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.

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Plaque dedicated to the Jewish cemetery of Baiona. Photo by D. Villafruela, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

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General view of the eighteenth-century section in the Jewish cemetery of Baiona. Photo by Daniel Villafruela, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

There is a brief report (in French) on the current restoration project for the Baiona cemetery here and a video report (in French) on the work undertaken there in 2014 here.