October 31, 2008

The Last Drops of Girona.

A view outside at the Jewish museum

A close-up of a cool tiled piece at the musuem

One of the many alleyways in the Call

After making a good walk up and around the cathedral and wall, I walked down Carrer de la Forca which was the main road of the Call (Catalan for Jewish Quarter; Barcelona has one too) and the narrowest in town. Girona is known for many things but one major piece of history is that it was the home to a large Jewish population between the 9th and 15th century. The end of their time there was not a happy one as little by little they had been quarantined, then persecuted, then eventually expelled from the country by Ferdinand & Isabella in 1492 (unless they chose to convert). I learned a lot about what Jewish life was like not only in Girona specifically (where for a good amount of time the Jews and the Christians lived together in harmony and the king at the time had kept them safe), but also in the region of Catalunya at the Museu d’Historia dels Jueus (Jewish Museum) where I spent almost two hours and read everything top to bottom. It didn’t have much original artwork but more reproductions of art. It did have original artifacts and a whole room of pieces of gravestones that were found after the destruction of Montjuic (the Jewish graveyard…not the same as the one in Barcelona) in the late 15th century. I found it all so interesting since I didn’t know much about Jewish history in Catalunya, but at the same time really sad.

I left the museum and wandered around the small streets again, with their narrow staircases and arched entryways popping into a few shops (since it had started raining while I was in the museum) and through a small farmer’s market in one of the plazas over the river. Eventually it was time to head to the train station where I waited thirty minutes for the train and headed back to Barcelona. It had been a great second day of not only sightseeing but learning SO much about more of the history of Catalunya.

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