and how they came to accept Christianity by royal decree. We will also see the fortress that gave the city its name. At the end of the tour we will drive to Marvao, the city of the hilltop citadel, and from there we’ll continue to Belmonte, built around a 13th century fortress. The town preserves the history of the Jews well – to such an extent that it is also home to a community former Marranos who, after 500 years without Jewish tradition, decided to return to Judaism in the 1980s.

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After visiting the museum, we will stop at the local synagogue, Beit Eliahu, and become acquainted with the local people and the Shavei Israel organization, which works to help bring the Marranos back to Judaism. We will continue to Guarda, to visit the Jewish Quarter, to see the engravings of various shapes on the door frames of the Marranos. After that we will travel to Trancoso, which was an important Jewish center in the Middle Ages, and visit the synagogue and the newly opened Jewish museum, and if we are lucky, we might meet some of the local Jewish / Marrano residents.

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At the end of the tour we will continue to the old town of Tomar. We will visit the ancient synagogue that was built in 1430 and named after Abraham, a Jewish astronomer and mathematician after whom a crater on the moon is named. We will stroll through the quiet streets of the town, between ancient buildings and conservation sites, and walk up to the impressive 12th century fortress – a Templar monastery that dominates the city. At the end of the visit, we’ll head for Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.

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For the courageous among us there is a real challenge – walking on the town wall. But the reward for accepting the challenge is the amazing view of the surrounding landscapes that are revealed. We‘ll continue to Nazare, a beautiful fishing village that sits atop a rocky outcrop that overlooks the sea. After the tour we will depart to Lisbon, Portugal‘s capital city which sits astride the Tejo river estuary on the Atlantic coast. Lisbon, like Rome, is built upon seven hills. The most famous hill is the Afalma upon which the old city is built, as is Lisbon‘s ancient Jewish quarter. We‘ll make our way to our hotel to prepare for Shabbat.

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Originally it was built as a summer palace for the kings of Portugal. We will see the unique palace with the huge chimneys above its kitchen. We will continue along the coast to the westernmost point of Europe, Cabo de Rocca, and continue to Cascais, the most prestigious resort town in Portugal, and see the “Devil’s throat.” From there we’ll continue to the resort town of Estoril, a town with a casino, hotels and luxurious villas inhabited by some of the world’s the richest people as well as some exiled kings. At the conclusion of this day full of experiences, we will return to our hotel in Lisbon.

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We will visit the district of Belem (Portuguese for Bethlehem), a quarter built on the waterfront and where Vasco da Gama is buried. We will see the Tower of Belem and the monument to the explorers of Portugal. We will climb to the heights of St. George’s Castle overlooking the city and then descend via the winding alleyways of the ancient Alfa district, which also includes the Juderia (the Jewish Quarter). Our fascinating excursion is over. We’ll go to the airport in Lisbon and fly back home.

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* Price per person in USD double or twin room

** Supplement Price for single room


Price Includes:

Superior tourist class/First class hotel
Entrance fees as per the itinerary
Comfortable air-conditioned touring coach
Kosher half board & supplies for making sandwiches for lunch
Tips for local service providers
Professional experienced English-speaking guide

Price Excludes:

International flights and taxes
Travel & Health Insurance
Personal expenses
Tip for our Tour Guide (Recommended: $5 per person per day)

Important to Know:

There may be changes to the order of places visited. We will make every effort to visit every place mentioned in the itinerary.
The tour organizers have no control over airline services such as seating, special meal requests, changes in departure times or delays. These remain the sole responsibility of the airline company.

Kashrut on Tours

Only strictly kosher food is provided to our travelers on all our tours. On some of our tours we are able to provide glatt meals. Kashrut is of utmost importance to us and we take special measures to ensure that everything served is kosher.

The meals:

Breakfast is prepared using our utensils. We use local fresh fruits and vegetables, and we use milk products when they are permitted. We use kosher cereals, and bread. We usually serve hard boiled eggs and sometimes scrambled eggs or omelets. At breakfast, we prepare our lunches so that people have their choice as to what they eat for lunch. We bring food from Israel to supplement what is served in the hotel such as cheeses, peanut butter, tuna, etc.
For dinners, we serve either fish or meat (usually chicken) as our main course. In areas where meat is not available nor readily acquired, we will have fish. When possible, we acquire the meat locally from Chabad or other reliable kosher source, and in some cases we fly the meat in from Israel. We try to provide as many meat meals as possible. The main course at dinner is preceded by soup and salad and accompanied by freshly prepared vegetables. Dessert typically consists of fresh fruits.
We do not guarantee Pat Israel and Chalav Israel for all destinations.
In many destinations we have our own dishes and silverware. Where we don’t, we provide disposables at the meals. When we cook in hotel kitchens, we use our own knives, cutting boards, pots and pans, cooking implements and disposable metal trays. All food preparation is done on covered surfaces under the strict supervision of our trained staff/guides who function as our mashgichim.
We make great efforts to assure that our travelers will experience local foods first-hand, while maintaining stringent observance of Kashrut laws on all occasions.
On most of our tours, you will be accompanied by two of our staff members- one a guide for the tour who is knowledgeable about the places you are visiting and will accompany you throughout the day and the second, a person who will deal with the logistics of the tour and provide kashrut supervision in the kitchen.


It is our aim to provide the finest hotel possible in each area we visit. We require our hotels to allow us to work in the kitchen and to supervise the cooking and there are many hotels that are not willing to cooperate. They simply have no desire for us to be “meddling” in their cooking process nor are they happy about our bringing our equipment into their kitchens. We work very hard to find the best hotel in the area that will meet our requirements. Because we are not ready to compromise on kashrut, we may not always be able to use a five star hotel.

Deposit, Cancellation Fees & Policy:

A $500 USD Deposit per person must be received at the time of booking in order to confirm your reservation. Payment in full is due 60 days before departure. A minimum number of participants are required to operate tour dates. If a minimum number has not been reached prior to tour departure and the tour is cancelled you will receive a FULL refund.

• 60 working days before departure bookings are refundable less a $100 administration fee
• 30-59 working days prior to departure 25% of total per passenger
• 15-29 days prior to departure: 50% of total per passenger
• Less than 30 working days prior to departure: 100% of total – no refund

We strongly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance.