Portugal

Portugal 10 days

Jewish Tours to Portugal:

Portugal in Depth

Jewish Lisbon toursThe Jewish presence in Iberia has existed long before Portugal itself became a country. The contribution of Portuguese Jews to the arts, philosophy, commerce and sciences helped create the rich cultural heritage of this nation. Our tour focuses on places of Jewish interest, as well as the fascinating people who continue to contribute to Portuguese society. These descendants of the Inquisition, often referred to as Marranos, are now known as the B’nai Anousim (Children of Oppression). Forced to convert during those awful days, many secretly, and over the centuries, retained their precious Jewish practices, as well as pride in their true heritage. These are the Secret Jews of Portugal – proof, to this day, that our people’s soul cannot be vanquished.

You will see Lisbon, Porto, and Belmonte, as well as unique medieval towns (such as Marvao) that boast of Jewish history, and taste the wines of the Douro region. Staying at gorgeous hotels, you will enjoy both physical luxury and a deep Iberian-Jewish experience.

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Tour Information
Portugal Jewish tour – 10 Days
Lisbon – Estoril – Carcais – Évora – Marvão – Castelo de Vide – Covilhã – Belmonte – Guarda – Trancoso – Lamego – Douro Valley – Porto
Duration: 10 Days
2024 Departures:
March 11 – March 20
September 9  – September 18
$4,099 Land Only
$890 Single Supplement
2025 Spring Departure:
March 17 – March 26
$4,199 Land Only
$950 Single Supplement
Accommodations:
Lisbon, 3 nights PortoBay Liberdade Hotel
Marvão, 1 night Pousada de Marvão
Belmonte, 2 nights Mt Sinai Hotel or Pousada de Belmonte
Duoro, 1 night Vintage House Hotel
Porto, 2 nights PortoBay Flores Hotel
Meals:
9 breakfasts (B)
Included Highlights:
Private transfers
Private touring and sightseeing
Private licensed guides
Locally hosted with 5 or less travelers
Full time Tour Director with 6 or more travelers
Douro River cruise and wine tasting
Private licensed guides
Deluxe accommodation in Lisbon, Marvão, Douro Valley, Porto
First Class accommodation in Belmonte
Breakfast daily at the hotels
Complete program with insights
to the Jewish history of Portugal and other highlights of the country
All taxes and fees
These departures are guaranteed (4 travelers minimum)
Pre/Post Tours:
We can accommodate pre/post tour arrangements in conjunction with this departure.
Passport & Visa:
No visa is required for travel to Portugal.  Always make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the tour ends.
Not Included:
Flights
Optional pre, post or other private tour arrangements
Services not mentioned
Meals not mentioned
Expenses of personal nature
Travel insurance (strongly recommended)
Jewish tours Portugal 10 Days map

Itinerary

Day 1 Monday Arrival in Lisbon

Arrival at Lisbon airport. Transfer to your hotel in the heart of this beautiful city. In the afternoon, begin a panoramic sightseeing tour of Lisbon. Passing the Rossio, reach the Largo da Graça, from where you can admire the magnificent city view, the Tagus River, and the “Seven Hills” of Lisbon. Continue to Porta do Sol, descending on foot through Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest area, to the “Rua da Judiaria” the old Jewish Quarter, with its narrow, cobbled streets. You will also stand in the Praça do Comércio, where the dreaded “Autos-de-Fé” of the Inquisition took place. Return to the hotel. Remainder of the day at leisure. PortoBay Liberdade Hotel. (B)

Day 2 Tuesday Lisbon

This morning, visit the Shaare Tikva Synagogue, restored in 2004. Continue your panoramic visit in Lisbon to the Riverside area. Belém-Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most representative monuments of Manueline style in Portugal. View the Monument to the Discoveries, which owes much to the Portuguese Jews and “New-Christians,” as many forced converts were called. From Torre de Belém, guarding the mouth of the Tagus River, explorers once set out on voyages to discover trade routes to Africa, Asia and the New World. (Brazil, of course, is the most famous product of these journeys.) See the striking monument, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, which celebrates the Portuguese adventurers who took part in the Golden Age of Discovery. Return to the hotel in the afternoon. PortoBay Liberdade Hotel. (B)

