The marks in Trancoso houses

The medieval town of Trancoso is strongly influenced by its ancient Jewish presence.

The medieval town of Trancoso is strongly influenced by its ancient Jewish presence. This community had an extraordinary economic and social growth throughout the Middle Ages which was driven by the Trancoso fair. During the 15th century, the Jewish population in this raiana town was of over 500 people, which led the community to settle outside the Jewry limits. Nowadays, Trancoso’s ancient streets still take you to an age when Hebrew habits were celebrated in Beira lands.

It is still possible to see Jewish marks like crosses, David stars and Hebrew words at the doorposts. Starting from El Rei Doors, you can stroll through the Corredoura and São João streets on your way to the Jewry where you will find houses with New Christian marks. At Estrela Street, there is a Hebrew “D’us” engraved in a lintel, and at Bandarra Street you will be able to see a lampstand mark. At Largo Luís de Albuquerque, you will find the most majestic Jewish house in town, the Casa do Gato Preto (Black Cat House). Here, the embossed Lion of Judah and the Jerusalem Doora indicate that this was the house of a rabbi (and possible the synagogue of the community). You can then proceed to the Alegria and Mercadores streets which hide religious marks, or you can choose Cavaleiros Street where a six pointed star indicates us that people from the nation lived here. You can finish your visit in the house of D. Dinis Square where, during the 1980s, a roll containing the Shema Yisrael prayer was discovered, hidden inside a wall.

At the end of your tour, you can make a quick visit to the Isaac Cardoso Jewish Culture Interpretation Centre. Founded in 2012, the goal of this space, designed by architect Gonçalo Byrne where the modern Beit Mayim (the Well of Living Water) synagogue stands out, is to be a place for culture and debate by teaching about the ancient legacy Beira Jewish communities have left behind.

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