Rightly regarded as a true «city within a city», the madinat al-Yahud, or city of the Jews, constitutes a broad urban space which occupies almost ten per cent of walled Toledo. Divided, in turn, into different districts which correspond to the different stages of its expansion, the Jewish quarter of Toledo is an intricate maze which needs to be marked out in order to gain a real overview of what the Jews of Toledo were like and how they lived for at least eleven centuries.

circa 820
New Castle of the Jews

The fortifications of the New Castle of the Jews alongside San Martín bridge

The New Castle was a complementary defence of the new San Martín bridge, part of the exterior wall of the Jewish quarter, in the current Paseo de Recaredo which rises up to the Cambrón gate, built by the Arab governor from Toledo Muhachir ibn Al-Qatil in 820.

circa 900
Jewish cemetery

Archaeological work in Cerro de la Horca in 2009

Situated at Cerro de la Horca (Hill of the Gallows), its perimeter and slightly beyond is today occupied by a Secondary Education Institute.

Sources mention two burial places for the Jewish community outside the walls of the city: The Pradillo de San Bartolomé (around the Roman circus) and the Cerro de La Horca. The full extent and exact location of these two necropolises is not known, although we do have material record of its existence from the collection of monolithic headstones with inscriptions, spread throughout the city either in museums or forming part of the foundations of some Gothic monuments. This indicates at least two burial areas for the Jewish community which can perhaps be put down to the increase in population which occurred as from 1085 and, in particular, from the mid-12th century and during the 13th century with the Jews from Al-Andalus fleeing Almohad persecution.

Excavations were carried out in 1887 and some tombs were removed which are to be found today at the Sephardi Museum and the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid.In 1979 the contractor intentionally destroyed part of the necropolis during the construction of the Secondary Education Institute.During 2008 and 2009 new archaeological excavations were carried out in a sector of the necropolis which made clear that the burial patterns at Cerro de La Horca do not correspond to anything known up to that date in Toledo during the Middle Ages, leading us to think that this may actually be the site of one of the Jewish necropolises of Toledo.

1130 - 1284
Toledo Translators´ School

The Seminary area (on the right) where the Toledo Translators´ School was situated at the time of Alfonso X the Wise

The Toledo Translators´ School brought together the group of Christian, Jew and Moslem scholars which undertook very important scientific and cultural work in Toledo, particularly in the reign of Alfonso X the Wise (1252-1284) when it attained its greatest splendour.

Its toil allowed the works of ancient Greek culture which covered the fields of geography, astronomy, cartography, philology, philosophy, theology, medicine, arithmetics, astrology or botanics were brought out of oblivion and conveyed to medieval Europe via the Peninsula. This is why the school was the origin and base for the scientific and philosophical Renaissance of Western culture.

The School started in the 12th century, a time when it mainly specialised in philosophical and theological texts (Domingo Gundisalvo interpreted and translated the comments of Aristotle – written in Arab - into Latin which Juan Hispano, a Jewish convert, had previously translated into Spanish). As far back as the first half of the 13th century, during the reign of Fernando III, the Libro de los Doce Sabios (Book of the Twelve Wise Men ) (1237) was written, a summary of classical moral and political wisdom drafted by «oriental» hands.

Its origins can be found in the Jewish emigration en masse from Al-Ándalus to the Christian kingdoms and the cultural renaissance this took with it. Toledo was settled by poets, grammaticians, philosophers, scientists, doctors and other learned men, making the city their main destination. The Archbishop of Toledo don Raimundo de Sauvetat, who later became the Chancellor of Castile with Alfonso VII, wished to take advantage of the climate which allowed Christians, Moslems and Jews to live in harmony, provided his backing to different translation projects requested by all the courts of Christian Europe. The prestige of the School of Translators of Toledo was so great that not even the anti-Jewish stipulations of the Lateran Council in 1215 could stop it from flourishing.

1163
Old Castle of the Jews

The old castle of the Jews area from the Tagus

The castle´s purpose was to protect the neighbouring districts and the inhabitants of the Jewish quarter in the event of attack as occurred in 1355. A small number of documents mention it before the 15th century. The «castle of the Jews» features in 1163 in the deed for a loan granted to the Jew Isaac ben Abuyusef which cites as collateral half of his house in the castle of the Jews over the River Tagus. A century later there is mention of a street stretching from the Castillo Viejo gate of the Jewish quarter to the Castillo Nuevo gate. In 1492 further mention is made in a tax acceptance document regarding a house near the castle bordering certain houses and the synagogue of Santa María la Blanca and the «calle real (royal street)».