Day 3 Wednesday Lisbon – Estoril – Sintra – Cascais – Lisbon 

In the morning, visit the Shaare Tikva Synagogue, restored in 2004. Next, depart for a small but significant Portuguese treasure, Cascais, a beach resort beloved by Lisbon’s Jewish community. During the Holocaust, this town also sheltered Jewish refugees, and Cascais’ Municipality has opened the Espaço do Exilio Estoril (Exiles’ Memorial Center) to honor this memory. Recently, the Rabbi of the vibrant Jewish Center, R. Eli Rosenfeld, published a groundbreaking book, Jewish Voices for Portugal, which highlights the wisdom of six Portuguese-Jewish commentators (among them, the 15th century scholars Isaac Abarbanel and Joseph Karo) on the Torah. It is worth noticing, the preface of the book was written by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Portuguese Republic, and Carlos Carreiras, Mayor of Caiscais. During the visit to the center, you will see documents dating back 500 years.

Next, continue to Sintra, a World Heritage Site also known as “Lord Byron’s Glorious Eden.” Sintra was used as a retreat by the Romans, the Moors, and the Portuguese Kings, all of whom revelled in its location, beauty, wooded ravines, and natural water springs. Its former Jewish Quarter, where Jews lived and mixed at the Court before the forced conversions of 1497, is still visible today. Visit the glorious National Royal Palace. In the afternoon, return to Lisbon. PortoBay Liberdade Hotel. (B)

Day 4 Thursday Lisbon – Évora – Marvão

In the morning, drive to Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the main Inquisition Centers of Portugal. In the past, Évora boasted one of the largest Jewish communities in Portugal, and several houses still bear traces of the old Mezuzot. See the Court of the Inquisition and the Inquisitor’s Palace, which displays the coat of arms of the “Holy” Office. Later, continue to Marvão, a geranium-filled, walled village perched on a high rocky peak. Many Jews once lived in Marvão. The Museum Municipal houses two tombstones decorated with carved menorahs, telling of the former Jewish presence. A few houses still retain carved crosses on the door posts – paradoxically, a sign of Jewish survival. These blatant signs were a necessity at a time when Jews were forced to identify as Christians (and yet carried on their traditions in secret). Check in at the hotel. Check in at the hotel. In the evening, relax at the Pousada while appreciating a magnificent view of the hilly surroundings. Pousada de Marvão. (B)

Day 5 Friday  Marvão – Castelo de Vide – Covilhã – Belmonte

Depart to Castelo de Vide, famed for its authentic medieval Juderia (Jewish Quarter). Along the maze of narrow cobbled alleys nestled beneath the Castle, we find a 15th Century Synagogue and adjacent religious school, recently restored by using the original architectural lines, including the Rabbi’s home, the village fountain, and even the oven used for baking. The Interpretation Center of Garcia de Orta and the House of the Inquisition are two new projects that complement the visit to the village, offering unmissable contents and experiences.

On route to Belmonte, stop at Covilhã and visit Museu dos Lanifícios, an 18th Century woolen-textile factory, accidentally discovered during the enlargement of the adjacent University. The textile industry was once dominated by the Jews of the region. Upon arrival at Belmonte, check in at the only Jewish hotel in Portugal. You have an option to join Shabbat Services with the local Community at the Beit Eliahu Synagogue. Mt. Sinai Hotel or Pousada de Belmonte. (B)

Day 6 Saturday Belmonte

Enjoy a full day of rest in Belmonte, or join an optional tour. Crowned by the medieval castle, the town of Belmonte stands out for the beauty of its landscapes and monuments, as well as for its fabulous strategic position, which has for centuries made it dominate territories and communication routes. To its credit, Belmonte also welcomed people of other creeds and cultures. A Jewish community was established that has survived for centuries. It still exists today – heir to the ancient historical presence of the Sephardic Jews. Even throughout the time of the Inquisition, Jews managed to preserve many of their rites, prayers, and social relations. Despite the pressure of the Catholics, many “New Christians” continued to marry only among themselves for centuries. In 1989, the community was officially recognized, and in 1996, it inaugurated the synagogue “Beit Eliahu” (Elijah’s House), appropriately located in the old Jewish Quarter.

