This tour through Sephardic Portugal begins in Lisbon and ends in Porto. Experience this beautiful diverse country with its spectacular Atlantic coastline, rolling wheat fields, silver olive trees, vineyards as far as the eye can see, stony outcrops crowned by ancient castles, and white-washed villages, that once sheltered Jewish communities. The 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 unique 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 Anusim (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. Combine all this with an entire population that is discovering its Jewish roots, and renewing Jewish life in this beautiful land. Then add warm hospitality, fine wine and great food – and you'll discover a Portugal you never knew existed.
6 day tour – 5 nights - from Lisbon to Porto
Friday June 15th to Wednesday 20th June 2012
Friday, 15th June on EasyJet Flight No 2365 Luton to Lisbon leaving 7.55am landing Lisbon at 10.40am [£56 as at 9/11/11] returning Wednesday 20th June on TAP Air Portugal Porto to Gatwick Flight No TP0332 leaving 19.30pm Lands Gatwick at 21.40pm [£55 as at 9/11/11]
Arrival at Lisbon around 11:00 Meet your English Speaking guide and start a panoramic tour of Lisbon to discover the variety of heritage and styles which makes this one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. We visit the Alfama Quarter, nestled between the grand Castle and the river Tagus, one of the city’s oldest areas and where a large Jewish Community lived in the hereabouts of Rua da Judiaria. We visit Rossio square, the site of the court of the Inquisition, where Jews and well as others were brought to court. Later drive Belem area where Jerónimos Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wel also visit Torre de Belem, from where the navigators set out on their voyages of discovery. In the afternoon we follow the Atlantic coast up to Cascais, with its surprising beaches and coves, climbing up to Sintra through a landscape of rare beauty. This land overlooking the sea, covered in luxuriant vegetation, has long seduced poets from home and abroad. Sintra, the “Glorious Eden” of Lord Byron and ancient summer refuge of the royal court, is today the natural setting for stunning monuments, singular estates, houses and landscaped gardens. We visit the Jewish quarter and the Royal Palace.
Return to Lisbon and check in at you city centre 4* Hotel Lisboa Plaza and have free time to relax and refresh. We walk to the Lisbon’s Synagogue and Kabalat Shabbat. Synagogue Shaare Tikva was built in the early 20th century as Jews of Portuguese descent returned to Portugal from Gibraltar and North Africa. After the service a kosher Shabbat dinner will be served for the group in the Synagogue or in the hotel restaurant. Overnight: Lisbon
Saturday, June 16th
After breakfast at your hotel, we walk to the Shaaré Tikvá Synagogue for the services for those interested, otherwise the morning is free to spend as you please. Afternoon, at 3pm, we meet our guide in the hotel and start a Lisbon walking tour to Chiado district, the cultural and commercial centre of the capital. From São Pedro de Alcântara - city’s most famous miradouro or vantage point – continue to the Chiado district, where we go to visit atmospheric cafés and enticing book, fashion and design stores, all set against the backdrop of a striking contemporary restoration project by leading Portuguese architect A. Siza Vieira. Then we explore Camões square, São Carlos and Largo do Carmo charming places full of life and history. Stop in a café- terrace to have a drink and relax. Before walking back from a special vantage point enjoy a bird-view over the Pombaline reconstruction of Lisbon (as a result of the destruction of the greater part of the city, by the 1755 earthquake). This unique part of the city is laid out in a special, ordered design according to the urban ideals of the Enlightenment being one of the first, contemporary, large-scale, town planning schemes. Around 7pm end of the walking tour and remainder of the day at your leisure.
