Set in a privileged environment on the banks of the River Ambroz amongst orchards, fig groves and chestnut trees, the Hervás Jewish quarter has for some time now been one of the distinguishing features of this place which has been able to preserve it best medieval mark almost intact. The typicality of its houses is definitely the main attraction of this Estremadura Jewish quarter which was declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1969 and whose urban setting maintains all the taste and aroma of that time of cohabitation between different cultures and religions.

The good conservation of the Jewish Hervás village is the result of the very humility of its settlers over the centuries, but also the firm will of the latter not to lose the identity inherited from their forefathers. What's more, since 1989, the restoration work on the workshops and trade houses has served as a great aid to their conservation and there has also been the start-up of the Full Rehabilitation Area (ARI) in 1997, pioneering in Extremadura.

The Jewish presence in Hervás did not last more than a century in all and can only be historically vouched for as from 1454. The Jews settled in Hervás probably feeling from the antisemitic climate prevalent in Castile in the 14th century and whose dramatic consequences led to the slaughters of 1391. In the 15th century Enrique III intervened to try and calm things down but on June 6th 1431 disturbances broke out again in the cities of Seville, Córdoba, Úbeda, Huete, Escalona and the revolts spread to the Castilian plateau. Consequently, many Jews agreed to conversion to Christianity as the only way of saving their lives and properties, others emigrated to Portugal and others still stayed in Valle de Ambroz on the Spanish-Portuguese border which began to be settled by the fleeing Sephardis who were located on the Silver Route and the settlements on both sides of the border.

In 1186 Alfonso VIII reconquers Béjar and Plasencia from the Almohades aided by the military order of the Temple. In return for the services rendered, it is highly likely that the Templars receive the castle of Segura de Toro and a stretch of land very near the place and the Roman road which they called Santihervás. Less than a kilometre away from the Templar hermitage of Santihervás, a small castle was erected in an area called Hervás inside which the parish church of St. Mary's was built. During the course of the 13th and 14th centuries the first urban space was developed around the fortress, forming a cluster of houses. Successive settlers stayed and repopulated the paths which joined said dwellings, including the streets of Collado, Corredera (today, Relator González) and the canton and bridge of Centeneda, the limit of the urban centre and of Centeneda mountain. This territory was settled by people from Bejar, Galicia (who Queen Violante donated the Mount of Castañar in 1277) and the residents of El Barco de Ávila.

The village of Hervás did not remain for long in the power of the Templar monks. In 1227 the village was already owned by the house of Almaraz. Sometime later the settlement was once again answerable to the crown as in 1246 Fernando III donated to Violante de Aragón, the daughter of Jaime I the Conqueror, the feudal estate of Béjar and Hervás as a wedding present for her marriage to Alfonso X the Wise. It may have been Queen Violante who added Hervás to the Bejar estate, as in 1254 the village was under the governance of the Lord of Béjar, confirmed by the sovereign Sancho IV in the delimitation of the community of town and land of 1291.

The land of Béjar was subject to the whims of the monarchy and it was constantly transferred from kings to princes until on June 8th 1396 Diego López de Estúñiga received from Enrique III the community of town and land of Béjar with its royal privileges in exchange for the town of Frías, investing in lord of Béjar until the early 19th century. On June 29th 1397 the Lord of Béjar founded the Council of Zúñiga. The Zúñiga owned vast numbers of cattle and needed pastures to feed them. This cattle and farming activity was the sole source of work in the economy of Hervás until the arrival of the Jews in the 15th century.

A Jewish community was set up in Hervás in the 15th century and the first details come to light in 1454. Prior to this date, Juan Muñoz García informs us that in 1391 the Jew from Bejar Rabichuda or Rabbi Judá took part in Hervás as a witness in legal proceedings. However, this evidence should be taken with a pinch of salt. The text mentions «Gomez Fernandez Labichuda, the son-in-law of Marina Gil», but nothing confirms or denies whether he was a Jew. In actual fact, there are no reliable references to the life led by the Jews until the year of their expulsion. In this year we know that in 1492 around 45 families lived in Hervás and Rabbi Samuel owned the synagogue which tradition states was at Rabilero street number 19.

