Central Spain

Central Spain

Jewish  tours to Central Spain: The Secret Soul of Jewish Iberia

There is more to Spain than Madrid and Barcelona, but – with the possible addition of Alhambra – most travelers never explore beyond these two well-known metropolises. Our Jewish tour to Central Spain uncovers the treasures of magnificent Toledo, winding toward smaller towns in the province of Castile-Leon – towns like Avila, Segovia, Bejar, Hervas, Caceres, Candelario. Even the sound of these names is incantatory, hinting of mysteries deep in the soul of this land. For the Jewish traveler, what can be more exciting than to journey back to a time when Sephardic influences mingled with Latin, and Moorish curlicues enhanced and adorned a Jewish Golden Age?

The land of Ladino poetry and song, the seat of transcendent Kabbalah scholarship, the center of the intellectual world: This is the heritage of Jewish Spain. Imagine a place where harmony reigned among the three Abrahamic religions, where every stone still carries strong echoes of our past. A brief excursion to Belmonte in Portugal completes this sophisticate’s tour of Jewish Iberia.

Tour Information
Jewish tour to Central Spain
Avila – Segovia – Bejar -Candelario – Salamance – Belmonte – Hervas – Caceres – Toledo
Duration: 8 days
2019 Dates:
May 15 – May 22
Price Per Person:
$ 3,390 Land only
$ 790 Single supplement
Avila, 2 nights
Palacio De Los Velada Hotel
Salamanca, 3 nights
Abba Fonseca Hotel
Caceres, 1 night
Caceres Parador Hotel
Toledo, 1 night.
San Juan De Los Reyes Hotel
7 breakfasts (B)
2 lunches (L)
3 dinners (D)
Included Services:
First Class Hotels (4 Star)
Breakfast daily at the hotels
Deluxe air-conditioned transporttion
In-Depth program
Entrance fees as per the itinerary
Professional tour director
Professional local guides in each city
Tips (except to tour director, drivers & guides).
Pre/Post Tours:
We can accommodate pre or post tour arrangements in conjunction with this departure.
Passport and Visa:
No visa is required for this tour.
Always make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the tour ends.
Not Included:
R/T flights from the USA.
Meals and service not mentioned.
Tips to tour director, Drivers & guides.
All expenses of personal nature.


Day 01 Wednesday Arrival – Madrid – Avila 

The Central Spain tour begins at the Madrid Airport. Here you meet your Tour Director, who will welcome you to Spain. “Sepharad” is indeed the Hebrew word for Spain, so it is fitting that we begin the story with a brief tour of the capital of the country.  The tour of the capital, includes visits to the Synagogue and the main squares, Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. Next, journey into the autonomous region of Castile and Leon to the scenic town of Avila. Perched on the summit of a rocky hill, this was a place where Jews, Muslims and Christians once lived together in harmony. As we near this town, the looming medieval walls are nothing short of breath-taking.Welcome Dinner. Palacio De Los Velada Hotel. (D)

Day 2 Thursday May 14 Avila – Segovia – Avila

This morning, travel to Segovia, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Begin your tour with a walking tour in the former Juderia (Jewish Quarter), reflecting a history that can be traced back to 1215.  Visit the Convent Corpus Christi (despite its name and function, a former Synagogue), the Jewish Museum and El Alcázar, a majestic medieval fortress. Thoughout the visit in Segovia be captivated by the ancient Roman Aqueduct – a defining architectural feature of this town that dates back to the First Century CE.  After Lunch, return to Ávila, for a walking tour of its two Jewish Quarters, where Jews used to live a far back as the 11th century. Remainder of the day at leisure. Palacio De Los Velada Hotel. (B/L)

Day 3 Friday May 15 Avila – Bejar – Candelario – Salamanca

Today, we travel westward to Bejar – a province of Salamanca. The name is thought to derive from a pre-Roman language, and means “place of the beehives” (it may also be a cognate of the Spanish word for bee, “abeja”). Next, embark on a walking tour, including the Jewish Museum David Melul, a beautiful collection that explores the best of Sephardic culture. Now, on to Candelario for a stroll in this picturesque mountain village in Central Spain. Continue to Salamanca and check-in at the hotel. Dinner.  Abba Fonseca Hotel. (B/D)

