The Girona Jewish quarter is one of the best preserved in the world, and an evident example of the importance of Jewish culture in Girona. From Draps, we want to propose you the route that I made through its small and humid streets of typical medieval stone, that will allow you to feel the rumor of an era that approaches stealthily towards you.
There are many spaces in the Girona Jewish quarter that you can visit, but we have made a small selection, so you do not miss the essential places. These are small relics that help us put the Jewish legacy into context and understand its weight in today’s Girona. And after long five centuries of the expulsion of the Jewish community, it is a privilege to be able to walk through the fascinating alleys of the city.
Unlike what happens in many other places in the peninsula, the Girona Jewish quarter preserves some of its buildings very well, such as Sant Llorenç street, which was the heart of the Jewish quarter. Another street that fascinates everyone who walks in for being especially narrow and for its high buildings is La Força street (connected to Sant Llorenç); one of the first that the Jews inhabited and which is part of the Inventory of the Architectural Heritage of Catalonia. The encounter with a mezuzah in this street speaks to you through the stories of the past that whispering in your ear.
Once you are located on this street, it costs nothing to close your eyes and imagine the year 1480 – a time of conversions and accusations – and feel the hustle of the streets that once belonged to them, the people up and down, the furriers, the weavers, the doctors and the merchants.
In this same street is the house Colls-Labayen, a building of mixed Romanesque and Gothic style, almost in its original state. It was owned in its day by a Jewish family and during its long history has passed into the hands of the church and other private owners.
And with this spectacular vision I understood it: the Jewish quarter must be lived through its walls, the forged iron and the slabs that trace the road through the narrow streets.
For those who wish to feel part of the history and know first-hand the daily life of the Jews of medieval Girona and their customs, the Museum of Jewish History is a must-stop in the Bonastruc ça Porta Centre (where, precisely, the synagogue of the Jewish quarter was located). A tour of images, documents and other exhibits that reveal this important past of Girona awaits you.
Did you know that Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman was born in Girona in 1194? This philosopher, poet and doctor was a wise man who left his mark on the history of the city and throughout Catalonia. Its history captivated me even more when I found in the museum that it is the famous Bonastruc ça Porta (its name in Catalan).
To continue your journey among the labyrinthine framework of the Jewish quarter, the Arab baths of Girona are a must. This installation, which existed in all the Jewish quarters of the time, is located in Ferran el Catòlic street. The most attractive part of this complex, which dates back to no less than the 12th century, is a small dome that appears above a stone building-the lantern of the bathrooms. What captivated me the most, however, was the beauty of the game between light and shadow of this Romanesque construction, which is also governed by the building regulations of Roman baths, Muslim baths and Jewish baths.