The Jews of Hervás performed the trades of weaver, doctor, landlord and merchant. They owned several public buildings as well as vineyards spread around the best areas: Collado, Quiñones (behind Corredera square), Mediano, as well as flax fields and chestnut groves. We know nothing about the location of their butcher's, cemetery, baker's, public baths or other community buildings. Neither do we have any evidence of the existence of a Jewish quarter.

During the second half of the 15th century the house of Zúñiga began to flourish. The accounting books of the Zúñiga family reveal the taxation profile of the Jews settled in their territories in 1454. Of the 15 settlements going to make up the demarcation of Béjar in 1454, Hervás was the most populated with the exception of the town of Béjar. In this year the house of Zúñiga collected by way of county thirds 12,173 maravedis in Béjar and 5,185 in Hervás. Whilst as regards the sales taxes, Hervás earned 42,000 maravedis and the 14 settlements of Bejar totalled 71,250. Hence, the village of Hervás taxed the Lord of Béjar more than half of the sales tax from villages. Self-evidently, the increase experienced in levies in Hervás could undoubtedly be put down to the settlement of a Jewish community there.

In other words, there were already Jews in Hervás in 1454. The contributory factors to Jewish settlement in the Bejar district included, first and foremost, the resettlement policy implemented by the house of Zúñiga to mitigate the semi-desertification of their land, providing the settler with incentives in the form of tax exemptions and the donation of land to construct homes and set them aside for cultivation. However, a particularly important reasons was the absence of interreligious conflicts in the area.

The expulsion edict by the Catholic Monarchs guaranteed the Jews a series of legal conditions intended to facilitate the exit from their kingdom. The crown allowed them to liquidate all their assets and transfer their properties to third parties However, the Duke of Béjar, Álvaro II (1488-1531), forade the Jews in his territory from selling assets, andreal estate and threatened vassals with seizing any assets acquired from expatriates.

The few Jews who did manage to negotiate their properties had set a price which was considerably lower than its actual than their real market value. Other Jews got rid of their houses in exchange for a modest surety or by way of barter which was completely to their detriment. This set of aspects allows us to underline that the commercial operations carried out by the expatriates of Hervás were not in their interest. For example:

We know that at least 13 of the 45 Jews who lived in Hervás in 1492 set off into exile and their names correspond to that of the owners of the abandoned vineyards. Some of the exiled Jews went back to Hervás in early February 1494, benefitting from the law of return of November 10th 1492. From Barcelona the monarchs had issued a letter of safe passage for any Jews from Castile settled in Portugal who wished to return to the country and who had converted to Christianity. The Crown vouchsafed the Jewish return and the possibility of recovering all the assets sold subject to payment to their current owners of the amount set for the commercial transaction plus the cost of any remodelling that the owner had carried out thereat.

We do not have any references to an approximate figure of Jews who returned to Hervás. Neither were they well received in the Duchy of Bejar. Owing to circumstances not mentioned in the documentation, the Crown had decreed against them:

Que les prendades los cuerpos e secretades los bienes ante notario [...] e les traygades presos.

This poses the question why the Catholic Monarchs had acted in this way against the change if the legislation in force was favourable to the Jewish return.

Along with Rabbi Samuel other Jews from Hervás were repatriated. We have a record of a Ferrando del Cura, converted to Christianity in 1492, but we don't know his Jewish name. He was related to Nehoray Salvadiel who had gone into exile, though we are unaware whether he came back two years later. In the same way, the convert Juan Blasco died at the stake in the auto de fe of 1506 incriminated in the religious slander of the consecrated host. Violante, the wife of Toribio López, had been accused of the offence of Judaism in 1514 but she managed to escape the clutches of the Holy Office and took refuge, probably in Portugal.

