The beauty and typicality of the Old Jewish Quarter of Cáceres, with its narrow streets, its whitewashed, luminous houses and flowers in their windows or on the balconies is only comparable with the monumental nobility of this ancient city: all serving as a symbol of the protection always sought by the protective aljamas of kings or lords. The trip from the New Jewish Quarter to the other side of Plaza Mayor also gives you a chance to visit a large part of this city which is Heritage of Humanity, following the medieval traces of its Hebrew residents.

circa 1100
An ancient Mikveh?

General view of a possible mikveh. The Jewish baths are always situated under the surface level. It is accessed via steps which lead right to the water

Number 4 Cuesta del Marqués houses the Yusuf al Burch Museum, the translation into Arab of the name of its founder, José de la Torre, who excavated here the rainwater tank and baths on which the house was based, decorated with an abundant collections of artistic objects evoking the Arab past of the city and where you can also visit, in addition to the rainwater tank and the baths, the winery, harem, kitchen, sleeping quarters, the garden and different rooms.

The baths, the remains of a private installation, have been said to have a connection with the mikveh the Jewish ritual , perhaps shared with the Moslems, which are located in a 12th century construction. This is a natural source of water from a spring, rainwater or a well whose left wall bears a piping through which the water from the house well continuously circulated. The well water was kept warm by boilers located under the house's courtyard.

Notwithstanding, as has already been stated, it has not yet been possible to clarify whether it is an Islamic or Jewish construction, in other words, whether it actually is a Mikveh.

1229 - 1478
San Antonio de la Quebrada District

La calleja del Moral (Moral alley)

The Old Jewish Quarters of Cáceres is one of the most beautiful areas in the city within its walls. The urbanistic interventions have been small in scale over the centuries and the current San Antonio de la Quebrada district today conserves a large part of the structure and typicality it must have had when settled by Jews. Its haphazard, steep streets; the simple whiteness of its whitewashed houses; its seasonal flowers on balconies and little gardens and the daily life it houses from a strange contrast with the severe, monumental structures which crown it, the ochre colour of stones bathed in sunlight. Its adaptation to the orography, as it is located in the hilliest area of the walled city, is one of the most string characteristics of the Cáceres Jewish Quarters where the streets and houses form a very varied set packed with nooks and crannies, steps and fanciful spaces which its current residents conserve, adorning them with the flowers of the season and rife with popular flavour.

The streets of the Cáceres Old Jewish Quarter have marked slopes and hills which sometimes have steps as they form that part of Cáceres within the walls which is most difficult to urbanise and this has led to a place containing poor constructions, and its intricate spaces also distance it from the circulation of the major nuclei of the city.

The houses back onto the wall and use it as one of their own and some towers and other spaces as rudimentary gardens or improvised fruit and vegetable patches, combing nature and history with what is popular, something which already occurred back in the 18th century when it was allowed to use the wall for other purposes in view of the fact that it could no longer be used for defensive purposes. They are small houses with one storey or a ground floor and another upper floor, small, haphazard openings and with the majority of the doors lintelled.

1229 - 1470
Former Synagogue (San Antonio Hermitage)

The San Antonio de la Quebrada hermitage where the synagogue was located

The current San Antonio hermitage occupies the plot where the Synagogue of the Old Jewish Quarters had previously stood until 1470 when the aljama, complying with the segregation order, had to grant the temple to Alfonso Golfín, the lord of Torre Arias. The latter decided to knock it down to build a hermitage on its plot under the advocacy of St. Anthony of Padua who would later lend his name to what was the Old Jewish Quarters. Subsequent to these events, a son of Pedro de Carvajal who owned properties annexed to the synagogue after the expulsion, appeared in 1504 as a donator to St. Anthony's Church:

De un solar que yo tengo e me pertenece a la judería vieja que es en la collacion de señor san Mattheos.

The hermitage lent its name to the District and its main street.

The hermitage façade belongs to Barrio de San Antonio street and its rear is supported on the wall. Before its door there is an open space or square which is integrated by a portico which juts out of the hermitage. The portico has three arches, one front one and two side ones which are half-pointed but irregular, it has a sloping roof and a barrel vault with two very rough and whitewashed windows. The door is lintelled and on it there is a tile bearing the image of St. Anthony of Padua. On the pilasters there are whitewashed granite blocks and the rest is simple, whitewashed masonry.

