Capital of the Portuguese province of Entre-Douro-e-Minho. After Lisbon it possessed in former times the largest Jewish congregation of the country, and it was the seat of the provincial rabbi or chief judge. As every where else, the Jews of Porto lived in their "Juderia." By command of King John I., Victoria and S. Miguel streets, near the present location of the Benedictine convent, were assigned to them for residence in 1386. In the latter street was the synagogue, which Immanuel Aboab records that he saw; and the stairs which lead from Belmonte to the old Juderia are still known as the "Escadas de Esnoga" (="synagogue steps").
Although the Porto city council opposed the admission of Jewish refugees from Spain, apparently on hygienic grounds (1487), Porto was allotted as the place and S. Miguel as the street of residence to thirty Spanish Jewish families which, through the aged Rabbi Isaac Aboab, negotiated with King John II. for permission to settle in Portugal in 1491. The house of each of these immigrants was marked with the letter "P," the initial of the name of the city.
The Porto Jews paid to the city a yearly tax of 200 old maravedis, or 5,400 sueldos, for the square in which the synagogue stood; and even shortly before the expulsion they had to pay an annual tax of 10,000 reis. Many of them left the city after the edict of expulsion; but some remained behind as secret Jews. The tribunal of the Inquisition was introduded into Porto in 1543 (see
Isaac Aboab died at Porto in 1493; and here were born Immanuel Aboab, author of "Nomologia"; Uriel or Gabriel da Costa, the physician Diego Joseph, Abraham Ferrar, etc. At present (1905) Jews are again living in Porto.
- Aboab, Nomologia o Discursos Legales, p. 299;
- Kayserling, Gesch. der Juden in Portugal, pp. 13, 49, 108 et seq.;
- J. Mendes dos Remedios, Os Judcos em Portugal, pp.261, 360 et seq.