10 Day Tour of Jewish Portugal

Special Tour 10 day Availability: January 1, 1970
Portugal Portugal

Following in the Footsteps of the Marranos and Portugal’s Secret Jews
The Jewish presence in Iberia existed long before Portugal became a country. The contribution of Portuguese Jews to the arts, philosophy, commerce and sciences helped create the rich cultural heritage of this nation. Our unique tour focuses on places of Jewish interest as well as the fascinating people who continue to contribute to Portuguese society. These descendants of the Inquisition often referred to as Marranos are now known as the B’nai Anousim (Children of Oppression). Forced to convert during those awful days, many secretly and over the centuries, retained their precious Jewish practices as well as pride in their true heritage. These are the Secret Jews of Portugal – proof, to this day, that our people’s soul cannot be vanquished. Staying in gorgeous hotels, you will enjoy both physical luxury and a rare inimitable Jewish experience.

Lisbon – Estoril – Carcais – Évora – Marvão – Castelo de Vide – Covilhã – Belmonte – Guarda – Trancoso – Viseu – Lamego – Douro Valley – Porto

Price per person
$4,990 US Land Only
$   740 US Single Supplement

3 nights Lisbon PortoBay Liberdade Hotel
1 night Marvão Pousada de Marvão
2 nights Belmonte Mt Sinai Hotel
1  night Viseu Pousada de Viseu
1 night Duoro Vintage House Hotel
1 night Porto PortoBay Flores Hotel

9 breakfasts

Your land cost includes:
Private arrival and departure transfers
Private touring and sightseeing
Douro River cruise and wine tasting
Private licensed guides
Deluxe accommodation in Lisbon, Marvão, Viseu, Douro Valley, Porto
First Class accommodation in Belmonte
Breakfast daily at the hotels
Complete program with insights to the Jewish history of Portugal and other highlights of the country
All taxes and fees

Your land cost does not include 

Air into and out of Lisbon
Departure taxes/fuel surcharges or airport improvement fees subject to change without prior notice
Insurance – non-refundable insurance premium
Documentation including passport fees
Early check in and late check out
Single room supplement – a limited number of single rooms is available on payment of supplement
Meals not mentioned
Beverages not specified
Optional tours not quoted
City tax to be paid directly at the hotel
Gratuities for individual services such as laundry and valet service or any other items of a purely personal nature
Tips to drivers/local guides/hotel and restaurant staff – tipping is at the discretion of the traveler
E. & O.E.


For information and reservations, contact Janice Snider.

Day 1 Monday Arrival in Lisbon

Arrival at Lisbon airport. Transfer to your hotel in the heart of this beautiful city. In the afternoon begin a panoramic sightseeing tour of Lisbon. Passing the Rossio reach the Largo da Graça from where you can admire the magnificent city view, the Tagus River and the “Seven Hills” of Lisbon. Continue to Porta do Sol descending on foot through Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest area to the “Rua da Judiaria” the old Jewish Quarter with its narrow, cobbled streets. You will also stand in the Praça do Comércio where the dreaded “Autos-de-Fé” of the Inquisition took place. Return to the hotel.  Remainder of the day at leisure. PortoBay Liberdade Hotel. (B)

Day 2 Tuesday Lisbon

This morning visit the Shaare Tikva Synagogue restored in 2004. Continue your panoramic visit in Lisbon to the Riverside area.  Belém-Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most representative monuments of Manueline style in Portugal. View the Monument to the Discoveries which owes much to the Portuguese Jews and “New-Christians” as many forced converts were called. From Torre de Belém guarding the mouth of the Tagus River explorers once set out on voyages to discover trade routes to Africa, Asia and the New World. (Brazil, of course, is the most famous product of these journeys.) See the striking Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument which celebrates the Portuguese adventurers who took part in the Golden Age of Discovery. Return to the hotel in the afternoon. PortoBay Liberdade Hotel. (B)


