Besalú is a historic and picturesque village that is one of Catalonia’s best preserved villages. Located about an hour and a half north of Barcelona (half hour north of Girona), it is a perfect day trip for visitors who want to explore the historic region of Cataluña. Besalú is a quintessential Medieval village with a Romanesque arched bridge at the entrance to the Old Town, narrow cobblestone streets and charming houses built from brick and stone. The oldest remains found in town date back to 650-600 BC, and in Roman times it became a prosperous urban center in the region. Over a thousand years ago it was the capital of an important independent county.
Besalú was also an important Jewish settlement and is known for having a well preserved Jewish Quarter with a restored 12th C. mikveh (ritual purification bathhouse). In the 13th C. the Jewish community in Besalú accounted for a quarter of the population, and they lived in a relatively peaceful coexistence with the Christians until 1415. The baths were discovered in 1964 by chance and have been dated back to the 12th C. It is believed that the mikveh probably belonged to the synagogue located near the Plaça dels Jueus (Jew’s Square). Most of the synagogue is now gone, but the mikveh is surprisingly well preserved. It is one of only three Jewish bathhouses left in Europe.
Photo credit: Mikipons
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