The Jewish Cemetery was restored in 2001, and in 2005, the Jewish Museum opened, portraying the history of the Sephardic presence in Portugal, and including a memorial of the Inquisition. Since 2011, Belmonte has also hosted the “Portuguese Network of Jewish Quarters.”  This Community consists of twenty-five families, all descendants of the “Secret Jews” who perpetuated their religion against all odds for centuries. In Belmonte’s old Jewish Quarter, we can observe small houses with crosses engraved on them – a protective pretence by Jewish people to escape persecution. Optional visit to Caria, where such crosses can also be seen, in abundance and a variety of forms. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Mt Sinai Hotel or Pousada de Belmonte. (B)

Day 7 Sunday Belmonte – Guarda – Trancoso – Lamego – Douro Valley 

Leave Belmonte this morning and head to Guarda, to visit its Jewish Quarter. Guarda is a 12th century town, once home to a thriving Jewish Community. It was also the scene for the love story between a Portuguese King and a Jewish shoemaker’s daughter, whose descendant would take the throne as João IV! Jews have lived here since the 13th Century. Recently, a repair at “Bandarra’s shop” led to the discovery of a long-lost arch with inscriptions believed to be that of the synagogue. Continue to Trancoso, a well-preserved walled town. The Jewish presence in Trancoso dates back to the 12th century. In the Medieval Era, Jews prospered in the middle and upper classes. The Jewish and “New Christian” legacy still lives in the written documents, local traditions and in buildings such as the Gato Preto House, or Poço do Mestre (Master’s well), and other dwellings of the historic center. The town of Trancoso has honored its Jewish heritage with the establishment of the Isaac Cardoso Center for Jewish Interpretation, along with a new synagogue called Beit Mayim Hayim – “the House of Living Waters.” A mezuza was affixed to the entrance of the synagogue – the first mezuza in the village for hundreds of years!

Continue to the Douro Valley and visit Lamego. Its history has been associated to its immense Jewish Community that was responsible for the trade and craft dynamics that livened up the city in the late Middle Ages. Visit the Old Jewish quarter from the 13th century, and continue to the unmissable Douro Valley, a Unesco Landscape – and the world’s first demarcated wine region. Spend the tranquil night in a boutique hotel by the river. Vintage House Hotel. (B)

Day 8 Monday Douro Valley – Porto

This morning, enjoy a cruise up from Pinhão in a traditional wooden boat that will slowly make its way up the river to the region’s most beautiful hillsides and famous wine estates, or quintas. Douro’s landscape of terraced vineyards is breathtaking. Later, at a traditional Estate, enjoy a wine-tasting. Later, proceed to Porto, capital of northern Portugal, beautifully located above the Douro River.  Check-in at the hotel. PortoBay Flores Hotel. (B)

Day 9 Tuesday Porto

Enjoy a walking tour in the old quarter or Baixa, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. Visit the Cathedral, dazzling in its mixture of Romantic and Baroque elements, before descending to the Ribeira area, where we find the characteristic stone quays beautifully restored. Porto was well known among the Jewish traders during the Middle Ages, and today its Jewish Quarter remains. You will see both “Rua Monte Judeus” and “Escadas da Esnoga” (which mean “Street of the Jewish Hill” and “Stairway to the Synagogue”), as well as a panoramic view of Dona Maria Bridge (designed by the famous Gustave Eiffel), and the picturesque Riverside area. Besides it historic aspects, Porto is also a contemporary and artistic city. This is visible everywhere, in the streets, architecture, art galleries and museums, and also in the restaurants and boutiques the city has to offer.  Visit the Makor Haim Synagogue (“Source of Life”). With help from abroad in the early 20th Century, this was the first synagogue built in Portugal for native Portuguese Jews in over 400 years. Captain Barros Bastos, also known as “Ben Rosh,” pushed the construction to assist the many Crypto-Jews returning to the open practice of Judaism. PortoBay Flores Hotel. (B)

Day 10 Wednesday Departure from Porto

Breakfast at the hotel. Private transfer to the airport. (B)

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