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Jewish Heritage: Barcelona
18 Centuries of History

Professor Arnie Greenberg

Tours of Jewish Quarter  & narrow Marlet street  synagogue are very popular.

The original Roman wall can still be seen in parts of Barcelona. The city was very small until quite recently  and now its all only 200 years old.

But if you dig deep you’ll find some of Barcelona’s history.

If there’s a mountain called Montjuic where Jews were buried, there must have been a Jewish quarter and there certainly must have been a synagogue.

Documentation goes back to the eighth century.

Jews lived in what was referred to as the CALL from the Hebrew word cahal to designate the communal meeting place –ie., the synagogue

 Entrance to old synagogue




It is the oldest synagogue in Spain and in Europe. The fact that it has been resurrected is in itself a miracle when you think of how many years it was used for things other than religious services or celebrations. It is extremely tiny and on a narrow alley in a warren of tiny interwoven streets that betray its age.  Here in the ancient center of Barcelona on C/ Marlet, 5 what is left of a Jewish Catalonian house of worship.

Barcelona is the only city in Catalonia that has an active Jewish congregation and almost every day the tiny house of worship is visited by groups of foreigners on a walking tour through the old Gothic District. These tours are operated by the government by scholars and not by Jews. 


The site dates back to the reign of Emperor Caracalla around the 12th century. In the 13th century 15% of Barcelona’s population were Jewish. That community witnessed a bloody day in 1391 when the quarter or Call was attacked. The street name was changed and the building and all the community possessions passed into the hands of the king.

Today one enters a long single room on Marlet Street.

 Modern Barcelona from Montjuic

 At one side is a menorah and chairs and on the other is the section that has been dug up to reveal the 15th century dying vats used for fabrics in the years that followed. But there is something moving in this subterranean room as we enter the tiny door with bowed heads to honor the memory of a devastated community.

The orientation of the Roman Walls is to Israel and now, centuries later, the rebirth of this sacred space allows the presence of visitors to keep the tradition alive.

Apartments were built in the upper stories in the 17th century which leaves the visitor standing in a tiny but holy place.

A Jewish walking Tour of Barcelona can be easily arranged through the city Tourist office. This is only one of the many walking tours you can take. The old city is a hodgepodge of narrow alley-ways. Moving around by foot is the easiest and most rewarding.

Recuperation of the Sinagoga Major was started by Associacio Call de Barcelona (Established in 1996)

Phone: 93 317 07 90

Tues.-Sat 11-2 PM and 4-7 PM
Sunday 11-2 PM
Free admission
Metro Liceu (L3) and Jaume 1 (L4)

 seniors on a Sunday stroll to meet friends.

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You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at


Over the past few years, Professor Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the globe including Italy and most of China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters from St.Petersburg to Moscow. 

"He took a group to Greece and another to northern Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico.  His newly found spare time is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders..  "So You Want To Be A Tour Leader." 

Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.  Keep reading his web for travel ideas.  His next novel HELLSTORM'S Folly, will be available this fall. He now lives in British Columbia.

Go to: or contact him directly at

(More about the writer.)


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Last Revised: Friday, May 15, 2015 06:38:58 AM
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