The converts lived in Corredera square and Cruz Street and had to suffer the ill will of the old Christians who saw them as enemies of the Christian faith. Their harassment was reflected in the blood libel of the consecrated host (1506) and the persecution they suffered from the court of the Inquisition of Extremadura which sent Judaizers to the stake who did not wish to forswear the Law of Moses in 1514. The converted community decided to participate in the activities of the civil and religious institutions in the mid-16th century. In view of the rejection by the Christians, the Duke of Béjar laid down the Statutes of Cleanliness of the Blood at the Town Hall in 1578. This rejection of the Jew has remained until today, crystallised in the form of legends.

Abajo Street

First stretch of Abajo street right after leaving the Square

At the same Square, an olive tree from Jerusalem forms a spot full of charm which prepares the traveller for symbolically entering the Jewish quarter via Abajo street, its main thoroughfare. A the point of departure there is a descriptive sign explaining the main features of the Jewish quarter of Hervás and a plan of the town. Since that time the Jewish quarter has appeared as a cramped popular village spreaded over the banks of the river, winding through a layout of purely medieval essences. No sooner than staring the route along Abajo Street, the Rincón de Don Benitoon the left already brings the commercial and crafts aroma which characterised a large part of the activity of the Jews of Extremadura and which in Hervás is still conserved over time.

As well as agriculture, particularly the vineyards, in the 18th century Hervás, with the factory of Juan López, had an important textile industry which would last until the 14th century, then making way for the furniture industry and the recovery of crafts, today one of its main attractions. At number 11 of Abajo street, the hallway of the ARI office permanently displays a series of photos which show part of the secret behind the recovery and the updating of the Jewish quarter of Hervás in the 1990's. Always endowed with the leit-motif of water, the caño del Tío Julián is located at the fork between Abajo street, which continues to the left, and the former Hospital street, today Amistad Judeo Cristiana (Jewish-Christian friendship) street as stated on the plaque in Spanish and in Hebrew.

The medieval atmosphere picks up on the second stretch of Abajo street where the splendid architectonic set of popular houses starts to appear. The first alley emerging on the right overlooks a passageway where tradition has it that there is a hypothetical Jewish gate. It is worth taking a few steps inside to admire one of the many secret spots of this Jewish quarter which brings together its main branches via narrow passages, always sheltered from strong winds in winter and the rigours of the sun in summer.

Church of Santa María de las Aguas Vivas

St. Mary's Church

The church of St. Mary of the Living Waters has Templar origins and it is situated on the remains of the watchtower of the ancient Celts and Romans. It was here that after the reconquest of the district by the Castilian king Alfonso VIII in 1186, the Templars raised a first hermitage, establishing around it a fortress to protect the first resettlers who had arrived from places like Galicia, Ávila, Béjar or El Barco de Ávila. The current church - which defines the profile of the higher part of the town - was erected in the 13th century on the site of the former fortress of which part of the tower and wall remain.

Corredera Square

Corredera Square

The central Corredera square, with it fountain and colonnades, is an excellent meeting point in the heart of Hervás to start your visit, very near the tourist information office on the paved over pedestrian street of Braulio Navas. The Subida del Consistorio (Town Hall Ascent) leads to St. Mary's church where it is possible to obtain a good perspective of the space occupied by the Jewish quarter in terms of the whole area. From the high vantage point of the church, Hervás' setting in a beautiful landscape backing onto Gredos becomes clear, alongside the Silver Route of the Romans and set below the Pinajarro peak. Its Extremadura character shines through and the landscape takes us back to the old kingdom of León.

Cuestecita Street

Cuestecita street (Little Slope street), the traditional entry to the Jewish district

The murmur of the fountain once again characterises the crossroads with the steep calle de la Cuestecilla (little slope street) which again rises to the heights by means of steps. On the left and right new rural dwellings have been placed on the former houses of the area, providing the traveller with a room packed with typicality and charm right in the heart of the Jewish district.

