Girona’s Cathedral stands atop a magnificent endless stairway, unfit for the faint-hearted. Next to the Cathedral was once the location of the city’s first synagogue, built around 880 by the first Jewish settlers of Girona; possibly making it the oldest synagogue in Catalonia. This, however, wasn’t a magnificent temple, much less! According to historians, it was a small house which was reused for religious purposes.
Not far from the Cathedral, going down Pujada de la Catedral, you’ll find another enclosure with a strong tie to the city’s Jewish past: Casa Cundaro; a property which embodies much more than its apparent medieval charm. The large boulders in its warm colored facade hide a secret inner courtyard which hosts rooms ideal for couples looking for a romantic getaway with a touch of rustic distinction. Breakfast (hand and homemade) is served next door at the Hotel Historic. Casa Cundaro is managed so that its visitors can plan their time in Girona freely, while its location in the heart of the Call’s urban fabric will entice you with its maze of narrow streets, small iron windows and low wooden doors.
But what’s really fascinating about this establishment is the historic treasure it holds within. Venture into the central courtyard to discover a surface of enclosed walls with strange markings on one of its stones – the marks of a medieval mezuzah. It seems this wall was constructed in later times whearas the builder had completely ignored the strange groove carved into one of its stones. We’ve learned that an archaeological survey was performed at the center of the courtyard where several vessels belonging to a medieval Jewish kitchen were found buried in debris and soil. One of these vessels is proudly preserved at the neighboring Hotel Historic; just ask its friendly manager to examine the small dishes, and you’ll be holding 700 years of history in your own hands.
The unraveling of the building’s mysteries continues through the opening of a seemingly ordinary door leading to what in medieval times was the private house of the hotel’s owners: Laporta House. Many tons of debris were discarded from this site to recover the structure of several Jewish houses that are today part of a set, displaying a density of details in which you can vividly appreciate the everyday Jewish life of its former inhabitants. Houses around the Call were typically of small openings, gravel flooring and boulder walls, as well as a humble exterior appearance which sometimes hid magnificent courtyards. According to researchers, the basement inside Laporta House sits on the medieval structure of two former crossing lanes of the Call, into which the surrounding houses would open their doors. The remains of these old door frames can still be appreciated together with the chisels where mezuzahs once hanged. On the tour you can also discover the place where animals were kept and where the lively morning market once stood.
Everything here is frozen in time, whispering in your ears stories of the past, triggering the senses of your imagination. Small passages, traces of ancient stairs and small windows define the places where perhaps, at one time, a young Jewish woman would melancholically whisper to her beloved from a balcony. Maybe these houses once hosted within its walls the likes of the Kabbalist Bonastruc Ça Porta (Nahmanides) or Jacob ben Sheshet or Ezra of Gerona. Some people say that around the alleys of Casa Cundaro one can picture the image of a rabbi “hurried, rushing to the Synagogue with a roll under his arm; sandals slipping over the polished stone and his head bent down, concentrated in transcendent thoughts.
[accordion title=”Location”]Cundaro House (La Casa Cundaro) is located in Pujada de la Catedral 7 in Girona 17001. Teléfono: +34 972 22 35 83. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – web: www.casacundaro.com. [/accordion]
[accordion title=”Our recommendation”] During the week long Flors du Temps festival, Laporta House is decorated with furniture and objects vividly personafying a typical Jewish medival household – a must see!. [/accordion]