's medieval Jewish quarter, El Call
, was just to the south of Plaça Sant Felip Neri, centred on today's c/Sant Domènec del Call ( Call
is the Catalan word for a narrow passage). As elsewhere in Spain, Barcelona
's Jewish quarter lay nestled in the shadow of the cathedral - under the Church's careful scrutiny. In the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries some of the realm's greatest and most powerful administrators hailed from here, but reactionary trends sparked pogroms and led to the closing off of the community in these narrow, dark alleys. Nevertheless a prosperous settlement persisted until the pogrom and forced conversion of 1391 and exile of 1492. Today little except the street name survives as a reminder of the Jewish presence - after their expulsion most of the buildings used by the Jews were torn down and used for construction elsewhere in the city. A fact which the Catalan government does not eagerly publicize is that the Generalitat
itself was constructed on the ruins of expropriated Jewish houses. A plaque at c/Sant Domènec del Call 7 marks what may have been the site of the synagogue. For more tangible remains of the Jewish presence in medieval Catalunya you should head for Girona.
However, there are some reminders of the Jewish population in Barcelona: on the eastern side of Montjuïc (Jewish Mountain) was the Jewish cemetery and the castle at Montjuïc displays around thirty tombstones recovered from the cemetery in the early twentieth century, while many documentary records of medieval Jewish life survive in local archives. With the demise of the Franco regime, a small community was again established in Barcelona, and there is a synagogue in the city; see "Directory" for more details.