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The Jewish quarter of Puente Castro

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The Jewish quarter of Puente Castro


Basic Information

Location Leon, Spain
Country Spain
City Leon
Address Leon, Spain

General Information

Open to visitors no
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Geographical Coordinates 42.5888,-5.5478


The Jewish quarter of Puente Castro was the oldest and most important in the city of León. Known by the place name of Castrum Iudeorum, its first Jewish inhabitants must have settled here in the 10th century and the maximum expansion of the Jewish quarter must have been between the late 11th century and the early 12th century. Although León and Puente Castro were separated by a certain distance and by the River Torío, they formed a complementary unit. Self-evidently, the city of León was the capital of the kingdom of the same name whilst Castrum Iudeorum was of all the Jewish quarters of this territory.

The settlement was on the south slope of the Mota hill and it ended in a hill-fort with a fort; a small, defensive fortification. This medieval hill-fort was built in another Roman one which, in turn, must almost certainly have been erected on one of Asturian origin.

The excavations in the La Candamia area in the Jewish enclave of the Hill-fort in the heights of the Mota have allowed the reconstruction of the layout of the two-metre wide clay and adobe wall which surrounded the settlement before 1196. On July 23rd the Jews were attacked by the followers of Alfonso VIII of Castile and Pedro II of Aragón and they put up brave resistance until 25th when the fortress was taken and the Jewish quarter was sacked. On July 27th those Jews who hadn´t taken flight ort died were enslaved.

Once the aljama of Puente Castro had been destroyed, the Jewish population settled in León in the district inside the walls of Santa Ana. And in the city of León the Jews prospered between the 13th and 15th centuries in the fields of commerce, craftsmanship and even agriculture until the late 13th century, but their population never became as large or important again. The destruction of Castro de los Judios was so complete that it was virtually uninhabited until the 15th century.

The archaeological site allows us to find out some aspects of how the Jewish communities lived from the 11th to the 12th centuries. These aspects would be hard to document anywhere else in the Iberian Peninsula. What´s more, it is a settlement which can easily be excavated in its entirety as it is almost wholly free of more modern houses or other obstacles. Castro Iudeorum, in this regard, can be classed as unicum as regards its integrity and study possibilities.

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