La Bobadilla 5* resort strategically placed between Malaga, Granada & Cordoba: 3 nights
In 711 the Moors (Muslim Arabs) over-ran Southern Spain, crossing the narrow straits to today’s Gibraltar (from Jabal Tariq, the general who led the conquest).
In Andalucia we will see how the 3 great cultures of the Jewish, Christian and Moslem religions flourished during the Middle Ages. We’ll visit Ibn Gvirol’s Malaga, Rambam’s Cordoba, once the biggest city in all of Europe and Granada, former home of the Ibn Ezra, Judah HaLevi and Shmuel HaNagid. Here in Granada, in the incomparably beautiful Alhambra Palace, the infamous Decree of Expulsion was signed in 1492 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
Our base for this Part I is La Bobadilla Resort, a Leading Hotels of the World property tucked away in the gorgeous countryside almost equidistant from the three towns we will visit. It would be wrong not to let you also enjoy the hotel’s wonderful facilities, so the program makes that possible too.
The hotel’s chefs will introduce you to some Spanish specialties, served in our own restaurant overlooking the gardens. We’ll be treated, inter alia, to gazpacho and paella, in a version that meets our kosher requirements, of course!!
Sunborn 5* Yacht Gibraltar for Shabbat and Morocco day-trip: 3 nights
En route to Gibraltar we will visit romantic Ronda, built atop an enormous gorge with a dry river below. Ronda is famed for its beauty, its stunning position and for its bullfighting ring, said to be the oldest in Spain. Less well-known is the Jewish history about which we’ll hear. We’ll make time for a coffee in the beautiful old town of Marbella as well as eyeballing Puerto Banus – marina to the super rich and famous and the center of the Costa del Sol jet-set.
Gibraltar with its Rock is unique. It is proudly British, with a tiny but vibrant, extremely influential, almost totally observant Jewish community. Entering Gibraltar, you will immediately be aware that you are in the British Empire, with "bobbies", typically English red "post" boxes and Marks & Spencers in the High Street. During Shabbat and On Monday morning we’ll sight-see the Jewish and general highlights with a visit to the Upper Reserve, home of the famous Gibraltar apes. Anyone you ask will tell you Shabbat in “Gib” is NOT to be missed!!
We’re heading to Tangier for a glimpse of North Africa. We’ll get an overview of the city, driving along the main boulevards and into the fashionable residential districts with their magnificent villas and lovely gardens.
Most of the Jews left Tangier during the last 70 years, in several waves, to Israel, Canada, France and the US.
Less than 100 Jews remain, all elderly. We will try to visit two synagogues, one in the Mellah, the Jewish quarter, beautiful but unused; the other is a modern synagogue in the new city where prayers are held on Shabbat and Chagim.
After lunch, we’ll round off our “day in Africa” with a stroll through the picturesque winding streets and souks of the Medina to visit the Berber markets.
Alfonso XIII 5* Seville: 1 Night
Seville, capital of Andalucía, immortalized in opera classics such as "The Barber of Seville," "Carmen" and "Don Giovanni."
Here, the imposing Cathedral is one of the largest in the world and the resting place of Spanish Kings and Queens, as well as that of Christopher Columbus. No one knows if his remains are there.
Then there is the Alcazar Palace, still used as a residence for the Spanish Royal Family and the grand Plaza Espana, site of the pavilion of the great 1929 exhibition. Last but not least, we'll visit the Barrio de Santa Cruz - the former Jewish Quarter. Today, it is one of Seville's most charming areas.
We’ll spend one night here before flying off to Porto to begin our Portuguese adventure.
The Yeatman 5* Porto: 3 nights
Over our 3 days spent in the north of Portugal we’ll visit the unique synagogue of Porto, the largest in the Iberian peninsula, where we’ll hear the ultimately tragic story of Carlos de Barros Basto.
Porto is a beautiful city, and the source of all Port Wine. There is Kosher Port produced from time to time and we’ll try to get some for you to taste. The city’s waterfront is a World Heritage monument.
Another stop is Coimbra, one of the most ancient university cities in Europe with a richly decorated baroque library that people travel from far and wide to see. The walls are covered by two storied shelves, in gilded or painted exotic woods; the painted ceilings blend harmoniously with the rest of the decoration. The library contains about 250,000 volumes: works of medicine, geography, history, humanistic studies, science, civil and canonical law, philosophy and theology. We’ll also visit the ancient Jewish quarter.
For many the highlight of the entire tour, we will spend a day visiting the towns of Belmonte and Trancoso. Climbing up from Porto we reach the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, in many of whose villages Jews were settled. After visiting Portugal’s highest town, Guarda, we will reach the centre of the “lost tribe” of Belmonte.
The history of this community which survived the inquisition and remained in hiding until discovered in the 1920’s is incredible. For only the past 25 years or so, the Jews of Belmonte have been exposed to modern Orthodox Judaism. The majority of the young people have now made Aliya.
We say good-bye to the Yeatman Hotel, Porto, where we will have dined sumptuously and enjoyed the fabulous property’s facilities, to travel south.
Our first stop is at Tomar, home to Portugal’s oldest synagogues and the Abraham Zacuto Portuguese Jewish Museum, a national monument.
The Sinagoga de Tomar was built in the mid-15th century. Its short history as a Jewish place of worship came to an end in 1496, when the community was expelled by the Catholic authorities in 1496.
Samuel Schwartz, a Jewish mining engineer from Poland, bought the building in 1923. After lovingly restoring it, he donated it to the Portuguese state in 1939. In return, Schwartz and his wife received Portuguese citizenship and protection during WW2.
From Tomar we continue to Obidos, a medieval walled and beautiful village.
After an hour or so there we’ll arrive in Lisbon with time to prepare for Shabbat.
After Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat in the city’s beautiful synagogue we will enjoy Shabbat dinner in the Dom Pedro Palace, our hotel.
Shabbat in Lisbon will be spent with shul, meals and expertly guided walking tours. There is a lot to see in Lisbon and we will see as much as can be organized without any infringement of Shabbat; some institutions will let us pre- or post-pay, so that we can visit inside many of the city’s most fascinating sights. After Shabbat – evening out “on the town” in Lisbon.
On Sunday we’ll complete our touring and bring you to the airport with a packed picnic lunch in time for the afternoon flights back home.