We met in the lobby where Sarah got teary as the reality hit that, of their 180-day trip, there were just two left.
We departed before 9:30, stopping at a spot on the river with a view of Porto’s iron bridge where Sarah and Eitan shot one of their dancing videos. We continued on for 2¾ hours to Castelo de Vide, with ¾ of the people in the car sleeping most of the way.
Castelo de Vide was a winner. This was a fantastic hill town with basically no Americans and few tourists. We put our names in at a popular restaurant and walked up to the castle, then toured the medieval town outside the castle walls, which felt amazingly authentic and stuck-in-time.
The pretty town of Castelo de Vide is of Roman origin, and nearby are the ruins of the Roman settlement of Miróbriga. Many Roman artifacts have been found there (most of them now in Lisbon’s museums), but it’s the sizable Jewish presence in the Middle Ages that the town is now known for.
Inside the castle was a small torture devices exposition. Some of those gave Sarah some great ideas for when Eitan is not behaving.
We climbed to the top where we enjoyed a very nice view of the city.
We returned to the restaurant, where the only other Americans were a couple with some friends, the husband of whom had worked in the foreign service and they loved the area so much they had bought a place to live.
There is an atmospheric medieval Judiaria, or Jewish Quarter, where time seems to have stood still, with cobbled streets and whitewashed houses (most of them with Gothic doorways and potted plants on the doorsteps).
Here is also the oldest synagogue in the country, although all that remains is one modest little room. Based on what Elly and Dan had learned on their earlier trip to Spain, we knew that this may or not have actually been a synagogue before the Jews were expelled 500 years ago. There were other rooms and displays from half-a-millennium ago, which unfortunately were all in Portuguese, though it was all very nicely presented.
The edict from 1492, promulgated by the Catholic Kings, Fernando and Isabel, caused a massive displacement of Jewish families seeking, on this side of the border, the peace that the prophecies denied them in a strange land.
The Jewish presence in Elvas is known since the Muslim ages (714-1230). The Ancient Jewish Quarter is formed during this period, a first neighborhood including the place known today as República Square, until 1511 was a group of streets and alleyways. As this community grows, in the middle of the XIXth century they need to build a new Jewish Quarter, closer to the castle.
We walked through more of the town in the blazing 100-degree heat (we weren’t on the coast anymore).
There were no many other sights to see here, but walking around this beautiful town was lovely.