Fodor's Expert Review Juderia
Adjacent to the Castelo de Belmonte, a cluster of old houses makes up the Juderia. Belmonte had (and, in fact, still has) one of Portugal's largest Jewish communities. Many present-day residents are descendants of the Marranos: Jews forced to convert to Christianity during the Inquisition. For centuries, many kept their faith, pretending to be Christians while practicing their true religion behind closed doors. Such was their fear of repression that Belmonte's secret Jews didn't emerge fully until the end of the 1970s. The community here remained without a synagogue until 1995. A small museum situated within a former 18th-century Catholic church includes a permanent exhibition about the Jewish period; it is also an important center for Jewish studies in Portugal.