Judizmendi public garden
Avda. de Judizmendi, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
The town of Vitoria had 300 Jews in 1290 and 900 on the eve of the expulsion – the equivalent of 6 or 7% of the total population.
Their main activities were tax collecting and medicine. In 1492, they took refuge in Bayonne across the French border, where, even today, the Jews think of themselves as the descendants of those in Vitoria.
The most surprising vestige of the Jewish presence is the old cemetery, or Judizmendi (Jews’ Mountain). On June 27, 1492, the town council signed an agreement with the community, undertaking to respect and maintain the cemetery.
This accord was observed until 1952, when the town government obtained authorization from the Jewish community in Bayonne to transform it into a public garden. A monolith recalls this unusual piece of history.
Originally published on JGuideEurope
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This park was once a Jewish cemetery. When the Jews were expelled from Spain. The citizens of Vitoria-Gasteiz made an agreement with the Jews that the cemetery would be respected and nothing would be built upon the land. The Citizens kept their word for over 500 years. In 1952, the descendants of the Jews who were expelled, and sought refuse in Bayonne France, returned to release the City of Vitoria-Gasteiz from its promise. The City continued to keep its promise. In 2004 a monument “Coexistence” was placed in the park and in Spanish, Basque and Hebrew is inscribed “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more…” Isaiah 2-4.
Vitoria (called Gasteiz in Basque) but often referred to with both names at once, is the seat of government and the capital city of the Basque Country and of the province of Álava in northern Spain. With beautiful medieval architecture and a twisty winding old town, Vitoria is a pleasure to roam about in. Lauded as a Green Capital of Europe, it has a belt of parks around it as well and is not far from mountains or sea. It is a multicultural city, ranked as one of the five best places to live in Spain, it also ranked first for cultural places per capita. It has a lively atmosphere year round with the tradition of fantastic and plentiful pintxo bars, and fine gastronomy. It is quite simply one of the most delightful cities in all of Europe.