Jewish Architecture in Zaragoza


Judaism has very strong roots in Aragon, and Zaragoza was its epicenter. While in other places, like Castille, Valencia and Catalonia, Jews were being persecuted and expulsed, something unusual was happening here. Aragon became known as "the land of the three faiths", and in a unique atmosphere of tolerance, Muslims, Christians and Jews all lived side by side. Under this special spirit of balance all three communities flourished, especially the Jewish - or Sephardic, as they were called - community.

However, after 1492, many Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism, and having done so, were able to stay.  It was also during this time that many expulsed Jewish people from Seville, Barcelona and Valencia moved to Aragon, making it one of the main centers for Jews in Spain.  By the end of the 15th century, the Jewish community made up 10% of the population in Zaragoza, and 25% of Aragon.  However, after the Spanish Inquisiton, almost all Jews were systematically expulsed from Spain and much of their architecture destroyed. Yet, despite all that, an endless amount of treasures have indeed been found here, proving just how rich and deep the Hebrew heritage was. 


Zaragoza had two Jewish quarters: the old one, which was within the Roman walls, and the new one, which was on the other side of Coso street. The Christian and Jewish area used to be seperated by gates, which were to be found in Plaza San Gil, San Lorenzo and in Plaza Magdalena in the old historic center.  There is also evidence of a Jewish castle, a hospital, a butchers shop and several synagogues. On Coso street, there are remains of Jewish baths from 1226, and a large synagogue once stood where the Real Seminario de San Carlos now stands. Check out the Patio de la Infanta for a good example of Rennaissance architecture with Jewish influences. It is a courtyard that was owned by a well-known Jewish banker who had it designed in the shape of an astral chart. 

To see other well-preserved examples of Jewish Architecture in the province of Zaragoza, you can visit the nearby villages of: Tarazona, Ejea, Biel, Borja, Tauste, Luna, Ruesta, Uncastillo, El Frago, Calatayud and Daroca.