Rede de Judiarias de Portugal

Idanha - A - Nova

This large border city in Beira Baixa (1,400 km2) inherited the territory of several former municipalities extinct on the 19th century. In 1492, time of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, many refugees came to reinforce the local population.

Despite references to previous Jewish quarters existing in ancient towns like Monsanto, Medelim or Proenca-a-Velha, it is at the time of new-Christians that Idanha-A-Nova feels the impact of the presence of important crypto-Jewish centers.

However, should be noted the existence of the Jewry Street in Medelim as well as the characteristic balcony houses of this village.

In the times of the Inquisition, around 200 people linked to the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova were formally accused.

Samuel Nunes (Diogo Nunes Ribeiro) (1668-1744) doctor, native from this village, was one of the first Jews to live in North America.  He was Antonio Ribeiro Sanches’s uncle and had a dramatic escape from Lisbon to London in 1726, with his family, due to the persecution of the Inquisition.

As an example of the importance that the portuguese diaspora had, some American descendants of Dr. Samuel Nunes should be mentioned; the great-grandson Mordechai Manuel Noah, playwright, journalist and diplomat who became the first Jew born in the United States to achieve national notoriety; Commodore Uriah Phillips Levy, one of the senior members of the American navy during the Civil War.


Until the 15th century there is little information on the Jewish population resident in Idanha, there are only mentions of payment of taxes by Jews and the rents of Jewries of Monsanto, Proença-a-Velha and Salvaterra.

The proceedings of the Inquisition show us prosperous communities, where Christianity hid a clandestine Judaism. In 1631 more than 75 residents of Idanha-a-Nova, Monsanto, Proença-a-Velha, Medelim, Salvaterra e Segura were listed for the payment of interest under the General Pardon. Absolution and pardon rapidly turned into long-winded torture for everyone. Tensions and hatreds agitated the heart of the New Christians and denunciations threw entire families into prison and poverty. Many from Idanha-a-Nova attempted to remake their lives outside the country. Take, for example, the family of Diogo Nunes Ribeiro, doctor an New Christian, born in Idanha-a-Nova in 1668. Accused of Judaism, which he confessed under torture, he fled to London. He changed his name to Samuel. From there, he emigrated to America and came to be one of the founders of the city of Savannah, in Georgia. Diogo Nunes was the maternal uncle of another great character, Ribeiro Sanches, who became a doctor and great intellectual. Born in Penamacor, he was the son of Ana Nunes Ribeiro, from an Idanha’s wealthy New Christian merchants. Denounced, he managed to escape prison, spending the rest of his life in exile. He is a figure of great importance in Europe science and culture of the 18th century.




Centro Cultural Raiano

Raiano Cultural Center

Gabinete de Arqueologia

Avenida Joaquim Morão Lopes Dias

6060-713 Idanha-a-Nova

Telefone 277 202 900

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Seg a Sexta: 9h-13h/ 14h-17h

Monday to Friday: 9am- 1pm/ 2-5pm

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