Besalú oozes history from every corner: every street, square and building provides clues to the town’s past and the people that have lived there through the centuries.
The Jewish community that thrived from the end of the 9th to the 15th century is a case in point and its valuable historical legacy can be appreciated on this route through the call, Besalú’s Jewish quarter that has it origin in the Jewish community who lived there in centuries past.
This route begins in Plaça Llibertat and heads up Carrer Comte de Tallaferro and then Carrer Rocafort: on entering the latter, try and image the conversations that must have once taken place here between two of Besalú’s illustrious Jewish doctors, Abraham des Castlar and Bendit des Logar.
From Carrer Rocafort, drop down towards the old bridge: look out on your right for a mezuzah (a symbol identifying a Jewish house) on the side of the doorway into the house situated opposite the alley leading down to the mikvah.
From here you could continue onto the Pont Vell (old bridge), but we will instead take the narrow alley down to visit the Synagogue, the purification baths (mikvah) and archaeological remains in the heart of the call.
If from here you head down to the river and then turn right, the path will take you alongside the medieval wall and to the Cúrial Real Cultural Space. Here, another audiovisual provides an excellent overview of the history of Besalú; as well, you can visit the building’s gothic hall that was once home to the Astruc family, an important Jewish family that lived outside the call. Visitors can also watch an audiovisual with a virtual reconstruction of the medieval synagogue. Details from the town’s tourist office: Plaça Llibertat, 1.
- Besalú, Jewish town: first weekend in March, devoted to Jewish culture.
- Tonight, Besalú: dramatised nocturnal visits (Wednesdays in July and August).
- European Jewish Culture Day (www.redjuderias.org).
- Medieval Besalú (first weekend in September).
- You can also participate in guided tours to Miqvé. Departure from Besalú Tourist Office at 12pm, at 13.30h, 16.30h to 18h. Advance booking on 972 59 12 40
- Traditional Besalú cuisine in the restaurants belonging to the group Besalú Gastronòmica.
Did you know … ?
Besalú is the setting for the book Bridge of the Jews by Martí Gironell that has become one of the best-selling Catalan books of recent years. The novel, which recreates the construction of the famous bridge, is one of the sources of inspiration of the guided tours that visit the town. Other parts of La
Garrotxa such as the Alta Garrotxa have also served as the inspiration for local novelists (see page 18).