Religious Tourism – Part 2, Jews

RELIGIOUS TOURISM – PART 2, JEWSPart 2. In my books on tourism potentials in the Algarve and the whole of Portugal, I mentioned religious tourism as something with great profit, to come. In book RESSURGIR, on my chapter about the FUTURE OF TOURISM, I repeated it.

FÁTIMA is the great attraction for Catholics all over the world. Guarda, Belmonte and Cabanas/Carregal do Sal could attract a half million tourists each year to regions that need that input. One Jewish operator, Avi, deals with 2million visitors per year and was astonished by the bureaucracy, trying to arrange a couple routes in Portugal.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes (1885-1954) was Portugal’s consul in Bordeaux when France was taken by the nazi. He disobeyed orders from dictator Salazar, and issued entry-visa to those who wished to leave. The Portuguese Schindler saved some 10 thousand Jews.

Salazar’s order was followed only 6 months later by another, stating that "under no circumstances" were visas to be issued without prior approval from Lisbon. However, Sousa Mendes was taken to task for granting a visa to Viennese Prof. Arnold Wimtzer. Mendes answered: "If unable to leave France that very day, he would be interned in a camp, leaving his wife and minor son stranded. I considered it a duty of elementary humanity to prevent it".

The majority of visas were issued after a three-day crisis of conscience in June/40, when he understood Portugal could stiffen the rules. Mendes offered a visa to his friend a rabbi, who responded, "I can't accept a visa for us and leave my people behind”. From his crisis, Mendes emerged, determined to obey what he called a divine power and grant visas to everyone in need. The Foundation Aristides Mendes kept his huge home in Cabanas.

The Jews who came to Portugal left mainly to the US and their grandchildren are now rich and run a Foundation there. A proper route starting or finishing Cabanas, passing Belmonte and Guarda, where another half-million cristãos-novos, Jews who fled inquisition, left historical valuable signs in streets and homes there. The Synagogues in both Porto and Lisbon are also unique. The Jewish cemetery in Faro has also unique signs.

The counties around may develop agriculture, industries as garments for souvenirs, tiles for construction of hotels, inns, etc. More good restaurants, the Philharmonic Cabanas, wine-cellars in Dão, dolmens, spa, the tasty dairies of Serra da Estrela, the nice small synagogue in Belmonte. The Jewish community would sponsor a Cultural Centre, as they do with the cemetery in Faro.


READ PART 1: Religious tourism - Catholics

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