For more than 15 centuries, the Jews were an inextricable part of Spanish culture. Jewish poets, rabbis and philosophers contributed to the intellectual discourse of the Middle Ages. That ended in 1492 when the Jews had to choose between conversion, death or exile at the direction of Queen Isabella and the Inquisition. In 1992, as Spain celebrated the 500th anniversary of Columbus's voyage, King Juan Carlos issued a royal decree of atonement, formally canceling the 500-year-old Edict of Expulsion.
Today, eight towns, including Toledo, Córdoba, Segovia, Hervás and Girona (whose magnificently restored Isaac el Sec Center is one of the few remaining compounds of the Jewish era), have created the Caminos de Sepharad to promote interest in Judeo-Spanish history.
Córdoba's cobbled streets are much as they were when the great thinker Maimonides walked them as a young man. You'll find the labyrinthine ancient Jewish quarter just northwest of the vast mosque (and cathedral) that lies at Córdoba's heart.
Granada's medieval Jewish community included Shmuel ha Nagid, vizier of the kingdom of Granada, most powerful Spanish Jew of the Middle Ages. In Toledo, known in medieval times as the "second Jerusalem," there are no fewer than 10 synagogues, including the splendid El Transito, whose alabaster columns and graceful arches date from the 14th century.