The «Castillo Viejo (Old Castle)» features on the list of assets of the aljama in Toledo in 1492: the castle adjoined the butcher´s and the slopes which went down to the Tagus; one of its towers stood alongside the butcher´s door and the «public streets». On this date all that was left of it was a plot and a tower. In 1496, seeing that this whole space was todo fecho muladares e syn provecho, the employees who inspected it by order of the monarchs thought que en fasello casas se farya barryo poblado, e quedava calle tan ancha y mas que ninguna de la dicha çibdad. In this way the plot which the castle had previously occupied was divided up into parcels and houses were built on the latter in the first quarter of the 16th century.

1180
Santa María la Blanca Synagogue

Interior. Santa María de Blanca

The Synagogue of Yosef ben Shoshan from the early 13th century was provided by Alfonso VIII, a monarch who was clearly sympathetic towards the Jews. In 1411, after the sermons by Vincent Ferrer, it became a Christian temple and since that time it was known as the church of St.Mary the White. In 1550, after introducing some remodelling work, cardinal Silíceo used the temple to create a beaterium for women who had publicly repented. In the 18th century the building was converted into a military barracks and in the mid-19th century it began to be recovered as an artistic monument.

A large door opening out onto Reyes Católicos street and a simple garden precede the entrance to the synagogue. It is erected on a courtyard surrounded by cypresses where the main door is situated with star-shaped Mudejar latticework under a pentice. In the subsoil there are vaults used for burials since the 16th century and other archaeological remains.

Once again the humble exterior appearance contrasts with the grandiosity of its interior. Five naves separated by horseshoe arches, octagonal columns with chapters adorned by pine cones and volutes, adapt to an asymmetric layout which is more reminiscent of a mosque than a synagogue. On these arcades there are some decorative borders with geometric and vegetal elements which follow a perfectly defined rhythm in the spandrels of the arches. Poly-lobed arches are used to raise the central nave, leaving the side decks lower down with their attendant coffered ceilings. The whole structure is catalogued as an example of Almohad art put to the service of the Jewish community.

In the 16th century Alonso de Covarrubias, at the behest of cardinal Silíceo, remodelled the heads, creating three chapels, the central one lined with a half orange-shaped vault on tubes whilst the sides are a quarter of a circle over Pechinas. The retable is by Nicolás Vergara, the Old Man, carried out in the second half of the XVI.

The synagogue, in the same way as the Tránsito one, has undergone numerous ups and downs during the course of its history. Not waiting for the decree of expulsion by the Catholic Monarchs, it is said that the sermons of Vincent Ferrer from the pulpit of Santiago del Arrabal led to the Christians taking the temple in 1411 and they expelled the Jews from it, turning it into a church dedicated to Santa María la Blanca. An old legend has it that the temple was built from earth brought from Jerusalem.

circa 1190 - 1391
Sofer synagogue

Sofer square at the former site of the synagogue

SoferSynagogue (Hebrew for Scribe) was probably built in the late 12th century or early 13th century. In 1391 Suleimán Jarada had a house known as the Higuera (fig tree) between the Atahona house and the Sofersynagogue. It would seem that the Sofer synagogue, the Higuera house and the Atahona house formed an architectonic unit between Ángel street and Reyes Católicos street. The Sofersynagogue probably stopped being used for this purpose in 1391 after the unrest and attacks the Jews were subject to and which brought about the departure of don Sulemán. We don´t what happened to it as it not mentioned again after 1480. According to an order by the Catholic Monarchs it could not be put up for sale nor occupied after the expulsion of the Jews. The attendant wall of the synagogue - which still existed in the 16th century opposite the second cloister of San Juan de los Reyes as can be seen in the El Greco plan - disappeared in the second half of the 19th century. It left its mark as a quadrangular square in 1858 in the Coello plan.

Excavated during 2011, the existing archaeological remains are currently visible under Sofer square, inaugurated in 2012.