Sunday, June 17th
This morning after your breakfast we leave Lisbon to Évora. Évora, is an ancient city of narrow streets, unforgettable monuments and white, sun washed houses, is the finest example of a city of the golden age of Portugal: a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986. The capital city of the Alentejo prospered in the late middle ages. It was here that one of the largest Jewish communities existed up to the 15th century and several houses still bear traces of the old Mezuzot. In the historic quarter we shall find the building that once housed the synagogue and the surrounding Judiaria. A plaque commemorates the Jewish community, and Diogo Pires. the Jewish-born 16th century humanist. The former Place of the Inquisition stands near the city museum, with the Coat of Arms of the Inquisition clearly visible overthe main door. Take a walking tour in Évora to discover its secret treasures and ancient history. Later departure to Marvão: a geranium-filled, walled village perched on a high rocky peak from where one can almost touch the sky. This impressive fortress town served as an entry point to the thousands of Jews who fled Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries. A few houses still retain carved crosses on the door posts which were a necessity at a time when Jews were forced to identify as Christians. Drive to Castelo de Vide, a scenic and charming town, and check in in your hotel Sol e Serra, 3* with a nice swimming pool
Overnight: Castelo de Vide
Monday, June 18th
After breakfast in the hotel we discover Castelo de Vide. By the 14th century a large Jewish community existed here. The Judiaria ran from the castle gate, down to the village fountain (Fonte da Vila) and on to the Rua Nova. An amazing medieval synagogue stands at the corner of the Rua da Judiaria and Rua da Fonte. Restored to its original appearance, the museum today features the original 14th-century stone ark for the Torah and the ritual baths. At the museum, we will meet members of the community who will be pleased to tell the history of this interesting archaeological excavation. Drive to Belmonte where your guide will lead you on an interesting walking tour through the village. This remote and beautiful village of Portugal is rich in the history and traditions of crypto Jews. Belmonte, famous for being the Birth place of Pedro Álvares Cabral, the first Portuguese Captain to sight Brazil in 1500. In the 20th century a significant community of crypto Jews, sometimes called Marranos, emerged. Although they had practiced many of the rituals of Judaism for centuries, they were unaware of their true heritage. Jewish communities around the world came to their aid to help them rediscover their roots, and in 1993 the community welcomed its first Rabbi in more than four centuries. Shortly after that, Temple Bet Eliahou was built. Amazingly, many of the Jewish families still live in the town’s charming Judiaria, called the Bairro de Marrocos. Your visit will start at the Jewish Museum and will also include the Judiaria, Bet Elliahou Synagogue and the castle. A dinner with the Jewish Community will be organized. Check in at your historic and charming 4* hotel in Belmonte
Tuesday, June 19th
Today we drive to Tomar, one of the oldest and most charming towns in Portugal, founded by the Order of Knights Templar. Visit the 15th Century Synagogue, now the Museum Luso-Hebraico Abraão Zacuto located on what was once Rua da Judiaria. Here is a significant reminder of one of the greatest Sephardic Jewish communities, now classified as a national monument. With Gothic vaults upheld by four central columns, this structure houses Jewish gravestones, the cornerstones of the 13th Century Synagogue of Belmonte and the 14th Century Lisbon Synagogue, and other remains of Tomar’s medieval Jewish community. After lunch we will continue on to Porto. Porto, overlooking the Douro River is one of the most ancient European cities. The city centre or Baixa was classified as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1996. After checking in at our hotel in the city centre we shall have a relaxing walking in the old city.
Wednesday, June 20th
Today we will visit old Porto and its medieval quarters. We also visit the Mekor Haim Synagogue and the small Jewish Museum which is still under construction. Later, from the vantage point of the Largo da Cathedral, dazzling in its mixture of romantic and baroque elements, before descending to the Ribeira area where we find the characteristic quays beautifully restored in their ancient stone. Porto was well known among the Jewish traders during the Middle Ages. Today there are only the remnants of a synagogue and a cemetery. In the city there are remains of what was once a typical Jewish Quarter in the Middle Ages: steps, narrow streets and balconied houses, with street names such as “Rua Monte Judeus”, “Escadinhas do Monte dos Judeus”, “Pátio das Escadinhas do Monte dos Judeus” and “Escadas da Esnoga”, which is believed to mean “stairway to the Synagogue”. Visit also Mekon Haim Porto Sinagogue and hope to meet members of the Community. Before leaving we will have a Kosher Port taste in one of the most prestigious Port wine lodge of the city: a truly sensory experience!
Price per person in a minimum 15 people group – Trip will not proceed unless 15 registered
In a double room = £695 per person
Single room supplement = £185
A refundable £75 deposit is required [repayable only if trip is cancelled] per person and as soon as 15 booked we will advise you to book flights
The tour includes:
-5 nights in Hotels: 2 at Lisboa Plaza 4*; 1 at Castelo de Vide, Hotel Sol e Serra 3*; 1 at Belmonte Pousada 4* and 1 at Grand Hotel do Porto, 3*;
- Buffet breakfast in the hotel;
- Friday night kosher meal
- Private transportation as per itinerary;
- English Speaking official guide specialist in Jewish Heritage;
- Tickets entrance to the follow monuments: Sintra Royal Palace; Belmonte Jewish Musuem; Tomar museum; Castelo de Vide museum; Belmonte Synagogue; Porto Synagogue.
- Kosher Port wine taste
The tour does not include:
- Air travel tickets
- Meals except Friday night kosher meal - We plan eating in excellent fish restaurants which the country is famous for, plus with the Jewish community in Belmonte
- Items of personal expenditure (e.g. telephone calls, laundry, etc)
- Gratuities to guides and drivers
- Personal travel insurance
- All items not mentioned as included
Tour conducted by Episode-Travel with Art is an EU trademark Turismo de Portugal -Alvará nº 1462