Museu Luso-Hebraico Abraham Zacuto


On a charming cobbled lane in the old town, you’ll find the country’s best-preserved medieval synagogue. Built between 1430 and 1460, it was used for only a few years before Dom Manuel’s convert-or-leave edict of 1497 forced most Jews to do the latter. The synagogue subsequently served as prison, chapel, hayloft and warehouse until classified as a national monument in 1921.

Mostly thanks to the efforts of Luís Vasco (often present), the small building has been remodelled to look something like it would have in the 15th century. It’s named after the Jewish mathematician and royal astrologer who helped Vasco da Gama plan his voyages. Inside, among various stones engraved with 13th- and 14th-century Hebraic inscriptions, is a rose-coloured limestone block from the Great Synagogue of Lisbon, dating from 1307. An excellent personal explanation from the person on duty brings this place and its history to life.

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