1250
San Martín Bridge

San Martín Bridge from the Tagus

From the other side of the San Martín bridge, alongside the waters of the Tagus, the view of the city, from the heights on that side, provided a better understanding of the complex, difficult and at the same time fascinating history of a Jewish quarter like that of Toledo. A Jewish quarter where the keys of the houses of those who had gone into exile in 1492 had become the greatest symbol of the Sephardi nostalgia.

The Jewish quarter of Degolladero largely coincided with the current Reyes Católicos street and the San Martín bridge and river. It bore this name because this was the site of the Jewish butcher´s where the poultry and cattle were slaughtered. A statue of Isabel the Catholic (1451-1504), the Queen of Castile, was located at Reyes Católicos street, very near the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes. Under the edict of expulsion of 1492 the Catholic Monarchs sent between 170,000 and 180,000 Sephardis into exile.

circa 1270
Ueld Elazri Wall-walks

The Bajada de Santa Ana

A document from 1270 mentions the wall-walks called Ueld Elazri in a street connecting to Assuica, extending as far as the wall-walks of Olivo and, in turn, to:

la calle que era adarve [...] por su fondo comunica la dicha calle con la vía que se dirige de la puerta de nuestro castillo nuevo a la puerta del castillo viejo.

The Jews lived in and owned castles in medieval Spain. Some of these castles were big enough to contain houses within their walls such as the Jewish castle of Toledo as is borne out in a document dated 1163.

At the current Bajada de Santa Ana you can still find part of the walls which surrounded the Jewish quarter and the wall-walks which led to the New Castle of the Jews.

circa 1320 - 1361
Samuel Ha-Leví

Samuel Ha-Levi Abulafia, a public employee, a High Court Judge and Royal Treasurer with Pedro I of Castile, was a member of an influential family who acted as a fully empowered administrator for the Portuguese knight Juan Alfonso de Alburquerque before coming under the orders of King Pedro I to reorganise Castile´s finances.

A refined man with a knowledge of astrology and divination, he held different posts in the Court and played a decisive role in the establishment of Pedro I the Cruel against his bastard brothers Trastámara.

The notable influence and rapid growth of wealth meant that the treasurer obtained the King´s permission to build another synagogue despite papal prohibition.

His greatest recompense was the returning to the Jews of assets they had lost after the sacking of the Jewish quarter of 1355 by the supporters of the Trastámara and, in particular, the construction of the splendid synagogue which bore his name. However, this powerful magnate barely lived three years to enjoy his achievements as, accused of swindling the royal treasury, he didn´t survive the torture he had to endure in 1361.

1355 - 1391
Caleros synagogue

Location of Caleros synagogue, Alfonso XII street and Marrón square

Caleros synagogue is first mentioned in a document dated 1355. Having disappeared very suddenly, the synagogue site is conserved at Marrón square which has existed since the 15th century.

It is likely that just like the other synagogues of Toledo, the Caleros synagogue suffered the effects of the anti-Jewish movement of 1391. Abandoned in the late 14th century or slightly later, it was not mentioned again until 1418. In 1448 the synagogue is a house owned by the Archdeacon of Niebla who, since 1434, gradually acquired houses in this district for his assets, a quarter of which was bought by Juan de Silva, the Count of Cifuentes in 1460.

The main house of the Count of Cifuentes, called «de los sennores Reyes» in the second half of the 15th century where the monarchs would be lodged in the second half of said century and even during the following century, took up a large block in the area where Caleros lean-to is situated. On the other side of the lean-to at the corner of Caleros street with the lean-to of San Pedro Mártir was the «accessory» house, deriving from the merger of three small houses. In front of the gate of the main house of the count of Cifuentes a square was opened in the final quarter of the 15th century on the plot of the synagogue since the latter had disappeared owing to ruin or intentional destruction.

1355
Destruction of the upper suburb of the Jewish quarter

San Román street

Destroyed in 1355 during the power struggles between Pedro I and his brother with the troops of Enrique II, the district of Alacava or upper suburb of the Jewish quarter formed a separate nucleus of the Jewish quarter and delimited by the current winding Bulas street and Naranjos alley, the former wall-walk of Ciruelo.

