The city of Granada in southern Spain has announced the opening of a museum dedicated to the culture of Sephardic Jews who used to live there before the Inquisition. The museum, which is called The Palace of the Forgotten, is housed inside the Santa Ines Palace located in Albaicin—a neighborhood in the city’s old center where many Jews lived before 1492.
Historians’ estimates of the size of the Jewish population of Andalucia, the region where Granada is located, ranged from 5,000 to 20,000. Today, only a handful of Jews live in Andalucia.
The museum contains Judaica artifacts, archeological findings such as ceramic utensils, furniture, artwork and other valuables recovered from Jewish homes. The artifacts were donated to the museum.
The museum will feature the restoration of a mikvah from before the 15th century, which is among the few well-preserved mikvahs from that period ever excavated in Spain.
In recent years, Spanish and Portuguese municipalities have invested millions of dollars in preserving their Sephardic heritage. This includes the inauguration and elaboration of a network of Jewish sites, financing for Jewish study centers and the opening of several museums. These efforts have the potential to draw visitors from Israel and North America, while politicians and activists often describe these actions as owing to an emotional attachment and moral debt.
Spain’s ruling party recently submitted a bill which would make Jewish descendants of Sephardic Jews who were forced into exile eligible for Spanish citizenship. Portugal’s parliament unanimously passed a similar law in April.