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Monday, May 20: Day 28 – Sephardi

Today we walked into the Jewish quarter of Segovia. It was first populated in 1215 when Giraldo, the bishop of the city, placed a ban on gambling between Jews and Christians in the parish of San Miguel right in the centre of the city. In 1481 the seven gates to this area were closed because of the segregation decree of the Spanish courts as part of the Spanish Inquisition.

The Spanish Inquisition was unique in that it was established by secular rulers, King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella, with the approval of Pope Sixtus IV. They asked the Pope to start the Inquisition to catch Jews who pretended to be Christians. In 1492 (yes, that year) they commanded all Jews and Muslims to leave Spain. Many left, but many stayed and said they were Christians. While some people were burned in front of crowds, most trials ended with the defendant giving up his beliefs and being let go. The Inquisition became less active in later years and was completely abolished in 1834.

The branch of the Jewish people in the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) is called Sephardi. We ate at Restaurante El Fogón Sefardi that blends Sephardi and Castilian foods. Sephardi cuisine emphasizes lamb, salads, stuffed vegetables and vine leaves, olive oil, and various dried fruits and nuts. Castilian food, on the other hand, features grilled or roasted meats, wines, sausages, cheeses and a variety of deserts. I don’t believe you can find this combination of cuisines anywhere else in the world.

Adios to Segovia. The combination of the massive cathedral, spectacular Alcazar, and towering aqueduct in a small walled city was amazing!

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