House of the Brotherhood

The House of the Brotherhood today on Vado street

In the House of the Brotherhood commonly assemblies were held of the Hervás aljama. In 1522 the brotherhood of Our Lady of the Assumption was created which incorporate the majority of the collective of New Christians and the House of the Brotherhood became the domicile of the converted brotherhood. This is why it is known as the «house of the brotherhood» and the alley behind it as brotherhood alley. This street, alongside Judeo-Cristiana and Vado streets, went to make up the so-called Jewish farmyard, the heart of the aljama.

In the interior of the brotherhood there was a space set aside for making Kosherwine, wine which had been purified according to the rituals laid down by the Law. It had its winery, wooden press or «squeeze», pillars, vats, a winery and a loft to be used as a granary and drying place for agricultural products.

Jewish-Christian Friendship Street

Calle de la Amistad Judeo-Cristiana (Jewish-Christian Friendship Street)

La Fuente Chiquita (The Little Fountain)

The Little Fountain alongside the bridge crossing the Ambroz

The humble Little Fountain, a spurt of water emerging from the ground very near the river and alongside the bridge which crosses the Ambroz is the stage for «la Maruxa» or «the wandering Jew».

The legend of the 'maruxa' or the 'wandering Jewess'

The legend of «the Maruxa» or «the wandering Jewess» recounts the tragic love between a Jewess and a Christian in medieval Hervás.

Julián, a nineteen year old man and the son of one of the Christians lords who lived in the upper part of town, rode every day on horseback across the lower district to get to his land in Romañazos. In the Jewish quarter the Rabbi Ismael, a haughty man, inflexible and wielding considerable influence, has a daughter who is eighteen years old: the beautiful Maruxa whose beauty and goodness have been heard about far and wide beyond the limits of the Jewish district, becoming the dram of many young Christian men.

And Julián is one of the latter. He changes his route whenever he can to bump into the girl who speeds up and goes red every time he greets her. However, despite the prohibition, after a few days the meetings become more and more frequent, always in solitary places. Julián and María fall hopelessly in love with each other.

La Plaza

The Square was the commercial centre of Hervás until the 17th century and it was also the space where the Jewish converts lived who had returned two years later after the expulsion edict of 1492

The descent from St. Mary's church via Subida del Castillo street will immerse you in the medieval layout of the walled town, but you will also see that it is a road ensuring communications between the two cities: the uptown where the better off people resided and the downtown in part of which the Jewish quarterwas located. Another fountain, an example of these «living waters» which define the wealth and sound of Hervás, marks the limit of the Jewish quarter at The Square where a fragment of the verses written by Miguel de Unamuno is recalled:

Hervás con sus castañares
recoletos en la falda
de la sierra, que hace espalda
de Castilla, tus telares,
reliquias de economía
medieval, que el siglo abroga,
y en un rincón sinagoga
en que la grey se reunía,
que hoy añora la verdura
de España, la que regara
con su lloro -de él no avara-
el Zaguán de Extremadura.

Promenade along the banks of the Ambroz

Promenade along the banks of the Ambroz

The promenade along the banks of the Ambroz, following a line of homes which overlooks a stream, again allows a careful analysis of the construction qualities of the houses of the Jewish quarter. The integration of this small urban nucleus into the natural environment of the river is total. Accompanying the sweet scent of the fig trees in summer, the presence of wood in different elements of the houses reminds us how close Hervás is to Monte Castañar Gallego, one of the most important chestnut forests in Europe. At the end of the promenade an impeccable row of wooden balconies allows us to see how the succession of generations who have settled these houses has enabled a large part of their charm to be kept intact.

The Jewish houses

The medieval Jews use native materials to build their houses: stone, chestnut wood and adobe, in other words, clay mixed with straw dried in the sun. It is a wooden framework filled with adobe and protected by Arabic tiles which follow the popular architecture characteristic of the Northern area of the province of Cáceres.

The lower part of the house was built from stone masonry or rough ashlar which sometimes uses the same parent rock as foundations.

