I feel it is appropriate after the terorist attack yesterday in Barcelona to highlight Barcelona.
I am safe obviously because i am on the island. Thank God i was not in Barcelona at this time as i usually am. I know Barcelona pretty well and i love the city. That terrorist van stopped right outside one of my favorite hangouts ,The Macabbi restaurant where all the Israelis gather. This is just across from the hotel i always stay at.
This is the synagogue ,i believe the oldest one in Europe ,found in Barcelona in the Old Jewish “Call” the Jewish Ghetto in that city. It dates back to Roman times. The “Call” is dominated by the high church towers because the Inquisition was able to check if there was smoke or not coming from chimneys on Shabbat in order to ferret out” Secret Jews.”
The Call is the name of the old Jewish settlement in Barcelona which was in the northeast part of the old Roman city of Barcino in the 12th to 14th century. However very little of the original quarter remains. The name “call” means “narrow street” or “lane” and was used for all the narrow streets in the two “call” areas called “Call Major” and “Call Menor.”
The “Call Major” was inside the old Barcelona Roman city walls . The “Call Minor” was outside the Roman walls. The call was an enclosed area, but the Jewish residents also had houses and busines outside the call, as well as properties and farmland outside Barcelona and house and a Jewish cemetary on Montjuic hill which still bears the name “Montjuic” meaning “Mount Jew.”
In the early thirteenth century, the population of the “Call” had grown and the neighbourhood was too small, so another area was designated this time outside the walled city, known as the Call Menor. This consisted of five blocks of houses, a plaza and a synagogue. The synagogue was since converted into a church and convent and the square no longer exists. Very litte remains of the buildings.
Relations between the Christian and Jewish community in Barcelona were initially good. They owned businesses together and count-kings entrusted Jews with public positions of great prominence. In 1215 several measures were taken to curb Jewish commercial activity, including control of loans, no prominent positions with authority over Christians and Jews were obliged to wear badges, etc.. coexistence deteriorated until 1391, when the Jewish quarter was attacked and 300 inhabitants were killed. After that Barcelona would never have a specifically Jewish neighbourhood again. The King authorised the use of stones from the old Jewish cementary on the hill Montjuïc, “Mount Jew,” for building of tenements in Barcelona. You can still see stones with Hebrew inscriptions on various buildings in Barcelona, for example on the facade of buildings on Plaça de Sant lu and Plaça del Rei.