Until the XV century, the town was home to a notable Jewish community, which gave rise to such figures as the poet Yehudá Ha Leví, the philosopher Abraham Ibn Ezrá and the most celebrated of mediaeval travellers, Benjamin of Tudela. In the XII century, the town's Jewish quarter surpassed both the Estella and Pamplona quarters in terms of importance. Its inhabitants excelled in a range of trades, gaining great prestige as doctors to the Kings of Navarra.
THE VETULA JEWISH QUARTER
It would seem that the Jewish population
arrived in Tudela drawn by the political and economic power that the town acquired during the IX century, immediately following its foundation by the Muslims. The Jews created their own quarter near to the town's south wall, an area whose buildings still hark back to times of the Sephardim: tall, narrow, adobe or brick buildings with eaved façades. Three synagogues may have at one time existed in the quarter.
THE NEW JEWISH QUARTER
In 1170, King of Navarra Sancho VI the Wise, concerned for the safety of the Vetula community, decreed that it move to a new place of residence with its own cemetery within the walls of the Castle.
The population increase of the XIII and XIV centuries meant that the quarter
grew. After the Reconquest, the Muslims abandoned the town and took up residence
in a quarter beyond the town walls, thereby making a large part of Tudela
available to new Christian and Jewish settlers. The Jews were banished from
Navarra in 1498, the part of the town that they occupied remaining uninhabited
until modern times.