Our Douro kosher river cruises required a lot of advance research. As discufssed in our Day 4 Douro travel video, we had to drive through parts of Portugal to learn more about locales that we would be visiting. One of our Douro Cruise destinations was an inland municipality, called Belmonte. This is the home of the Crypto-Jews of Portugal..
The Remote Beauty of Belmonte
Belmonte is a relatively remote municipality, a high place far from the more urban spaces of Portugal. Surrounded by idyllic fields and hills, Belmonte looks like a slice of the world where time flows slowly, a town where the buildings feel timeless. It was the remoteness of the locale that allowed the Crypto-Jews to live and thrive throughout the years.
The Crypto-Jews of Belmonte
Hiding from the Inquisition and the forced conversion of the past, the Crypto-Jews of Belmonte remained isolated from the rest of the Jewish world until the first few decades of the 20th century. Nowadays, the Crypto-Jews of Belmonte practice their heritage openly, with their own Sukkah and Beit Eliyahu Synagogue. On our Jewish cruises through the Douro, we always make sure to visit the Jewish folk of Belmonte, reconnecting with a community that endured through the centuries.