Jewish city story of Madrid

As the capital and cultural center of Spain, Madrid is one of the most visited cities in Europe. Immerse yourself into Spanish heritage with streets invigorated by rhythmic Flamenco music, cultural venues at the Prado and Reina Sofia showcasing world-class European art, and a deep Jewish history hidden in its timeless neighborhoods.

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Prado Museum

The Museo del Prado opened to the public on 19 November 1819 as a Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture. In 2019, we celebrated our Bicentenary, a commemoration that will reveal the path covered since 1819 until today. On this special occasion, we wanted to reflect on the future and the forthcoming challenges for this and the other great Museums of ancient painting: the need to attract social groups that traditionally are not attracted by the collections, to encourage gender and minority research studies or the challenges caused by overcrowding. Furthermore, for the following years the finalization of the Prado Campus is expected, adding the last building, the Hall of Realms, the old Buen Retiro Palace, an incorporation that will imply a rethinking of the current display of the collections. The activity plan for the bicentenary reinforces the usual programme of the Museo del Prado, insisting on the above mentioned aspects. The building that today houses the Museo Nacional del Prado was designed by architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785. It was constructed to house the Natural History Cabinet, by orders of King Charles III. However, the building's final purpose - as the new Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculptures - was the decision of the monarch's grandson, King Ferdinand VII, encouraged by his wife Queen Maria Isabel de Braganza.The Royal Museum, soon quickly renamed the National Museum of Paintings and Sculptures and subsequently the Museo Nacional del Prado, opened to the public for the first time in November 1819. For centuries, artists have drawn on Biblical themes and stories to depict their religious devotion, several of which depict Jewish life, and Judaism in general. The Prado Museum is full of artwork depicting Jewish life and Spain's Sephardic past. One such masterpiece is the Las Meninas which shows the truth behind Diego Velazquez's purported Jewish heritage.

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Tours of Madrid

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World Jewish Travel Official October 25, 2022

