It is located in the highest area of the southern part of Calahorra, called Rasillo de San Francisco. Here was located the ancient citadel or acropolis and the Castle and was the most important defensive site of the city from the time of the Roman Empire until the late Middle Ages, in which this urban space had already lost its former strategic value. In the acropolis of the ancient Roman city was located an important Jewish community, of which there are documented references from the end of the eleventh century, reaching its greatest boom in the fifteenth century.
The Calagurritan aljama, where the poet and theologian Abraham Ibn Ezra lived the last stage of his life, was the largest in La Rioja and had an important agricultural, commercial, craft and scientific activity throughout the Middle Ages. The Synagogue must have been located between the Church of San Francisco, the old church of San Salvador, and Deán Palacios Street. When Henry II of Trastamara occupied Calahorra and was proclaimed king in the same city, part of that Jewish community fled to the kingdom of Navarre for fear of reprisals. In 1.492 the Catholic Kings sign the decree of expulsion of all the Jews and according to the letter granted in Ágreda, they donate the synagogue to the Cathedral Church of Calahorra. The town council then transformed this building into a hermitage dedicated to San Sebastian. When years later, around 1,579, the cathedral chapter ceded the church of San Salvador to the religious order of the Franciscans, they reformed it and changed its name to San Francisco and in order to enlarge it with a cloister, they also ceded the hermitage of San Sebastián, that is to say, the building of the old synagogue, which was demolished.
Attached to the temple was the convent of the same name, by the Disentailment, in the year 1835, the building was dedicated to prison, court, schools and high school, thus beginning its deterioration, until it was destroyed in 1921 for endangering the surroundings because its ruin was imminent. To the right of the temple there is a reconstructed building, which is a pilgrims' hostel of the Jacobean Way of the Ebro, and two annexed cultural rooms.
In the area you can admire the town-planning complex of the Jewish quarter, a sixteenth-century three-storey house, the Deán Palacios Cultural Centre, which currently houses the municipal areas of Education, Culture, Youth and Celebrations, the Museum of the Vegetable, the parish of San Andrés, the Romanisation Museum and, from a beautiful viewpoint-terrace, belonging to a private building, you can contemplate the Arrabal, the Cathedral, the Sanctuary of Carmen or the fertile plain of Cidacos. The surrounding houses were built in the sixteenth century for the dwellings of the canons of the Cathedral.
The temple of San Francisco, today without worship, is the permanent Exhibition Centre of Holy Week Steps and miniature representation of the Life of Christ, 14 of the steps that are processioned in Holy Week, its construction was carried out between the years 1.626 and 1.644, is baroque style with a single nave of four sections and Tuscan pilasters, in the center of the Main Altarpiece there is an image of Christ the Saviour of the world and in its upper part, the relief, presents St. Francis of Assisi with the wounds of Christ.
Calahorra's Holy Week has ceased to be a Festival of Regional Tourist Interest to become a Festival of National Tourist Interest. The Holy Week of the bimillenary city of Calahorra, with twenty processional steps, some of them from the XVI century, combines religious and cultural values. Christian tradition rooted in time and fostered especially by the Brotherhood of the Vera Cruz, and the Cultural Association Group "Paso Viviente", along with the Roman essence of the ancient Calagurris sustained by a great citizen participation.
The main access roads to Calahorra are the AP-68, the N-232 that connects Calahorra with Logroño and Zaragoza, next to the LR-134 that connects it with nearby towns such as Arnedo or San Adrián. It has an intercity bus service, with a daily service from Monday to Friday, and a regular bus service from Logroño to Zaragoza and from Calahorra to Soria.
The church of San Francisco is located in the highest area of the southern part of Calahorra, which we can reach by ascending some of the alleys that run the short distance that separates it from the cathedral of Santa Maria.
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