Lisbon Jewish heritage is part of Lisbon’s identity.
In the Middle Ages, Jews played an important role in the administration of the kingdom, in urban evolution and in the commercial business of the city. Lisbon had four Jewish Quarters and many families lived outside the areas assigned to the Jews, a sign of the population dimension that the community reached in the 15th century.
Most people do not know that the Greater Jewish Quarter of Lisbon was located in Baixa area. After the conquest, Christian Lisbon maintained neighbourhoods where mostly people of other religions lived. In addition to the Mouraria (Moors), which still exists today, Lisbon had at least four Jewish quarters. However over the centuries they have lived almost side by side, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century.
The Jewish Lisbon history, shows us that the jewries occupied a privileged area in the city space. Present throughout the kingdom, Jews achieved significant economic, social, fiscal and cultural relevance. Usually associated with the urban environment, they settled in areas of strong identity. The Jewries or, more simply, the Jewish quarters or Jewish streets. But the area reserved for the Jewish minority in urban Lisbon tended to take on great resemblance. Stemming from similar choices as to its locations and orientations.
In conclusion Jewish Quarter means a street or several houses where Jews lived. In the early days of the monarchy Jews lived in Lisbon mixed with Christians. Although in some areas they have had neighbourhoods of their own.
All these gatherings, that is, the Lisbon Jewish quarters, obey the curfew and, to the sound of the Ave-Marias (18:00 hours). So after that Jewries gates were closed to prevent the coexistence between Jews and Christians in Lisbon. Consequently the legislation was very strict regarding the displacement of Jews outside the communes at night. As a result of this at nightfall in Lisbon all Jewish Quarters gates were closed. So, if the Jew could not enter in time, he should sleep in a guesthouse with other men. This is a fact that confirms the reason why a Jewish women were not away from the commune at night. If a Jew had to go out at night for a great need, he must be with a Christian.
Alfama, Lisbon oldest quarter was once a Jewish neighborhood. Along, Rua da Judiaria, is still visible where was located the Synagogue as well as the Rabbi house. These are some of the few remains of Alfama Jewish past. Jews have lived in this Lisbon area until it’s expulsion in 1496.