A characteristic of contact between this odd way of building with the Castilian area is the protection of the dividing walls by means of vertical channels of tiles which was sometimes resolved by means of horizontal planking: a safe way of protecting the dwelling from the abundant rainfall in the area and bearing in mind the fragility of the materials deployed.

The main storey and the garret or attic were erected on the house base where the adobe appears (sometimes brick; oven-baked clay) and the chestnut wood framework.

Parallel strips are joined to others arranged slantwise to lend greater consistency and stability to the fragile framework which will support the adobe bricks.

The internal structure of the Jewish house corresponds to the agricultural tasks specific to the family. The storey was divided between the courtyard or hallway, winery and stable; on the first floor were the prime rooms where the family lived; finally, the garret would serve as a barn and sometimes as a pantry. The kitchen could also be located there.

Puente de la Fuente Chiquita (Little Fountain Bridge

Fuente Chiquita bridge with Hervás in the background

Abajo Street gives out onto the bridge which crosses the Ambroz. At the buttress of the Fuente Chiquita bridge, formed by a funeral headstone from 1395, passing your hand over the polished cut of the stone means taking part in the intra-history of thousands of market gardeners who sharpened their sickles or knives here over the centuries. It also provides an occasion to recall the verses of the poet and folklorist Emilio González de Hervás which goes:

¡Encanto de viejos siglos
con sabores sefarditas!
¡Cofradía aceiturnera!
¡Sinagoga rabilera!
¡Graciosa Fuente Chiquita!
Y como piedra preciosa,
engarzada airosamente,
ese monolito rosa
llamado Machón del Puente.

Almost brushing the branches of the willow, which weeps over the river, perhaps recalling the legendary misfortune of the Maruxa, the wandering Jew, the route takes us to the other side of this body of water to arrive, on the right, at a space where there is a magnificent panoramic view of the Jewish quarter with its set of houses distributed along the bank. And watching it all from the heights, St. Mary's tower.

From this branch of the Ambroz it is easy to imagine the daily life of the Jews of Hervás near the river. Although some sources date the arrival of the Jewish contingent to the town in the 13th century, the first official documentation dates from 1464, linking the Jews to the Zúñiga family, in other words, to the Duchy of Béjar to which Hervás belonged from 1369 until the granting of the privilege of township in 1816.

It should be borne in mind that in the 15th century Hervás had slightly more than two hundred residents, including forty five Jewish families who, with the aid of the Duke, had taken refuge here fleeing the persecutions of 1391. The documents mention families like the Cohen, the Çalama, the Haben Haxiz and the Molho and their relevance in the community remained for many years following the saying en Hervás, In Hervás, Jews predominate.

After the edict of 1492, twenty five families left Hervás bound for Portugal and the rest were subjected to forced conversion to Christianity; some of them returned such as Rabbi Samuel two year later to join the brotherhood of St. Gervase which allowed the Jewish collective to stick together for some time. The cases of crypto Judaism detected in the years following the decree of expulsion and the incessant persecution of the Inquisition meant that the phenomenon of converts in Hervás bore a relevance which is still recalled today with the annual celebration of days dedicated to the Converts.

Rabilero Street

Rabilero Street

Rabilero street is one of the most traditionally Jewish streets in Hervás. Between numbers 3 and 5 there is a very narrow alley which has different popular names, the majority of them related with the clandestinely of a lovers' kiss; crossing it and going back again is to appreciate the private dimensions of a district with different ways of getting in and out in the event of unexpected attacks or chases.

In this area the profusion of flowerpots at the façades and the whitewashing of the houses bring to light the Jewish past with the typicality of the towns of Extremadura, whilst the tavern of Callejilla or the signs announcing the sale of home-made wine also provide another link to the Jews' activity around the product of the vine. In addition to wine and the general influx of Jewish cuisine into gastronomic tradition, in Hervás there is still a liking for some delicacies which are directly inherited from the Sephardis.

