top of page
BACKGROUND ilana lamstein.webp



ilana lamstein book about holocaust in uruguay 2.png

Casa Sefarad and the voice of the ladino

As you wander through the alleyways of Córdoba's Jewish neighborhood, its enchantment transports you to another dimension. Sometimes, it transforms into a labyrinth with no apparent exits, and the energy of the place envelops you. It's a space filled with mixed emotions, evoking a complex and captivating past, all at once.

On Judíos Street, within a 14th-century house that once belonged to a Jewish family, you'll find La Casa Sefarad. This museum houses a wealth of captivating materials that shed light on the culture, history, and traditions of Sephardic Jews. It's a space where the poignant and joyful facets of Jewish history in the Iberian Peninsula are vividly displayed before our eyes.

During my visit, I had the privilege of listening to popular Sephardic melodies in Ladino*. Here, I'd like to share this sweet music that encapsulates the essence of its people and their customs.

* Ladino, the language of Sephardic Jews, whose origins are linked to the translation of sacred texts from Hebrew into old Spanish or Romance

A Brief History...

(Source: Caminos de Sefarad, "Routes through the Jewish Quarters of Spain")

The presence of Jews in Córdoba is believed to date back to around 169 BC when they arrived during the Roman foundation. After the Muslim conquest, Córdoba became the capital of an independent emirate under Abderramán I, and later, in 929, under Abderramán III. It reached its zenith during the rule of Al Hakam II between 961 and 976.

However, after Al Hakam II's death, disputes over political succession arose. Hissam II, his heir, was pitted against Almanzor, who ruled as a dictator from 981, with Hissam holding nominal power. Almanzor retained control for two decades until 1002 when he handed it over to his son, Abd al-Málik. Unfortunately, upon Abd al-Málik's death, the situation further deteriorated, leading to a civil war that erupted in 1009.

During the hostilities, one of the initial contenders for the caliphate, the Berber king Suleiman, launched an attack on Córdoba. The city was plundered, with the Jewish quarter suffering severe devastation as houses and businesses were set ablaze. Consequently, numerous families fell into hardship, prompting an initial wave of Sephardic Jews to embark on a path of exile.

Only a smaller community remained, which, in addition, had to confront Almoravid rule a few decades later, starting in the year 1091. This rule enforced stricter religious adherence to Islam, and these restrictions became even more severe with the advent of the Almohads in the mid-12th century.

Following the Christian conquest of Córdoba by Ferdinand III the Saint in 1236, the city's Jewish community retained a portion of its former influence. This king issued a charter that granted equal treatment to Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Coexistence between Jews and Christians remained harmonious until the late 13th century, when it began to deteriorate due to the proliferation of anti-Jewish propaganda and the radicalization of Christian religious figures. The establishment of the Inquisition, under the reign of the Catholic Monarchs towards the end of the 15th century, initiated the relentless persecution of Jewish converts suspected of secretly practicing Judaism. The objective was to establish a strong and centralized state devoid of minorities or dissidents.

In 1473, the city of Córdoba bore witness to the persecution of Jewish converts suspected of maintaining their Jewish faith privately, derogatorily labeled as "marranos." This echoed earlier incidents in other European kingdoms like England. In 1492, the Catholic Monarchs decreed the expulsion of the Jews, giving them a four-month window to depart the country if they declined conversion to Christianity.


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page