Did you know that there was a Jewish community in Barcelona for almost four centuries? Do you Know where are the main streets? The footprint of Judaism is called The Call. Take my hand and let’s take a walk through history.

Before to start, an advice, The Call has changed much over time, its appearance and its buildings are no longer the same. If you’re going to walk its streets is advisable to start early in the morning, with the first rays of light, before the bustling life begins with its daily routine. It’s the perfect time, only the imagination must get through. Learning to look to learn watching.

Call, Qahal, community in Hebrew, Latin influence callis, small street or alley. In Catalonia the term was used to describe the Jewish communities established in its territory. The first official documents speak of a Jewish society in Barcelona date back to the mid-eleventh century. Els Usages of Barcelona, texts of legal norms, mentioned provisions concerning the Jews. Previous datas already confirm their presence as small family groups outside the Roman walls, mostly farmers. Montjuic was already used as a graveyard, hence its name (Jewish Mount).

The Aljama was not isolated from the rest but kept an oligarchic government outside the municipal authorities. Dependent and paid taxes directly to the king or his representative. A corporation organized under Jewish law, with its own social, religious and educational institutions. The population once numbered four thousand inhabitants. The synagogues were the center of social life and schools held most of their parties, meetings or assemblies, also solved neighborhood conflicts.

They had craftsmen, highly skilled and valued, weavers of silk veils, bookbinders, cobblers or goldsmiths. The rabbis of the Talmudic school dealing with religious affairs. Philosophers, scientists, writers, translators and ambassadors kept their culture alive. Many of his writings have survived to this day.

Relations between the Christian and Jewish community were fluid and enriching until 1215. Then King James I issued the Concili IV of LATERA where restrictive measures were taken. Higher taxes and interest on loans, a marking on their clothes as distinctive or closure of the district to the rest of the city, among others.

In the fourteenth century began the beginning of the end. First came the Black Death, was unfairly blamed Jews poison water. On the other hand the economic and political crisis in Barcelona. Social movements aimed at religious minorities as causing the situation. This heap of circumstances triggered L’Avalot 1391. Across the Iberian Peninsula attacks on Jewish communities multiplied. On 5 and 7 August El call of Barcelona is attacked, over 300 Jews were killed, a few others flee and the rest convert to Christianity.

In 1401 the king gives a privilege for which Barcelona no longer have a recognized Jewish community.


Some signs on the streets guide us. We start with one of the main doors from the Plaça de Sant Jaume, went up the Carrer de Sant Honorat leaving behind what was once the Castell Nou or Tower of Hercules. Continuing along Carrer Sant Servet arrived at the Bajada de Santa Eulalia, the end of it was limited by the Roman wall. Retracing our steps we take the Carrer de Sant Domenech, was the main route and had an entrance to the Great Synagogue, the current number nine.


Located in La Placeta de Sant Manuel Ribé go down another major street, L’Arc de Sant Ramon. Its irregular shape, as four, had no outlet to the Carrer del Call, an overpass communicated with the Castell Nou. Without leaving Sant Ramon and by shearing with the Placeta observe a sixteenth century mansion, features architectural elements from earlier times and today some archeological excavations are taking place. It houses the MUHBA El Call, a history museum where we can see part of the excavation and temporary exhibitions on Jewish community.


From Sant Ramon part one of the best known streets Carrer de Marlet, owes its fame to the registration or plaque on the wall of door number one. The stone was found by the owner when he built the house in 1820, he wanted to replace it in the same place where it should be and says, “constantly burning flame.” His narrow path is in contrast to the straight roads, a feature of Roman urbanism. Arriving at the Street Fruita there’s a low doorway, was another entrance to the largest synagogue. Now houses the Association of Barcelona Call, whose main objective is to recover part of the old synagogue.


Down El Carrer dels Banys Nous we can imagine the path of Roman wall on our left, numerous excavations prove it. At the confluence with the Carrer del Call and Carrer de la Boqueria were the public baths. Today, instead, we see a baroque building with prominent graffiti on its façade. The baths were founded in 1160 and its construction stood until 1835.


El Carrer del Call, was the southern boundary of the neighborhood and had no exit to the street dels Banys Nous until demolition of the wall, still seen today in the front part of number five as a historical record. Highlights restored medieval houses on doors numbers five and seven. If we continue downwards arrived at the “Quatre Cantons del Call” crossroads of four streets, La Boqueria, d’Avinyó, El Call and Banys Nous.


Our tour ends in the Call Menor, this being an extension of the Mayor but were not communicated each other. It was formed by the increase of the Jewish population. Four major streets form their space, Boqueria, the Volta del Remei, L’Arc de Santa Eulalia and Carrer d’en Rauric. Two medieval towers of the thirteenth century with arcade output the streets of Reemei and Santa Eulalia, both communicating Street Boqueria with Ferran. After l’Avalot 1391 settled most Jewish converts to Christianity here.


Places we can visit:

MUHBA THE CALL, Placeta Manuel Ribé, s / n. Free admission. Visit temporary exhibition, Solomon ben Adret, The Triumph of Orthodoxy, €20. The center will be closed from November until the spring of 2015 by remodeling.

ACB, Call Association of Barcelona, C / Marlet, open Monday to Friday from 10:30 to 18:00 h, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 to 15 h.




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