Some researchers have claimed the old synagogue was located in a corner with no way out on the left of said Rabilero street. With the foundation of the latter on four columns, it is related with Rabbi Samuel that used his position as Zúñiga renter to get out of imprisonment and expulsion after the decree by the Catholic Monarchs. On the right-hand section, Rabilero street also opens out into a fork which goes all the way around a building before returning to the main route in a block where the maze-like quality of Spanish Jewish quarters is all too prevalent. Number 25 houses the last traditional chestnut wood wickerwork of Hervás, run by Longinos, the son of Longinos who has kept alive an age-old tradition in the town. When it is time to eat, with the scent of the pans seeping through the windows and doors of the houses or the sunset on summer nights, the old Jewish quarter continues to bear testimony to a life which has never ceased to bubble in this place.

Rabbi Samuel

Rabbi Samuel, in addition to owning the synagogue, was one of the renters of ducal property of Álvaro II, along with the Jews of Béjar don Mose Çarfaty, his brother Rabbi Jacob, don Symuel Amigo and Rabbi Davi Abenverga.

Rabbi Samuel was exiled to Portugal after the edict of expulsion of 1492. Two years later he returned to Hervás as a convert.

St. John the Baptist Convent

St. John the Baptist Convent

Leaving behind the Jewish quarter via Convento street, marking another of the limits of the Jewish quarter, you will soon find different contemporary testimonies of Jewish symbology as a homage of a people to a very special part of their past.

Convento square is a prime space endowed with imposing houses presided over by the convento de los Padres Trinitarios (Trinity Fathers Convent) founded in 1664 by María López Burgalés, a descendant of converts. The church façade is made of mortar, imitating red brick, and it is related with that of St. Nicholas of Valladolid: the convent, which has erved as a prison, town hall and school after the Disentailment, today houses a splendid Tourism Hostel after in-depth rehabilitation work which has allowed the best of its architecture to be recovered.

Synagogue street

Synagogue street

Rabilero street gives out onto Synagogue street- where reference is also made to the Jewish temple which is no longer with us - which the routes takes on the right to chance upon another fountain. In turn, Synagogue street, whose layout conserves some original stones of the site, gives out onto Moral street on the right again whose garden walls mark the limit of the Jewish quarter. From this street you can enjoy good views over the district and the church.

The Jewish district

La calle del moral (Moral street)

In Hervás there is no historic record of any segregation of Jews into districts separate from the Christians. Neither have any references been made expressing neighbouring interreligious conflicts in Hervás prior to 1492. The documents never mention the Jewish quarter in Hervás, but rather they refer to «the Jews of Hervás» who lived together in a climate of relative tolerance without any conflicts to warrant segregation, in all likelihood around Corredera and Plaza streets where the converts resided in the 16th century. However, there was a Jewish street close to Rabilero street where the synagogue was traditionally located.

Although some sources date the arrival of the Jewish contingent to the town in the 13th century, the first official documentation dates from 1464, linking the Jews to the Zúñiga family, in other words, to the Duchy of Béjar to which Hervás belonged from 1369 until the granting of the privilege of township in 1816.

It should be borne in mind that in the 15th century Hervás has slightly more than two hundred residents, including forty five Jewish families who, with the aid of the Duke, had taken refuge here fleeing from persecutions of 1391. The documents mention families like the Cohen, the Çalama, the Haben Haxiz or the Molho and for many years their relevance in the community followed the saying:

En Hervás, judíos los más.

After the edict of 1492, twenty five families left Hervás bound for Portugal and the rest were subjected to forced conversion to Christianity; some of them returned such as Rabbi Samuel two year later to join the brotherhood of St. Gervase which allowed the Jewish collective to stick together for some time. The cases of crypto Judaism detected in the years following the decree of expulsion and the incessant persecution of the Inquisition meant that the converts' phenomenon in Hervás bore a relevance which is still recalled today with the annual celebration of days dedicated to the Converts.