Day 3 Wednesday Lisbon – Estoril – Sintra – Cascais – Lisbon

Depart on a full day excursion to Estoril and Sintra, a World Heritage Site also known as “Lord Byron’s Glorious Eden.” Sintra was used as a retreat by the Romans, the Moors, and the Portuguese Kings all of whom revelled in its location, beauty, wooded ravines and natural water springs. Its former Jewish Quarter where Jews lived and mixed at the Court before the forced conversions of 1497 is still visible today. Visit the glorious National Royal Palace. En route back to Lisbon stop at Cascais, once an important 14th century Jewish community which also played in part in Jewish refugee life during the Holocaust.  Aware of the significance of its Jewish Heritage, the Cascais Municipality opened the Espaço do Exilio Estoril (Exiles Memorial Center) to preserve this memory. Back to Lisbon. PortoBay Liberdade Hotel. (B)

Day 4 Thursday Lisbon – Évora – Marvão

In the morning drive to Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the main Inquisition Centers of Portugal. In the past, Évora boasted one of the largest Jewish communities in Portugal and several houses still bear traces of the old Mezuzot. See the Court of the Inquisition and the Inquisitor’s Palace which displays the coat of arms of the “Holy” Office. Later continue to Marvão, a geranium-filled walled village perched on a high rocky peak. Many Jews once lived in Marvão. The Museum Municipal houses two tombstones decorated with carved menorahs telling of the former Jewish presence. A few houses still retain carved crosses on the door posts – paradoxically, a sign of Jewish survival. These blatant signs were a necessity at a time when Jews were forced to identify as Christians (and yet carried on their traditions in secret). Check in at the hotel. In the evening relax at the Pousada while appreciating a magnificent view of the hilly surroundings. Pousada de Marvão. (B)

Day 5 Friday  Marvão – Castelo de Vide – Covilhã – Belmonte

Depart for Castelo de Vide famed for its authentic medieval Juderia (Jewish Quarter). Along the maze of narrow cobbled alleys nestled beneath the Castle we find a 15th Century Synagogue and adjacent religious school recently restored by using the original architectural lines including the Rabbi’s home, the village fountain and even the oven used for baking. The Interpretation Center of Garcia de Orta and the House of the Inquisition are two new projects that complement the visit to the village offering exceptional contents and experiences.

En route to Belmonte stop at Covilhã and visit Museu dos Lanifícios, an 18th Century woolen-textile factory accidentally discovered during the enlargement of the adjacent University. The textile industry was once dominated by the Jews of the region. Upon arrival at Belmonte, check in at the only Jewish hotel in Portugal. You have an option to join Shabbat Services with the local Community at the Beit Eliahu Synagogue. Mt. Sinai Hotel. (B)

Day 6 Saturday Belmonte

Enjoy a  full day of rest in Belmonte or join an optional tour. Crowned by the medieval castle, the town of Belmonte stands out for the beauty of its landscapes and monuments    as well as for its fabulous strategic position which has for centuries made it dominate territories and communication routes. To its credit, Belmonte also welcomed people of other creeds and cultures. A Jewish community was established that has survived for centuries. It still exists today – heir to the ancient historical presence of the Sephardic Jews. Even throughout the time of the Inquisition, Jews managed to preserve many of their rites, prayers and social relations. Despite the pressure of the Catholics, many “New Christians” continued to marry only among themselves for centuries. In 1989, the community was officially recognized and in 1996 inaugurated the synagogue “Beit Eliahu” (Elijah’s House) appropriately located in the old Jewish Quarter. The Jewish Cemetery was restored in 2001, and in 2005, the Jewish Museum opened portraying the history of the Sephardic presence in Portugal and including a Memorial of the Inquisition. Since 2011, Belmonte  has also hosted the “Portuguese Network of Jewish Quarters.” This Community consists   of twenty-five families all descendants of the “Secret Jews” who perpetuated their religion against all odds for centuries. In Belmonte’s old Jewish Quarter, we can observe small houses with crosses engraved on them – a protective by Jewish people to escape persecution. Optional visit to Caria where such crosses can also be seen in abundance        in a variety of forms. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Mt Sinai Hotel. (B)

