Lisbon Jewish heritage is part of Lisbon’s identity.
The Jewish Lisbon history: In the Middle Ages, Jews played an essential role in the kingdom’s administration, urban evolution, and the city’s commercial business. Lisbon had four Jewish Quarters, and many families lived outside the areas assigned to the Jews, a sign of the population dimension that the community reached in the 15th century.
Most people do not know the Greater Jewish Quarter of Lisbon in the Baixa area. After the conquest, Christian Lisbon maintained neighborhoods where other religions lived. In addition to the Mouraria (Moors), which still exists today, Lisbon had four Jewish quarters. However, they have lived almost side by side over the centuries, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century.
The Jewish Lisbon history shows us that the Jewries occupied a privileged area in the city. Jews achieved significant economic, social, fiscal, and cultural relevance throughout the kingdom. Usually associated with the urban environment, they settled in areas of a solid identity—the Jewries or, more simply, the Jewish quarters or streets. But the space reserved for the Jewish minority in urban Lisbon tended to resemble remarkably. They stemmed from similar choices as to their locations and orientations.
In conclusion, Jewish Quarter means a street or several houses where Jews lived. In the early days of the monarchy, Jews resided in Lisbon mixed with Christians. Although in some areas, they have had neighborhoods of their own.
Lisbon Jewish Quarters
All these gatherings, the Lisbon Jewish quarters, obey the curfew and the sound of the Ave-Marias (18:00 hours). So after that, Jewry’s gates were closed to prevent the coexistence between Jews and Christians in Lisbon. Consequently, the legislation was stringent regarding displacing Jews outside the communes at night. As a result, all Jewish Quarters gates were closed at nightfall in Lisbon. So, if the Jew could not enter in time, he should sleep in a guesthouse with other men. It’s a fact that confirms why Jewish women were not away from the commune at night. Therefore, if a Jew had to go out at night for a great need, he must be with a Christian.
Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest quarter, was once a Jewish neighborhood. Rua da Judiaria is still visible where the Synagogue and the Rabbi’s house. These are some of the few remains of Alfama’s Jewish past. Jews lived in this Lisbon area until its expulsion in 1496.