Though there is a long history of Jews in Valencia, dating back over 1000 years (at the time of the reconquest of Valencia from the Muslims in 1238 A.D. there were about 2000 Jews living here), very few remains exist here that show this long relationship. On July 9th, 1391 a large group of youths attacked the Jewish Quarter (see maps) and killed over 250 people, ransacking their homes and raping the women of each household. Though over 90 people were eventually arrested this event essentially ended the Jewish presence in Valencia, with the exception of visiting businessmen. The land where the main synagogue of Valencia once stood became reconsecrated as the Church of San Cristobal (on Calle Poeta Bodria) just a few years after the attacks. The Jewish cemetery now is the location, incredibly, of Valencia’s largest department store (see picture below) El Corte de Ingles.
The Jewish community didn’t re-emerge here until the 1970’s.
The area where the Jewish quarter once was has only intriguing echos of its Jewish history. The Calle de los Gallinas (Chicken Street) is where the old Jewish kosher market used to be….but now it’s a dead end. Calle Luis Vives is named after the famed theologian whose family was killed for refusing to convert to Christianity and who later fled to Belgium.
The Jewish Quarter of Valencia is most understood by the violence of its absence. In the centre of the Jewish Quarter is a large modern residential complex dating from the 1960’s. No effort was made during that time to document the archaeological remains that no doubt were unearthed beneath it during its construction. It is notably the largest modern residential complex within the old city. This is an indication of the relative limbo the area was thrust into after the removal of the Jewish community, especially after the expulsion of 1492.
A walk around the former Jewish Quarter (centred around Calle del Mar) is certainly evocative and astonishing in its own way. If you are interested, I can give you a tour (please see my tour page for this service and contact me using the ‘contact me’ tab of this website)
further resources about Jewish History in Valencia can be found here: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14628-valencia