The Jewish Story of Madrid, Spain

As the capital and cultural center of Spain, Madrid is one of the most visited cities in Europe. Immerse yourself into Spanish heritage with streets invigorated by rhythmic Flamenco music, cultural venues at the Prado and Reina Sofia showcasing world-class European art, and a deep Jewish history hidden in its timeless neighborhoods. Madrid is interwoven in the fabric tale of Spanish Jews, or Sephardic Jews, that were part of a mass expulsion from the country during the 15th century. The city awaits you to discover its rich history preserving the city’s Jewish legacy and modern attractions giving hope to a returning Jewish diaspora once excluded. Jewish Culture and History in Spain  Traces of Jews in Spain on record date back as early as the 3rd century, with a Latin burial inscription found in the Spanish village of Adra—references to Safarad, Hebrew for Spain, can be found in earlier texts in the Book of Obadiah, the specific location can’t be concluded. However, it was not until the 11th century that documents Jews in Madrid. Madrid wasn’t always the vibrant and energetic capital it is today—a hub more heavily focused on Toledo, less than an hour’s drive southwest of the capital. Like many Sephardic communities, those living in Madrid thrived in the Judería, or Jewish quarter. It was a four-block district near present-day Teatro Real, survived by period Jewish homes. It was a self-sustained community with businesses owned by and serving the community. The decline of Jews in Madrid came in 1391 when angry mobs destroyed much of the community during countrywide riots leaving 50,000 Jewish casualties who refused to convert to Christianity during the reconquest. By 1481, only approximately 200 Jews remained in Madrid. The Spanish Inquisition of 1478 arranged for a mass conversion to Catholicism and led to the Alhambra Decree, signed in 1492, effectively expelling Jews from Spain. As a result, up to 100,000 Sephardic Jews were displaced, leading to a global Jewish diaspora in Cuba and around the Mediterranean.  With the expulsion happening soon after the riots, Madrid’s Jewish population would not get a major uplift until the 20th century. A Jewish Community Rebirthed Today, Madrid is a center for Spain’s efforts to make the country welcoming to Sephardic Jews and their descendants. Legislation continues to pass in favor of the Jewish community, such as the Religious Freedom Law that allowed the building of the Beth Yaacov Synagogue in 1968; also, to the Sephardic Jewish diaspora being granted Spanish citizenship for proving a descendant line. In addition, the upcoming Jewish Museum of Spain will exhibit more than 3,000 years of history and successful contributions to society from the past and present. These efforts have blossomed Madrid into the most populous city in Spain for Jews—home to more than 15,000 Jews. Experience Jewish Heritage in Madrid at These Attractions Uncover remains of the Jewish Quarter in Lavapiés Trace the steps of Medieval Spain through the narrow streets of Lavapiés, Madrid’s trendiest neighborhoods for culture, dining, entertainment, and nightlight. You’ll discover colorful graffiti, restaurants from different cultures, and plenty of traces of the Jewish heritage that once thrived here.  People watch in the Plaza de Lavapiés while reflecting on this site that once featured a fountain local Jews used to wash their feet. Wander down Calle de la Fe, formerly Calle Sinagoga, for the local synagogue no longer standing. Enjoy nightlife with a live theatrical performance at Teatro del Barrio. Visit the Beth Yaacov Synagogue Sephardic tunes ring throughout the Beth Yaacov Synagogue as if a ‘welcome home’ siren to the Jewish diaspora. It’s the first official synagogue built in 1968 since Sephardic Jews were expelled in the 15th century. The synagogue is open to practicing Jews to participate in prayer time and Shabbat meals. [caption id="attachment_40493" align="alignnone" width="1956"] Beth Yaacov Synagogue in Madrid | Image credit: 24 Mars 2006, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons[/caption] Discover Jewish Art at The Prado Museum Step into the UNESCO Golden Triangle of Art to discover the masterpieces of the Prado Museum that hold an abundance of Jewish history and secrets. For more than two centuries, the Prado Museum has built its collection of more than 20,000 artworks. Private tours lead you through the galleries to see the famous Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez, a Spanish Jewish painter known for his royal portraits, scenes of Sephardic tales, and artistic renditions of Biblical stories. Pay Tribute to Jewish Lives in the British cemetery of Madrid  Cemeteries hold countless stories forever buried beneath the Earth. Browsing the tombstones in the British Cemetery of Madrid allude to early Jewish communities that returned to Madrid during the mid-1800s. Tour the grounds to see gravesites from the Bauer family, a prominent Jewish family, amongst 30 other gravesites. The Bauer Family was headed by Ignacio Bauer, a Jewish Banker operating as an agent with the Rothschild Bank in the 1850s. In addition to the Bauer family tombs, you can also visit the Bauer Palace, the former residence. Celebrate the Holidays with Janucá en la Calle One of the best times for Jewish travel to Madrid is during the holiday season. Gather in the Plaza de la Villa with crowds of up to 50,000 people for the Janucá en the Calle, a festive Hanukkah celebration. The holidays kick off with this festival of lights, featuring musical performances, reading of Hebrew scriptures, lighting the menorah, and more for the entire family! Ready to experience the Jewish side of Madrid? Engaging cultural tours like the Nora Kapan Sephardic tour explore Jewish history across Spain with a brief stop in Madrid, or the Jewish Heritage tour Madrid that takes you to all of Madrid’s most iconic sites. You’ll enjoy authentic Spanish and Jewish cuisines with dining experiences at Cafe Madrid, La Escudilla, and other Jewish-inspired restaurants. And cozy accommodations that put you within steps of connecting your Jewish heritage to the Spanish Capital.

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Hotels in Madrid

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Invitada de boda #jewishwedding en Madrid, Ayelet y toda su familia vinieron de Israel a la boda de su hermano que vive en Madrid, en fincasolimpar a cargo de lifegourmetcatering y kosherlifegourmet . Quedaron súper contentos de su visita a Madrid y lo bien que se sintieron, disfrutaron de la boda y de sus #maquillajeinvitada Gracias por confiar en Sílvia Martina Eventos ! #jewishwedding #jewishmadrid #kosher #maquillajenovias #weddingplanner #bodasdelujo ...

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Han sido unos días maravillosos compartiendo mi amor por el legado judío español con los estudiantes de Kivunim. Muchos han sido los momentos mágicos, pero sin duda alguna para mí el más importante ha sido el encuentro con los estudiantes del colegio Ibn Gabirol de Madrid y con su director rabbi Pinhas Punturello. Un encuentro que me ha colmado de esperanza por el futuro de Sefarad.
#kivunim #ibngabirol #colegiojudiomadrid #jewishmadrid #jewishspain #spain🇪🇸 #israel🇮🇱

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By the Royal Palace of Madrid with our amazing tour guide Gerardo.
#royalpalaceofmadrid #madrid🇪🇸 #travel #tourism #tours #jewishmadrid #jewishspain #kivunim

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