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Jewish heritage in Porto and Douro

Pedro Rio CC BY-NC-SA

Due to its location by the sea the city of Porto has always been a strategic point on the commercial level. Thanks to the importance that its seaport attained, the first Jews that settled in Portugal arrived in the city of Porto. 

The history of the Jewish community in Portugal is very rich and still to this day many monuments are a testimony of their presence in the northern region of Portugal.  Villages, towns and cities are witnesses of the passage of this community through Portugal. Their faith was kept in secret but some converted to Catholicism; the new Christians.  

The growth of commerce in the Portugal of the Middle Ages owes much to the work of the Jews. In agriculture, the cultivation of vineyards and of olives and the production of wine and oil respectively, were very important for the Jews. The passage of Jews through our country was a very important contribution to the growth of these activities in Portugal.

You will find some symbols that are the proof of their presence in our country, especially in relation to the Jewish faith. While walking through the streets of Oporto you will notice these symbols. The cathedral, the Clerics Tower and even the ruins of the Monchique Convent are places where you will take a journey to ancient times and ages past. 

In Alfândega do Porto and in the Ribeira Square you will find some of the Jewish altars that have resisted the passing of time. Near the Palácio da Bolsa and the old Ferreira Borges Market there was a Jewish neighbourhood at whose centre there was a Synagogue located in the what is now Rua do Comércio do Porto.  

The Douro region also belongs on the map of the passage of the Jews through Portugal. Lamego was one of the cities with the largest Jewish community presence between the Douro and the Tagus rivers. Torre de Moncorvo, Vila Flor, Freixo de Expada à Cinta, Vila Real and S. João da Pesqueira are the places with the most physical and historical marks showing the passage of the Jews.

Be sure to visit the monuments that don't hide the presence, passage, importance and historical treasure of the Jewish community in the northern region of Portugal and learn a bit more about the Jewish legacy in Portugal.


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