In 1456 the wall-walks of Caños de Oro were closed by a gate whose lean-to, already in ruins, was built in the 16th century. Even today its base is visible on the wall of the first house at the entrance to the street. The Cuesta de Bisbís, called wall-walks of wool dealers, afforded a very wide, paved entrance as seems to be indicated by the street name which was applied to it. A clear narrowing can be noted there where the gate of the street was whose lean-to is mentioned in 1495.

In the 14th century it is likely that the aljama of Toledo had in the district of Alacava two units each comprising a synagogue and a Rabbinic school or midrash, one situated on the old wall-walks of the Golondrinos and the other in the Bisbís-Caños del oro block.

The district could be defended from attacks from the exterior thanks to being provided with gates or wicket gates in the area of the Christian district of San Román and wicket gate which at one time was called Pepino, further to the west. The existence of these gates posits the theory that this district was closed on its northern side by a wall. The fact that neither this wall nor the gate at the level of the church of San Román are mentioned after the 12th century perhaps can be put down to its probable destruction by the troops of Enrique II in 1355 or by the revolts of 1391. To the south, in contact with Ángel street, the transversal streets of Alacava were closed off by gates which, in turn, were protected by lean-tos.

For a better understanding of this paved complex, we need to imagine a Jewish quarter compartmentalised into different walls or wall-walks erected in accordance with the progressive expansion of the Jewish population, not totally closing off the block but setting specific limits between Jewish and Christian territories. What´s more, until 1480, in other words, virtually throughout their history, the Jews of Toledo were not in actual fact forced to reside in the interior of the Jewish quarter, maintaining businesses and homes in different parts of the city.

1355 - 1357
Tránsito synagogue

Tránsito synagogue. The prayer room

Built between 1355 and 1357 under the auspices of King Pedro I of Castile by his treasurer, the powerful Samuel Ha-Levi, the Tránsito synagogue was erected in the heart of the Jewish district of Hamanzeite. Its façade has undergone many modifications, not preparing us for the magnificence that lies within. The affected touch of the Mudejar master builders is all too evident and the block as a whole is organised from a large prayer room flanked by an upper gallery from where women attended the ceremony and complemented by rooms dedicated to the Rabbinic school (today rooms of the museum) and an exterior courtyard where there are remains of a possible Mikveh with two rainwater tanks.

In the prayer room, whose roof is one of the best examples of medieval carpentry in Toledo, worthy of special note is the splendid plasterwork on the walls with texts in Hebrew and Arab and geometric and heraldic motifs from Castile and León, accompanied by inscriptions with the Psalms of David, particularly on the east wall where three slim lobed arches open out, holding the scrolls of the holy texts or heijal, surrounded by a rich, delicate panel with beautiful polychromed plasterwork.

In the upper part behind a frame with muqarnas we find a succession of poly-lobed arches with matched columns which extend along the sides as well as a frieze where heraldic motifs can be made out.

On the ground, before the earpiece wall, part of the flooring is conserved which the synagogue had originally. The main room deck is closed by a jointed rafter framework in Mudejar style.

Upon the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 the Catholic Monarchs granted to the Order of Calatrava

la sinagoga mayor que los judíos tenían en Toledo, a cambio del Alcázar y Palacios de Galiana con su iglesia de Santa Fe, posesiones de esta orden.

In 1494 the building stopped being used as a synagogue and became part of the Priory of San Benito, with the area occupying the Rabbinic school and the women´s gallery serving as a Hospital and asylum for the Calatravan knights. The old large prayer room became a Christian temple and burial place for some Calatravan knights, referred to in the documentation as the Church of San Benito.

With the passage of time, in the 16th century it ceased to fulfil the aforementioned purposes and became solely a church, building an entry door to the sacristy and an arcosolium used for worshiping am image of the Virgin Mary. A retable also backed onto the central body of the former heijal and the main altar was placed on the original floor of the synagogue.

In the 17th century the church of San Benito began to be known as the church of Nuestra Señora del Tránsito owing to the commission that a Calatravan knight had given to the painter of the Toledo school Juan Correa de Vivar for a painting of the Transit of Our Lady (today conserved at the National Prado Museum) which was placed in the arcosolium.

In the 18th century the decadence of the might of the military orders also affected the previously rich church of Nuestra Señora del Tránsito which is referred to in the documentation merely as a hermitage. During the Napoleonic wars it was used as a military barracks, suffering continuous deterioration for almost all of the 19th century and continuing to be used as a hermitage until the Disentailment. On May 1st 1877 it was declared a National Monument. Since that time various restorations were undertaken to relieve the poor state of the building.