The hermitage was transformed in 1661 and in 1975 it was restored. Between 1993 and 1994 the Municipal Workshop School remodelled its exterior and embellishment and conservation work was carried out throughout the Old Jewish Quarters: electricity and phone cables were concealed; TV cables and air-conditioning appliances were removed; waste paper baskets were installed and a solution was found for refuse collection; cracks, cornices and balconies etc. were repaired and lintels, jambs and threshold were protected.

circa 1250
Olivar de la Juderia

Olivar de la Juderia (Jewish Quarter Olive Grove)

Through the Mérida Gate, coming out of the Monumental City and leading to Santa Clara Square which takes the name of the 18th century Clarisas Convent, a narrow alley leads to the Mochada Tower, a watchtower from the 13th century, filled with mud, which strengthened the city's defences in times which were still unstable and which today has been consolidated and recovered as part of the medieval city. Going round it via the gardens right alongside, you reach hat is known as the Olivar de la Judería (Jewish Quarter Olive Grove), a recondite garden which belonged to one of the Jewish houses situated at this end of the city.

circa 1450
Main Square

Main Square, with the Arch of the Star and the tower of Bujaco in the foreground

Plaza Mayor, the anteroom of the amazing Monumental City which Cáceres holds within its walls, symbolises the frontier between the Old Jewish Quarter and the New Jewish Quarter, between the traditional Jewish site within the walls in the steepest part of the Romana and medieval city and the new winds of the 15th century in an expansion of the city which the Jews would end up being excluded from.

A meeting point, a place of transit between the hustle and bustle of the new city and the withdrawal of the previous one, Plaza Mayor opens out onto the walled site through the staircases which rise to the Arco de la Estrella (Star Arch), framed by the 18th century hermitage of la Paz on the left and by the Torre de los Púlpitos (Pulpits Tower) from the 15th century on the right.

The Jews of Caceres request tax equality

At Pereros square, a plaque recalls that in 1477 the Jews sought out Queen Isabel to ask for greater fairness in the distribution of municipal taxes, and their request was made at a time when there were 130 Jewish families in a total population of 8,000 inhabitants.

1478 - 1492
New Jewish Quarters

Arch at entrance to Plaza Mayor (Main Square) in Paneras street

The New Jewish Quarters emerged after the decree of 1478 in which the Jews of Cáceres were ordered to gather in a single district outside the walled city. The area selected for this New Jewish Quarters was to be the square delimited by the current General Ezponda street, Concepción square, Paneras street and Plaza Mayor with Cruz street serving as the main thoroughfare thereof. Something still remains in Cruz street, long called Jewish Quarters street, of the atmosphere of that new Jewish district which existed in this form for only fourteen years, though some its settlers remained connected with the area for longer now as New Christians.

1478 - 1492
Former New Jewish Quarters Synagogue (Palace de la Isla)

Palace de la Isla Façade

The Palacio de la Isla (Palace of the Island) was built in the 16th century and it currently takes up the space where the New Jewish Quarters' synagogue was located which some have said was located in one of the palace state rooms. The Stars of David in the courtyard commemorate the Jewish presence in these surroundings and the basin with Hebrew inscriptions are some of the elements which serve as a continuous reminder of this final stage of the Hebrew Cáceres collective on the eve of their expulsion.

The palace is a true gem of the Renaissance and its shields and inscriptions evoke the founding family the Blázquez-Mogollón who inscribed on the stone the motto moderata durant nobilitat animus non acta parentumor the classic uanitas uanitatum et omnia uanitasin defence of their lineage against a local branch of the family which refused to acknowledge this. However, the name of the palace can be put down to the its 18th century owners the Marquis of the Island. After serving until 1983 as the head offices of the Provincial Archive and State Library, after recent remodelling it is now used as the Municipal Historic Archive and a multipurpose cultural centre.

circa 1520
The Palacio de la Isla rises up against the Caceres synagogue

The Palacio de la Isla (Palace of the Island) was built in the 16th century and it currently takes up the space where the New Jewish Quarters' synagogue was located which some have said was located in one of the palace state rooms. The Stars of David in the courtyard commemorate the Jewish presence in these surroundings and the basin with Hebrew inscriptions are some of the elements which serve as a continuous reminder of this final stage of the Hebrew Cáceres collective on the eve of their expulsion.

Discovery of the yad of Plasencia

The yad, literally the hand, is a ritual pointer used to follow the reading of the text of the Torah. This pointer, currently located at Cáceres Museum, was found in the excavations of Parador de Plasencia in 1996.