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JEWISH TORTOSA



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Alió
JEWISH TORTOSA



Tortosa, a two-thousand-year-old city, has a rich heritage that allows the visitor to follow in the steps of the peoples that have inhabited it throughout history. Jews, Christians and Saracens lived together in the Middle Ages, in a city with direct access to the Mediterranean Sea through one of its most precious assets: the Ebro River.     The first Jews The first Jews were probably taken in by the Roman Dertusa, although their presence was not documented until the 6th century, thanks to the dating of the renowned trilingual tombstone, a funerary stele with an inscription in Hebrew, Greek and Latin which can be admired in Saint Mary’s Cathedral permanent Exhibition.     The splendour It is at the time of Al-Andalus Turtuxa (8th to 12th centuries) that the Jewish community enjoys a period of prosperity thanks to the city’s bordering position and trading tradition. In the 10th century, in this quarter, it is not strange to find important figures such as Menahem ben Saruk, poet and philologist, author of the first Hebrew grammar and dictionary called Mahberet, and the doctor Ibrahim ben Iacob, whose reports of his trading trips in central and eastern Europe are a valuable geographical description.     The Jewish quarter Once Turtuxa was conquered in 1148, king Ramon Berenguer IV donated the shipyards to the Jewish community, giving birth to the Old Jewish Quarter, the first district inhabited exclusively by Jews. The synagogue, the baker’s and the butcher’s, all of which have now disappeared, have been situated with the help of documented sources. The New Jewish Quarter was founded in the 13th century and today there are still some remains: a section of the 14th century city walls that includes the Cèlio Tower, and the Jewish or the Blacksmith’s Gateway, which gives access to the Jewish cemetery.     Under the wing of the castle The 14th century witnesses a period of strong social pressure. During the riots of 1391, most of the Jewish quarters in Spain are plundered. In Tortosa the uprising was not as bloody as in other places since, under the king’s orders, the local authorities decided the imprisonment of the Jews in the Castle of La Suda, in order to protect them.           The Tortosa Controversy (1413-1414) Pope Benedict XIII summoned the most prestigious rabbis in the Crown of Aragon to discuss the arrival of the Messiah and the loss of sense of the Jewish religion. This meeting took place in the Cathedral. Almost all of the rabbis that took part abjured their faith, with the subsequent wave of persecutions and mass conversions. Repression ended with the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492. Following the course of the Ebro River, three thousand Jews from Catalonia and Aragon embarked towards Italy.   Other important figures: Sem Tob ben Issac (13th century): among other works, he translated the Treatise of medicine by Albucassis, one of the most prominent Al-Andalus doctors, from Arabic to Hebrew. Salomó Maymó: (15th century): Rabbi who represented the city’s Jewish community at the Tortosa Controversy. Jacob Mantino (16th century): Exiled in Italy, he was an important translator of philosophical and scientific works from Hebrew and Arabic to Latin, and also the official doctor of the Pope Paulo III and professor of Medicine. You can’t miss: The trilingual stele, a unique piece as, so far, there is not another one written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. Since 1985, there has been a photograph reproduction of it in the Museum of the Chamber of the Holocaust in Jerusalem. The Jewish giants Caxixa and Bonjhuà who represent two true characters They are displayed in the Gothic Llotja in the Municipal Park and they are part of the trilogy of giants representing the Jewish, Christian and Saracen communities. Did you know that… The Jewish community of Tortosa was one of oldest in the Iberian Peninsula? The “garrofetes of Papa Luna “ are typical cookies made of flour, eggs, sugar, lemon essence and butter, and according to tradition, Benedict XIII, the Papa Luna ate them in order to relieve his stomachache?



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