Coimbra hopes to open Jewish baths to the public this year

Coimbra hopes to open Jewish baths to the public this year

This year, if possible, Coimbra City Hall hopes to open the public Jewish purification baths to the public. A source at City Hall informed that it has already hired a company to carry out the space’s musealization project.

“Municipal services are working hard to ensure that the ‘Mikveh’ [Jewish baths] open during the course of 2024”, said an official source at Coimbra City Hall, in a written response to questions from Agência Lusa.

At the start of the month, the municipality hired the company Byar to provide design, conception and production services regarding the musealization project of Coimbra’s Jewish purification baths. This procedure includes prior consultation, has a cost in the region of 60 thousand euros, and will be executed in the space of just under five months.

The company in question has prior experience in musealization, in particular using audiovisual aids and technology; it has worked on projects such as the Islamic Baths of Loulé, the Côa Museum, the Archaeology Museum of Elvas and Lagos Slave Market.

According to an official source at Coimbra City Hall, the services to be acquired from Byar are “paid in part by the ProMuseus’23 programme and will enable key information and technology to be added to aid in the interpretation and accessibility of this important structure”.

Additionally, it will also be necessary “to provide cleaning, conservation and restoration services” for the Jewish baths to ensure they open to the public, and in this regard an in-house procedure is “in progress”.

The Jewish baths will be managed by the Museology Division of Coimbra City Hall, with the cooperation of the Tourist Department “to structure and disseminate the city’s new tourist product”.

Questioned by Lusa about other investments to highlight the Jewish presence in the city, the municipality emphasises the existence of “significant heritage”, in particular “the limits of the Jewish quarters and the Coimbra Inquisition building, the only one in the country”. “New investments in this heritage” are expected, but it is still “too early” for them to be disclosed.

The ‘Mikveh’, located in Rua Visconde da Luz, in the Baixa, was discovered and identified in November 2013 in the basement of a building later acquired by the municipality in 2021. It is a complex consisting of an ante-room, the pool room and the mine room inside a limestone cave.

The complex underwent archaeological works to diagnose the ‘Mikveh’ but also the rest of the building, which is located within the Old Jewish Quarter of Coimbra.

Credit: Notícias de Coimbra