JEWISH NEIGHBOURHOOD. MYTH OR REALITY?
Historians have documentary sources as writings of the time, books, letters or Archaeological Sites, to help us elucidate, what was there or where there was.
Many times, we trust in the different authors, whose legacy has come to us, although these were vitiated by the society that they had to live, and the pages of History have been written from their own perspectives.
We can not be satisfied with that, we have to investigate, look for different sources, and, in a subject such as the Jewish one, we have to contrast sources written by Christians, Muslims and Jews. And, according to my vision, try to reconcile all these positions.
GARNATHA AL-YAHUD IN SEFARAD
There were Jewish communities in Sefarad: Toledo, Gerona, Seville, Cordoba, Granada … Although, unfortunately we lack a documentary archive and what is even more complicated, archaeological.
In the case of Granada, a large part of the archives were lost in the Nazari period (1238-1492) and what is even more flagrant, following his expulsion in 1492.
Actually, we certainly do not know anything about its exact location and how many synagogues there were in the city. Another doubt is the name of Garnatha, when it was really given, and with what skill the Jews were able to establish that great similarity between the name of the city and the Latin name of the pomegranate fruit, “Punic Granatum”, “Garnatha” or Pomegranate. Thus the Garnatha al-Yahud or the Granada of the Jews was constituted.
The Jew, like the Muslim or Christian, seeks to legitimize their power and their ancestry, so they will try to unite their genealogies with the oldest ones linked to the family of David or the nobility of Jerusalem. So, this desire to legitimize, will lead to be named heirs of the Jewish primitive communities from the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 a.C. Although other authors think, they could come from the destruction of the Second Temple by the Emperor Tito in 70 AD.
In the fourth and subsequent centuries until the tenth century, it is a period that we have little information and it is a dark time in which, probably, Christians would cohabit with Jews. Surely they would do it in the same places, although there would be a gradual separation, due to Jewish rituals and life forms that tend to segregate.
We know with certainty that in the tenth century in Granada there was a Jewish urban settlement, as there was a vizier Samuel ibn Nagrella, who had the favor of the zirid kings of Granada, Habus and Badis. He reached the top, being a high position in the court of the time. Nagrella, wise, learned, clever politician, refined and cultured, knew how to win the favor of the sultans, and put on top his status as a Jew, at the service of the Muslim court.
But nothing is eternal, his death entailed the succession of his son, Yehosef and although cult like his father, he did not have his spirit and that led to plotting a plot to kill him. It generated an atmosphere of brutal violence that led to the pogrom of 1066, where many Jews died, difficult to quantify, although some authors speak of 3.000 people.
The arrival of the Almoravids in 1090 was another hard setback for the Jewish community that managed to survive, although, quite reduced. Fanatics and very orthodox, the Almoravids finished sinking this Jewish community. In spite of everything, we will have the Nazarí Kingdom, land of refuge for many Jews throughout the XIV and XV century.
We know that a Jewish minority will live in the Nazari Kingdom of Granada, dedicated to trade, crafts, and whose main activity was the silk trade, and more especially, making links between the Muslims of Granada and the Genoese merchants. It will be the last moment of splendor of the Jewish community in Spain.
On March 31, 1492, conquered the city of Granada, the Catholic Monarchs with the mediation of the Inquisitor Torquemada, will take the determination of the Jewish expulsion of all their kingdoms. The option of conversion or expulsion is given, and the Jews did not resist.
José Luis Lacave, indicates the possible extension of the Jewish Quarter. Although it has not been conserved, and there are few reliable data, it should not have been so big, nor be so numerous, as some travelers or writers have made us believe.
Jerónimo Münzer, left us his travel writings in 1494, indicating that, “King Fernando ordered the demolition of the place where some 20,000 Jews lived…”, right with its location in the area of the Realejo neighborhood, but, somewhat exaggerated in terms of number since other authors such as Ladero Quesada and López de Coca place around 1.300-1.500, which could be about 500 Jews in the capital.
If you want to know what the possible limits of the neighborhood were, how much it measured, where its synagogue was possibly and a thousand other things, do not hesitate to contract with us, the Visit of the Realejo.