Day 4 Saturday, May 16 Salamanca

Today is devoted to  Salamanca, once a seat of Jewish learning, and also one of Europe’s oldest college towns. In expression of both these facets, a statue just outside the 12th century University honors Fray Luís de León, the poet-priest and Hebrew scholar who descended from Jewish conversos (forcibly converted Spanish Jews). This translator of the first Spanish version of the “Song of Songs” was dragged off by the Inquisition (he spent years imprisoned before returning to his classroom). Begin with a walking tour of the Old Town and see the Plaza Mayor (one of Spain’s most delightful public spaces), the eye-catching Casa de las Conchas (which, as its name implies, is covered with “shells”), the popular Art Nouveau/Art Déco Museum (built in 1995), and the Jewish Quarter – a well-preserved enclave, one of the oldest in the Spanish Empire, that is Salamanca’s jewel and main attraction. Abba Fonseca Hotel. (B)

Day 5 Sunday May 17 Salamanca – Belmonte (Portugal) – Salamanca

The travel continues to Belmonte, Portugal, just across the border from Central Spain. This minute locale, population under 7,000, is home to hundreds of Jews who survived the Inquisition by practicing secretly. These brave souls are the only “hidden Jews” (formerly known by the pejorative name, “Marranos,”) known to live in the Iberian peninsula. Until 1990, they continued to protect their privacy and secret faith. Now, they openly proclaim their Jewishness, and have been received warmly by the Portuguese. (Spain, taking notice, is currently welcoming all hidden Jews of its past to return – and gain full citizenship!). The Jews of Belmonte can be found in carefully preserved stone houses, as we will see on a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter. Lunch served during the tour. Visit the Synagogue and the Museum of Portuguese Jewish History, located in a repurposed 18th century Catholic schoolhouse. Afterwards, cross into Central Spain again and return to Salamanca. Abba Fonseca Hotel. (B/L)

Day 6 Monday May 18 Salamanca – Hervas – Caceres

Travel to Hervas. See the Old Town of this picturesque village, which used to house one of the most important Jewish settlements in the area. As in Belmonte, some post-Inquisition Jews continued to practice their faith in secret, making the Hervas Juderia one of the most interesting in all of Spain. Next,travel to historic Caceres. Upon arrival, see the Old Town – a Unesco World Heritage Site — and former Jewish Quarter, with its narrow streets and picturesque, whitewashed houses. See the Ermita San Antonio (formerly a synagogue) and Baluarte de los Pozos, a 12th century watchtower accessed through the Juderia. Check-in at the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Parador hotel. (B)

Day 7 Tuesday May 19 Caceres – Toledo

Journey to magnificent Toledo in Central Spain. On arrival, embark on a walking tour of its Jewish Quarter. Visit the Sinagoge Santa María la Blanca, whose very name, a paradoxical blend of Judaism and Catholicism, speaks volumes. Originally known as the “Ibn Shushan” Synagogue, it was built in 1180, and is the oldest standing synagogue in Europe. Its conversion into a church in the 1400s made it a central locale for the Spanish Inquisition, which followed at the end of that century, after which the Jewish population was exiled from Iberia. Now, over five hundred years later, “Ibn Shushan” stands again, part of a museum complex that testifies to the Jewish past that lies everywhere dormant here. Next, visit the El Transito Sinagoge – also part of the Sephardic Museum. This great synagogue was founded by Samuel Ha-Levi Abulafia in the mid 14th century. Generations of this well-known family consorted with Kings, and included Kabbalists, Torah scholars, and poets whose style blended Islamic and Jewish influences. The building itself, particularly its stucco décor, recalls the flavor of Moorish Alhambra. Later, visit El Greco’s house – celebrating the painter whose  “View of Toledo” is a work of expressive genius. Your view is even richer – it contains the vital Sephardic perspective. This evening featuresa Farewell Dinner. San Juan De Los Reyes Hotel. (B/D)

Day 8 Wednesday May 20 Toledo – Madrid airport

Transfer to Madrid Airport for return flights homeward. (B)

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