July1391
The old synagogue is seriously damaged during the attacks on the Jewish quarter

Site of the Old synagogue, now the Victorio Macho Museum

The Old Synagogue was in the Jewish butcher´s area, between the latter and the wall which looms over the Tagus. The synagogue was seriously damaged during the uprisings in summer 1391.

The old synagogue was replaced in the 16th century with a house which was known as «deep house».

circa 1400
House of the Jew

House of the Jew. Courtyard

At number 4 of Travesía de la Juderia is the dwelling known as the house of the Jew. Legend has it that this house belonged to the Jew Ishaq who provided money to queen Isabel the Catholic in exchange for her jewels to fund Columbus´ voyage to America.

This is a dwelling whose origins can be dated back to the 14th to 15thcenturies with Mudejar reminiscences and possible Jewish liturgical used, accompanied by adaptations and transformations in the subsequent centuries. The courtyard conserves a multitude of plasterwork with horseshoe arches and rich Mudejar latticework. In the cellar there is a liturgical Jewish bath or Mikveh which was used for spiritual purification and preparation for any important event in the life of a Jew. During its restoration hydraulic rough plastering on the ochre and a rainwater tank were discovered in adjoining rooms which help to back up the theory about its use.

Another highly relevant element for its archaeological study is a wooden piece used as lintel for access to the cave where the carving work with floral motifs can be observed based on tympanums and scrolls, accompanying an epigraphic repertoire whose transcription reads:

I give you thanks because you answered me.

Text related with verse 21 and subsequent verses of Psalm 118:

Here is the door of Yahveh, the righteous shall enter through here. I give you thanks because you answered me and you have been my salvation.

This text welcomed all the faithful and chaste into the interior of the house.

1448
The Archdeacon of Niebla takes possession of the synagogue of Caleros

In 1448 the synagogue is a house owned by the Archdeacon of Niebla who, since 1434, gradually acquired houses in this district for his assets, a quarter of which was bought by Juan de Silva, the Count of Cifuentes in 1460.

circa 1450
Fragment of Sefer Torah

Fragment of the Sefer Torah found at 3, Caños de Oro street

Some works at a house in Toledo brought to light this fragment of the Sefer Torah with the text of Exodus 14, 29 to 15, 14, concealed by a walling-up in the late 15th century or in the 16th century. This concealment can be put down to fear of the Inquisition, though it has not been ruled out that it could reflect the Jewish practice of burying the holy text once the document can no longer be used.

The parchment was discovered in 2006 by the archaeologist A. Ruiz Taboada during the course of some excavations carried out on some works at number 3 of Travesía de los Caños de Oro. It was hidden inside a niche behind one of the notched panels of a bricked up horseshoe arch of what must have been a house in the Jewish quarter. It seems that the last remodelling of this arch was carried out in the late Middle Ages which would leave us to believe that it may have been at this time when it was deposited there. Archaeological evidence would thus seem to indicate that the concealment occurred between the 15th and 16th centuries.

The concealment of this type of documents, a relatively frequent occurrence, usually involves converts and it is attributed to their alleged desire to conceal the document owing to fear of the Inquisition. However, what is for sure is that it is unknown who the owners were and exactly why this fragment was buried in the wall. It is possible that in view of the Jewish tradition to put documents in genizot (though the place where it was found was not exactly a genizah), the aforementioned fragment was walled in so it wouldn´t be destroyed, thereby complying with the «burial» of the biblical text. The fragment can currently be found in the collection of the Santa CruzMuseum in Toledo.

circa 1475
The Caleros synagogue has disappeared

In front of the gate of the main house of the count of Cifuentes a square was opened in the final quarter of the 15th century on the plot of the synagogue since the latter had disappeared owing to ruin or intentional destruction.

1477
San Juan de los Reyes

San Juan de los Reyes from San Martín Bridge

The monastery of San Juan de los Reyes began to be built in 1477 by order of Queen Isabel the Catholic to commemorate her victory at the battle of Toro in 1476. Its monumental presence right in the heart of the Jewish quarter in the traditional environment en where the Jewish market of the Assuica district was situated is highly symbolic. The Catholic Monarchs were initially the only source of refuge for the Jewish communities before the persecutions which occurred in the late 15th century yet it was they who signed the Decree of expulsion of 1492, thereby putting a permanent end to a long period of cohabitation between Jews, Moslems and Christians.

