Mikveh and synagogue

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Photo of Mikveh and synagogue in Besalú

The mikveh (Jewish bath) was unexpectedly discovered in 1964, beginning with the upper section. It is the first building of this type to be found in Spain and the third in Europe. It is an underground room in the Romanesque style, built from hewn stone. It has a loophole window in the east wall, a barrel vault and a ritual cleansing pool that was filled naturally with water from a spring that is no longer there. Its function was the purification of the soul through the total immersion of the body. Jewish women would cleanse themselves before marriage, after childbirth and once a month after menstruation. Devout men would cleanse themselves every Friday before sunset, that is, before the start of the Sabbath. This building is situated where the ancient Jews' square was located and on the site of the old synagogue, for which there is documentary evidence dating back to 1264. Today part of the prayer room can be observed, along with the patio of the synagogue, where the Jews debated most of the issues that affected the community. Some 20 Jewish families lived in Besalú in mediaeval times until 1436 when they left the town once and for all.

Contact

Mikveh and synagogue
17850 Besalú (La Garrotxa)

Telephone: (+34) 972 591 240
E-mail:
Website: www.besalu.cat/cultura/patrimoni/

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