8 Força Street,
T: +34 972 216 76
During winter, Girona’s dawns are covered by a halo of icy mystery. To visitors arriving with little geographic reference, the city is presented as an enigma inhabited by beauty. Most choose to wander through the enchanted corners of the old town, as the maze of cobbled streets takes them deep into the heart of the Jewish Quarter, also known as ‘Call’ in the villages of Catalunya.
Walking through its streets, visitors discover the place where the prayers of Girona’s Jews raised to Jerusalem, the old synagogue; a place which today hosts the Bonastruc ça Porta Centre, managed by the Museum of Jewish History and the Institute for Nahmanides studies.
Upon entering its door, visitors can easily imagine the thriving community activity that took place within its walls until 1492; a dismal year, in which the synagogue was sold to the canons of the cathedral.
Years of neglect have failed to clear the mysticism that can still be experienced during the tour of the museum. True medieval atmosphere coexists with the information panels, the resting benches and the dimmed lighting. A heartbeat is felt beyond the inert surroundings. It is a museum with a surreptitious vitality, where the echo of medieval liturgical songs is cast in the breeze of the central patio, a space which once was the very heart of the Call, housing the synagogue, a Talmudic school, a mikvah and a slaughterhouse. In 1492, however, all of that activity suddenly ceased.
Over time, the remaining void was filled and forgotten, as the property moved from hand to hand over many years. In modern times some of its original elements were collected and given to a small cafe where jewish music was played, hebrew was spoken and Jewish books were written. It wasn’t until 1987 that the estate was acquired by the city of Girona, and as a result, its history can be relived today.
Every step we take through the Museum’s eleven rooms brings us closer to the Jewish community that occupied them for nearly seven centuries. Their everyday medieval life is represented in large and small objects of delicate beauty: earrings and buckles from the 13th century, Matzah stamps, synagogue ruins which invite the visitor for prayer and spiritual contemplation. A Ketubah from the fifteenth century highlights the tour, and of course the many graves rescued from the Jewish cemetery of Girona: MontJuïc.
Visiting their homes, knowing where their synagogues were located, their places of study and cemetery; their occupations, their quarrels, their festivals and traditions; what they ate; how they dressed and even the badges they were forced to wear during their finals years in the city; their coexistence with other cultures, other societies and the Inquisition; the diaspora; the farewell to Sefarad…The museum allows the exploration and deep understanding of the Call and life of the Jews of Girona.
In the end, visitors leave the Museum realizing that such cultural wealth could not be deleted. Jewish culture was so deeply rooted and interweaved in Girona’s culture, that it still lives and breathes in each of its corners today. It lives in its stones, its objects, in its newly discovered Mikvah, but especially in the invisible melancholic atmosphere that fills our souls. They lived, loved and dreamed in this city. They were us, and as we recall their world, they will come back to life and never be banished again; this time through our own steps in their own tracks.
[accordion title=”Notes”]A compulsory visit before touring the Call, as it can highly enhance your experience and understanding of the site. Frequent temporary art exhibitions are hosted in an adjacent room, as well as activities such as theater, concerts and cultural events. Monthly programs are available at the Museum’s website. [/accordion]