The convent´s austerity contrasts with the grandiosity of the church, adorned by spacious large windows, arches and Gothic pinnacles, on whose walls the chains of the Christian convicts which had hung there since 1494 when the Catholic Monarchs recovered them after the conquest of Granada.

The church was built to house the dynastic pantheon of Queen Isabel the Catholic dedicated to St.John the Evangelist of she was a devotee. Finally, the monarchs changed their mind after the conquest of Granada and they are buried in the Royal Chapel of the cathedral of this city.

Another key space is the square, two-storeyed cloister, one of the masterpieces of late Gothic within Hispano-Flemish aesthetics which combines Gothic and Mudejar elements. The upper cloister has a wooden coffered ceiling with the typical Mudejar latticework.

The convent was practically destroyed in the war of Independence and was only partly rebuilt, with the second cloister disappearing according to historicist criteria of the 19th century, leaving no distinction between the old and the restored one, the best example of which is the gargoyles of the cloister.

1494
The Tránsito synagogue is converted into a hospital

In 1494 the building stopped being used as a synagogue and became part of the Priory of San Benito, with the area occupying the Rabbinic school and the women´s gallery serving as a Hospital and asylum for the Calatravan knights. The old large prayer room became a Christian temple and burial place for some Calatravan knights, referred to in the documentation as the Church of San Benito.

1496
The site of the Old Jewish Castle is urbanised

In 1496, seeing that this whole space was todo fecho muladares e syn provecho, the employees who inspected it by order of the monarchs thought que en fasello casas se farya barryo poblado, e quedava calle tan ancha y mas que ninguna de la dicha çibdad. In this way the plot which the castle had previously occupied was divided up into parcels and houses were built on the latter in the first quarter of the 16th century.

1550
Santa María la Blanca is converted into a home for pious women

In 1550, after introducing some remodelling work, cardinal Silíceo used the temple to create a beaterium for women who had publicly repented.

1605
The Alcaná in El Quijote

The Alcaná of Toledo is mentioned by Miguel de Cervantes in a key passage of El Quijote in chapter IX of the first part where the author whisks us away to this old area of Toledo:

Estando yo un día en el Alcaná de Toledo, llegó un muchacho a vender unos cartapacios y papeles viejos a un sedero; y como soy aficionado a leer, aunque sean los papeles rotos de las calles, llevado de esta mi natural inclinación tomé un cartapacio de los que el muchacho vendía; vile con caracteres que conocí ser arábigos, y puesto que, aunque los conocía, no los sabía leer, anduve mirando si parecía por allí algún morisco aljamiado que los leyese; y no fue muy dificultoso hallar intérprete semejante, pues aunque le buscara de otra mejor y más antigua lengua le hallara. [...] luego se me representó que aquellos cartapacios contenían la historia de Don Quijote. con esta imaginación le di priesa que leyese el principio; y haciéndolo así, volviendo de improviso el arábigo en castellano, dijo que decía: Historia de Don Quijote de la Mancha, escrita por Cide Hamete Benengeli, historian arábigo.

1887
The Cerro de la Horca Jewish cemetery is excavated

Excavations were carried out in 1887 and some tombs were removed which are to be found today at the Sephardi Museum and the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid.

1909
The El Greco Museum is opened in the house of Samuel Ha-Leví

Samuel Leví street

Between the house of Samuel Ha-Levi and the Tránsito synagogue there lies Samuel Levístreet where part of the houses of the owner of this street was transformed in 1909 into the Museum of Doménico Theotocópuli, El Greco. Alongside the former gate which closed off the street, a tile recalls the painful legend of Samuel Ha-Levi which forms part of the mythology of Toledo.

1971
The Sephardi Museum is opened

Sephardi Museum. Entrance

The Sephardi Museum in the city of Toledo occupies the site of the Knights of Calatrava Convent, annexed to the Tránsito Synagogue. It is the NationalMuseum of Hispano-Jewish and Sephardi Art and it accommodates a large amount of traces of the Jewish culture.