The case of the consecrated host

The accusations of Eucharistic profanity imputed to the Spanish Jews never existed nor insult to the consecrated host by the converts of Hervás.

Thanks to a document kept at the General Archive of Simancas, we are informed that the old Christian Juan Sastre, a resident of Zarza de Granadilla, had stolen the holy host and pyx of the church of Aldeanueva del Camino in late April or early May 1506. On the occasion of the offence, the rumour spread amongst the population that New Christians from Aldeanueva del Camino and Hervás had been involved. The vicar-general of the diocese of Plasencia had decreed the imprisonment of the presumed guilty parties and the seizure of their assets.

People were also spreading the rumour that the converts had put the consecrated host into a cauldron of boiling water and, in the meantime, whilst they subject it to torment, a crucifix painted on the altar of the church of Hervás was miraculously sweating. The Inquisition Court de Extremadura intervened whose headquarters was provisionally in Plasencia. Juan Ruiz de Tripiana, the vicar-general of the diocese, was one of the inquisitors at the trial.

Finally, the court imputed the profanation of the Eucharist to Juan Sastre and the converts of Aldeanueva del Camino and Hervás who died at the stake.

The Winery

There were two Jewish wineries on the ground floor of this house alongside the hospital

In the interior of the brotherhood there was a space set aside for making Kosherwine, wine which had been purified according to the rituals laid down by the Law. It had its winery, wooden press or «squeeze», pillars, vats, a winery and a loft to be used as a granary and drying place for agricultural products.

The majority of the rural estates abandoned by the Jews of Hervás in 1492 were vineyards and they constituted the best farmland, sometimes adjoining that of a Christian. In actual fact, the Jewish vineyards were spread around the different estates of the town.

The communal hospital

The house which accommodated the communal Hospital in Vado street

The Jewish hospital was situated in Vado street 2 and 4. After the expulsion edict of 1492 it was run by the converted brotherhood.

The former synagogue

Location of the former synagogue

Tradition has it that the synagogue was located at number 19 Rabilero street. East facing, the synagogue was built with rural elements and in line with the popular construction standards using adobe and chestnut-wood.

On the first storey there was a spacious gallery which jutted out into the street. It was supported by four wooden shafts which rested on stone bases, forming a spacious colonnade at the building's entrance. This outbuilding was knocked down in 1949 owing to its poor state of repair.

The main door was situated in the place of the current barred windows with a second door which has not been conserved either. Behind the synagogue there was an extensive garden bordering the banks of the River Ambroz.

The Hervás Synagogue and its Talmudic School was an important educational and cultural centre in the district under the guidance of Rabbi Samuel. It was regarded as one of the most important in the province along with that of Cáceres or Plasencia.

The synagogue

The synagogue (place of congregation, in Greek) is a Jewish temple. It faces Jerusalem, the Holy City, and it is a place for religious ceremonies, communal prayer, studying and meeting.

The Torahis read at the ceremonies. This task is conducted by the Rabbis aided by the cohen or singing child. The synagogue is not only a house of prayer but also an instruction centre as it is there where the Talmudic schools are usually run.

Men and women sit in separate sections.

The synagogue interior contains:

  1. The Hejal closet located in the east wall, facing Jerusalem, stored inside the Sefer Torah, the scrolls of the Torah, the Jewish sacred law.
  2. The Ner Tamid, the everlasting flame always lit before the Ark.
  3. The menorah, a seven-armed candelabrum, a habitual symbol in worship.
  4. The Bimah, place from where the Torah is read.

Vado Street

Vado street (Ford street)

Turning almost 180 degrees to the right, the riverside promenade connects to Vado street (Ford street). The second street on the left, very narrow and evocative, is known as callejón de los Cofrades (Brotherhood alley) which leads to Amistad Judeo Cristiana street. Throughout the route, as well as the fountains, the presence of small wooden gates stands out which overlooks the façade of some houses: it is an ingenious fire-fighting system, perfectly integrated into the atmosphere of the Jewish quarter.