Day 7 Sunday Belmonte – Guarda – Trancoso – Viseu   

Leave Belmonte this morning we head to Guarda to visit its Jewish Quarter. Guarda is a 12th century town once home to a thriving Jewish Community. It was also the scene for the love story between a Portuguese King and a Jewish shoemaker’s daughter whose descendant would take the throne as João IV! Jews have lived here since the 13th Century. Recently, a repair at “Bandarra’s shop” led to the discovery of a long-lost arch with inscriptions believed to be that of the synagogue. Continue to Trancoso, a well-preserved walled town. The Jewish presence in Trancoso dates back to the 12th century. In the Medieval Era, Jews prospered in the middle and upper classes. The Jewish and “New Christian” legacy still lives in the written documents, local traditions and in buildings    such as the Gato Preto House or Poço do Mestre (Master’s well) and other dwellings of the historic center. The town of Trancoso has honored its Jewish heritage with the establishment of the Isaac Cardoso Center for Jewish Interpretation along with a new synagogue called Beit Mayim Hayim – “the House of Living Waters.” A mezuzah was affixed to the entrance of the synagogue – the first mezuzah in the village for hundreds of years!  Continue to Viseu, one of the seven counties in Portugal to have its own “Auditor”  – a Rabbi who would act on behalf of the Chief Rabbi in all Jewish matters. Vestiges of a synagogue can still be seen in the Old Jewish Quarter. Pousada de Viseu. (B)

Day 8 Monday Viseu – Lamego – Douro Valley

Depart to the Douro Valley and visit Lamego. Its history has been associated to its immense Jewish Community that was responsible for the trade and craft dynamics that livened up the city in the late Middle Ages. Visit the Old Jewish quarter from the 13th century and continue to the distinct Douro Valley, a UNESCO Landscape – and the world’s first demarcated wine region. Enjoy a cruise up from Pinhão in a traditional wooden boat that will slowly make its way up the river to the region’s most beautiful hillsides and famous wine estates or quintas. Douro’s landscape of terraced vineyards is breathtaking. Later, at a traditional Estate, enjoy a wine-tasting. Spend a tranquil night in a boutique hotel by the river. Vintage House Hotel. (B)

Day 9 Tuesday Porto

This morning proceed to Porto, capital of northern Portugal beautifully located above the Douro River.  Enjoy a walking tour in the old quarter or Baixa, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. Visit the Cathedral, dazzling in its mixture of Romantic and Baroque elements before descending to the Ribeira area where we find the characteristic stone quays beautifully restored. Porto was well known among the Jewish traders during the Middle Ages and today its Jewish Quarter remains. You will see both “Rua Monte Judeus” and “Escadas da Esnoga” (which mean “Street of the Jewish Hill” and “Stairway to the Synagogue”) as well as a panoramic view of Dona Maria Bridge (designed by the famous Gustave Eiffel) and the picturesque Riverside area. Besides it historic aspects, Porto is also a contemporary and artistic city. This is visible everywhere, in the streets, architecture, art galleries and museums and also in the restaurants and boutiques the city has to offer.  Visit the Makor Haim Synagogue (“Source of Life”). With help from abroad in the early 20th Century, this was the first synagogue built in Portugal for native Portuguese Jews in over 400 years. Captain Barros Bastos also known as “Ben Rosh,” pushed the construction to assist the many Crypto-Jews returning to the open practice of Judaism. PortoBay Flores Hotel. (B)

Day 10 Wednesday Departure from Porto

Breakfast at the hotel. Private transfer to the airport. (B)


B = breakfast L= lunch Dinner = dinner



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