Museum of Portuguese Jewish History

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Jewish Museum of Belmonte

The Jewish Museum of Belmonte was inaugurated on April 17, 2005, in a tiny town between Lisbon and Porto. Today the 2,500 inhabitants have been recognized by civic leaders, Ministers of Parliament, ambassadors and the Portuguese Prime Minister for the living memory of their Jewish traditions and the Portuguese heritage of woolen textiles they have maintained for hundreds of years.

The museum is located in an 18th century Catholic schoolhouse at the center of the oldest neighborhood, where many Jewish families still live in carefully preserved stone houses. The old school house was purchased by the city and transformed into a contemporary Jewish museum with a rich collection of objects once owned by crypto-Jewish families in the area. There are even Roman era coins from Jerusalem, and a tombstone from the same period bearing an engraved menorah.

  1. Museum Info:
    Rua da Portela, nº 4

  2. Phone: (+351) 275 088 698

  3. Email:

  4. Open Tuesday to Sunday

  5. (September 15 to 31 March) 9.30 to 13.00 and 14.00 to 17.30

  6. (April 1 to September 14) 9.00 to 12.30 and 14.00 to 18.00

  7. Closed: Mondays, May 1, 25 December and 1 January and Easter Sunday

The Faro Jewish Heritage Centre

Located in the Tahara house, originally used to wash and bless the deceased prior to burial, it now houses books, documents, photographs and other items relevant to the history of The Faro Jewish Heritage Centre. Furniture preserved from one of the two defunct 19th and 20th century Faro synagogues are on display and a copy of Gacon’s 1487 Pentateuch in Hebrew.

Local guide, Mr António Valente, has painstakingly researched the 170 year old Cemetery at Faro and located where the residents once lived and worked. In November of 2011 the first walking tour of the old Jewish city of Faro will take place, with an exploration of the Jews who arrived with the Romans and those who returned to Faro in the 19th century.

The DVD "Without the Past" is a moving documentary about the restoration of the historic Faro Jewish Cemetery. The video, narrated by Isaac Bitton, is the recipient of the Telly Award for documentaries. You can view the documentary at:

  1. Museum Info:

  2. US Phone: (+001) 815 338 1486
    PT Phone: (+351) 289 829 525

  3. Email:
    Tours are provided in English, Portuguese, or French

The Abraham Zacuto Luso - Museo Hebraico de Tomar

Tomar is a small historic village 145 kilometers north of Lisbon, once a place of refuge for the Knights Templar. The remains of their fortress and a monastery are still intact and open as a museum.

However, buried away in one of the narrow streets of the old Jewish quarter rests the oldest existing synagogue in Portugal, built in 1438. After the forced conversions that followed in 1496; the synagogue was used as a prison, a church, a hay loft and finally a warehouse. In 1921 the building was declared a national monument and in 1939 the owner, Samuel Schwartz donated it to the state for use as a museum. A mikveh was discovered next door during excavations of the outbuilding in 1985.

The museum is named after Abraham Zacuto a Jewish Rabbi and scientist who became court astronomer in Portugal after fleeing Spain in 1492. His astronomical almanac was instrumental to the Portuguese and other European explorers during the age of discovery. The museum holds a small collection of Judaica, most of which has been donated from countries around the world. There are works of art, architectural fragments from local buildings, including an inscribed stone from 1307 from the Great Synagogue of Lisbon, and a 13th-century inscribed stone from the medieval synagogue in Belmonte.

  1. Museum Info:

  2. Rua Dr. Joaquim Jacinto, Tomar, Santarem 2300, Portugal

  3. Coordinates: 39.60327° N, 8.414272° W

  4. Phone: (+351) 249 322 427

  5. Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 18:00

  6. Free: Donations gladly accepted

Shahak Hasamain Synagogue Museum of Ponta Delgada, São Miguel

Built in 1836, the synagogue was the first to be constructed in Portugal after the installation of a constitutional monarchy which began reversing discriminatory policies launched by the Inquisition in the 16th century. The synagogue was built by Jews returning to Portugal from North Africa, where their ancestors sought refuge on being expelled from Portugal and Spain during the Inquisition.

In 2010 the Ponta Delgada City Hall agreed to revamp the dilapidated building, maintaining it as a place of worship, with the city gaining a 99-year concession over the property in exchange for funding its renovation. We are currently awaiting additional details regarding the opening of the museum.

For an amazing story relating to the area, read: “The Adventures and Misfortunes of a Sefer Torah in the Azores”

  1. Museum Info:

  2. Rua do Brum, 16, Sao Miguel

  3. Travel Information Department i Lisbon

  4. Av. 5 de Outubro, 101

  5. 1000 Lisboa, Portugal

  6. Tel.:  (+351) 793 01 03

  7. Fax:  (+351) 352 57 79

Jewish Museum of Porto

This innovative site offers visitors the possibility of creating their own itinerary, using an Interactive map they have designed a few routes that will unveil the history of the Jews in Porto in the different parts of the city and throughout time. Their suggestions are independent routes and you do not need to do them sequentially. However, they do cover the timeline of the Jewish history of Porto.

The Virtual Museum of Aristides de Sousa Mendes

A website dedicated to preserving the memory and documenting the history of a Portuguese diplomat in Bordeaux, France, during World War II. Aristides de Sousa Mendes ignored and defied the orders of the President Salazar for the safety of refugees fleeing the invading German military forces. Between June 16 and June 23, 1940, he frantically issued Portuguese visas free of charge, to over 30,000 refugees 12,000 of whom were Jews.

Jewish Museum of Covilhã (coming soon)

Please check back.-

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