August 17: As part of an ongoing annual summer project, work began once more on restoring the Jewish cemetery of Baiona. Reputedly the largest of its kind in the French Republic, the cemetery is home to graves dating back some four hundred years.
Although Jewish refugees from the Inquisition had already settled in Baiona in the late sixteenth century, it was not until a hundred years later that the Jewish community there established its own cemetery.
Besides that of Baiona, two other important Jewish cemeteries in the Northern Basque Country, both in Lower Navarre and both home to about 60 graves, are those of Bastida Arberoa (La Bastide-Clairence), with tombstones dating from 1610 to 1785 (information here), and Bidaxune (Bidache), which was also restored in 2013. Among the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the French Republic, these are both sites of major historical importance.