The Jewish quarter of Besalú stood next to the river Fluvià for over 500 years and its history lives on in the rich heritage it has left behind. Its story is the principal theme of this route, which provides visitors with a chance to learn more about Jewish culture. It runs through the squares and streets of medieval Besalú, across the bridge that provides access to the town, along the streets of Pont Vell, Tallaferro and Portalet, and visits the house of Astruc, the Cúria Reial and, finally, the Jews’ Square, where the synagogue once stood and from where steps lead down to the purification baths or ‘Mikveh’. These baths are one of the few 12th century Mikvehs still in existence, a fact that fully justifies their status as a valuable part of national heritage.
The starting point of this route is the tourist office, before crossing Pont Vell bridge. Despite having been rebuilt several times, its first historic references date back to the 11th century. The bridge is formed by seven arches in a characteristic angular shape, due to the settlement of the columns on the river pebbles. During medieval times, the county pagus was installed in the fortified tower.
Enter the town along Carrer Pont Vell, where you will come to Plaça Abat Oliva square, where you head for Carrer de Rocafort, taking Carrer Abraham des Castlar (one of the most famous Jewish doctors of Besalú along with Bendit des Logar).
From Carrer Rocafort, take Carrer Comte Tallaferro to reach Plaça de la Llibertat square. Here, take Carrer Pont Vell again and the road to the religious centre of the call (quarter), where you will find the remains of the synagogue, the mikveh or Jewish purification baths, and archaeological remains of the 13th century call.
If you walk down to the river and turn right, you will pass the old medieval wall before reaching La Cúria Reial, which had been the home of a very important Jewish family. It is now home to the Espai Besalú Interpretation Centre, where you can see a fragment of a Jewish tombstone.
Do not miss it
- Besalú, ciutat jueva (Besalú, Jewish town): a weekend devoted to Jewish culture (first weekend in March)
- Aquesta nit, Besalú (Tonight, Besalú): dramatised evening visits (every Wednesday in the summer)
- European Jewish culture day (www.besalu.cat)
- Besalú Medieval (first weekend in September)
- You can also take the guided tours of the Mikveh: from Besalú Tourist Office. Advance booking required on 972 59 12 40 or at email@example.com
- The traditional cuisine of Besalú in the Besalú Gastronòmica restaurants.
Tourism for everyone
The Medieval town of Besalú: The tourist office has audio guides with an audio description for people with visual impairment. It also informs of any obstacles that might be encountered along the route.