The first records of the Jewish presence in Portugal date back to the 5th century when the country was under the domination of the Visigoths. Visitors coming to Portugal in search of this past will find themselves in a country that is not only full of sunlight, but one that also provides them with easy access to a culture which is clearly influenced by the works of the great Jewish philosophers, writers and scientists who lived there.
In their Diaspora, these men and women, who until 1496 (the year of the order for their expulsion decreed by Dom Manuel I) had enjoyed the protection of the Portuguese monarchs and helped take the Portuguese language to the four comers of the world. The epic heroism of the Portuguese discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries owes a great deal to the scientific and financial contributions of the Jewish community. By virtue of their great vocation for commerce, and through a network of trading posts in which they played a leading role, this community helped introduce Europe to the exotic produce unshipped by the navigators at the port of Lisbon.
Even in contemporary Portugal, many Jews were to pass through this very same city, fleeing from the persecutions to which they were subjected during the Second World War, before setting forth to yet other locations.
Once a point of departure for many Jews, Portugal is now a point of arrival where Jews can reencounter their ancient roots.Journey to Jewish PortugalPortuguese National Tourist Office