The Sephardi Museum is made up of five rooms which display disappeared, religious and local customs and manners aspects of the Jewish past in Spain as well as of the Sephardis.

The rooms adjoining the synagogue and the restored courtyard today house displays of the uninterrupted Jewish presence in Spain since time immemorial as well as elements of the Sephardi culture, in other words, of the Spanish Jews spread around the world after their expulsion in 1492.

The northern courtyard displays, by way of a necropolis, some of the tomb headstones with Hebrew inscriptions conserved at the museum. They were previously on show inside the building, but in the latest remodelling they were displayed outside, thereby going to make up a Jardín de la Memoria (Garden of Memory) which is also converted into a rest area.

The material deployed to make the headstones varies in line with the place of origin. The marble ones, less common, are prevalent in Castile and León; the limestone and sandstone ones, easier to work on, are the most frequent and are particularly common in all the necropolises of Girona and Barcelona. In Toledo the predominant material is granite, though there is no lack of epitaphs made of the previous materials; the museum has a headstone made of baked clay.

At the eastern courtyard an array of bronze sculptures are on display by contemporary artists (Martina Lasry and David Aronson) as well as a slate headstone of a Calatravan knight from the 16th century. The courtyard serves as a link between the lower rooms of the museum and the Women´s Gallery. Excavations carried out under the ground have brought to light various rooms identified as water tanks or rainwater tanks.

The old Women´s gallery is dedicated to the life and festive cycles and other expressions of Sephardi culture.

1979
Part of the Cerro de la Horca Jewish cemetery is destroyed

In 1979 the contractor intentionally destroyed part of the necropolis during the construction of the Secondary Education Institute.

2006
The Golondrinas synagogue is discovered

Entrance to the house where the ancient Golondrinas (Swallows) synagogue was located

The archaeological excavations of 2006 at the house at number 29 of Bulas street confirm the existence of an old synagogue alongside the house which formed a corner with Bulas street and the entrance to the former Golondrinos alley. Jean Passini refers to it as the synagogue de los Golondrinos (of the swallows).

In the second half of the 15th century a synagogue is mentioned, using it as a point of reference in the description of two houses in the parish of San Román. The first, which belonged to don Abraham batidor, was erected on the wall-walks of Sancho Padilla (the current Esquivias alley). It adjoined the house of the silk dealer Diego López and at the rear, a Jewish synagogue. The second house belonged in 1488 to a converted Jew, Lope de Acre. It is described at that time on the wall-walks of los Golondrinos, having a dividing wall with a yard which used to be a synagogue of the Jews. The Libro de Capellanias (Book of Chaplaincies) dated 1577 states that the house stood at the corner of Bulas street-Golondrinos alley. The ownership deeds of the monastery also state that it had a cellar under it with its door opening out onto Bulas street, a door which still existed until 2009.

Along with the remains of the synagogue, the remains have been found of a ritual bath or Mikveh, which we can compare with that Besalú, a closed space, endowed with solid walls, stone arches and water piping which consisted of a small room with a barrel vault, accessible from the street via an independent gate. An underground system, certified by the existence in the vicinity of a well called Aizco, supplied the running water required. An interior side corridor allowed passage from the vaulted room to the synagogue.

2006
A fragment of Sefer Torá is discovered in the Alacava district of Toledo

The parchment was discovered in 2006 by the archaeologist A. Ruiz Taboada during the course of some excavations carried out on some works at number 3 of Travesía de los Caños de Oro. It was hidden inside a niche behind one of the notched panels of a bricked up horseshoe arch of what must have been a house in the Jewish quarter. It seems that the last remodelling of this arch was carried out in the late Middle Ages which would leave us to believe that it may have been at this time when it was deposited there. Archaeological evidence would thus seem to indicate that the concealment occurred between the 15th and 16th centuries.

2008 - 2009
The Cerro de la Horca necropolis is newly excavated

During 2008 and 2009 new archaeological excavations were carried out in a sector of the necropolis which made clear that the burial patterns at Cerro de La Horca do not correspond to anything known up to that date in Toledo during the Middle Ages, leading us to think that this may actually be the site of one of the Jewish necropolises of Toledo.

2011
The remnants of the Sofer synagogue are excavated

Excavated during 2011, the existing archaeological remains are currently visible under Sofer square, inaugurated in 2012.

Glossary