Sinagoga (Synagogue) - Roman Jewish Ghetto

"Sinagoga (Synagogue) - Roman Jewish Ghetto" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Sunday 26th June 2011

This imposing construction in Babylonian- Syrian style with its square dome is a dissonant element in panoramic view of the city, and was built in 1897-1904 by architects Asvaldo Armanni and Vincenzo Costa, decorations are by painters D.Bruschi and A.Brugnoli. Modern synagogue substituted an old Jewish Temple destroyed in 1893 and other four places of cult called Scole (Scola Siciliana, Scola Castigliana, Scola Nova, and most remarkable from architectonic point of view Scola Catalana, which was built by G.Rainaldi in 1628 and was rich of marbles (its marble seats are now located in modern Synagogue)) located in a single construction, because the authorities didn't permit to built more than one synagogue. These were not only the places of praying, but also the centers of education and meeting places.

Sinagoga (Synagogue) - Roman Jewish Ghetto, Rome
The Great Synagogue (Tempio Maggiore) of Rome presents a modern facade with three entrances to the porch, bearing Jewish symbols such as the seven-branched candelabrum, the Decalogue, the Star of David and the palm branch. The building houses a permanent exhibition of the Jewish community of Rome with archaeological finds, prints, religious objects, silver and liturgical vestments.

On the wall facing the Tiber big memorial tablets remind about martyrology of Roman Jews in Nazist concentration camps and in Fosse Ardeatine. The Sinagoga is divided in major synagogue where they follow the Roman rite, and minor synagogue, with Iberian rite.
inside interior of the Sinagoga (Synagogue).jpg
This building also conserves a Museum of Jewish community in Rome rich with silver religious tools, manuscripts and documents regarding the history of Jews in Rome (the entrance is from Lungotevere). The construction also hosts some departments of the community administration.

Today, many Jews still live here and it is possible to visit some shops selling typical Roman kosher food. On the Lungotevere is the Synagogue, built in 1874. The façade, with three entrances in the portico, bears Jewish symbols such as the seven-branched candlestick, the tablets of the law, the star of David and the palm-tree branch. The building also houses a permanent exhibition of Rome’s Jewish community with archaeological artefacts, prints, religious objects, liturgical silverware and religious robes.

Jewish Ghetto

The word "Ghetto" [See footnote at the bottom of the page] comes from Venice and perhaps comes from the place of concentration of Jews around foundry which was also called "getto" of the island Isola della Giudecca. The first news about Jewish colony in Rome were documented in the 2nd century b.C.. With the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem happened in 70 a.C., the local community increased due to arrival of the Jews brought to Rome as the slaves of the emperors Flavius'. In Rome, as anywhere else, the Jews were always living in united community on a limited territory (in ancient times they were living in Trastevere, and in the end of XIII century they moved on the opposite side of Tiber, where built the Synagogue of Quattro Capi). In this zone named Rione S.Angelo close to Isola Tiberina (the island in the Tiber), quite animated because of trade, the Jews came in the 12-13th centuries.
Jewish Ghetto.jpg
The definite fixation of exclusively Jewish residence and place of their modest activities allowed by the Roman governors was determined in a bull of Paul IV Cumnimis absurdum on July 12, 1555 which prescribed construction of walls and exchange of population, the entrance there was allowed only to those who had a special permission and closed to anybody during the night time. Inside of the walls had to live all the Jews of the city; the Jews living on the territory of the Pontific state had to chose or to transfer to the Ghetto of Rome or to the one of Ancona. So inside of a city part limited by modern Piazza delle Cinque Scole, Via di Portico d'Ottavia and Lungotevere de'Cenci, the Jews of different origins were concentrated. (In indicated zone the Jewish people were representing 4/5 of the inhabitants and inside of the walls remained different churches, later destroyed and a palazzo dei Boccapaduli).
 Roman Jewish Ghetto, Rome
Sixtus V amplified Ghetto in the river zone and its territory reached the size of three hectares (300 ares, 7.4 acres). In the middle of the 17th century here were living circa six thousand of Jews, and in the beginning of the 19th century eight thousand.

Closed on a limited piece of land the Jews were forced to lead only modest activities.

The Ghetto was opened for the first time in 1799 (Jacobine Republic) and then in 1848. Its walls were definitely destroyed on April 17, 1848. After 1870 the talks about demolition of Ghetto began and it was done starting from 1888 having as an excuse to it the epidemics of cholera of 1886 which caused only 500 deaths in Rome, and the Ghetto because of its overcrowded population was often the place from where different epidemics and plagues took their beginning. The Jewish community agreed with this decision. Reconstruction of this part of the city after the Ghetto was burnt was quite simple and didn't take in consideration the particularity of this zone.

The Jewish population of Rome is still quite attached to this zone and some of the restaurants here serve particular dishes from Jewish cuisine. Here on October 16 of 1943 took place a systematic combing of Nazis who sent 2091 Jews in extermination camps.

Sinagoga (Synagogue) - Roman Jewish Ghetto
Lungotevere de' Cenci
00186, Ghetto, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Regola (Campo de' Fiori-Piazza Farnese) (Roma centro)
Sinagoga (Synagogue) - Roman Jewish Ghetto is Shown By "Map J Zone" As "1"
Hours: Sunday - Thursday: 10.00 am - 4.00 pm; Friday: 9.00 am - 1.15 pm; Closed: Saturday. Guided tours depart every half hour, at 15' in English and 45' in Italian.
Telephone: +39 06 68400661
Fax: +39 06 68400684

More Information about Sinagoga (Synagogue), Roman Jewish Ghetto:


Synagogues (all synagogues are Orthodox Christian Church)

Jewish Museum of Rome

, Lungotevere Cenci (Temple), tel. +39 0668400661 - Fax +39 0668400639, website:;
Closed: Saturday, Jewish holidays, January 1, August 15; The ticket includes admission to the museum and a guided tour of the Great Synagogue and Spanish Synagogue. For further information, please contact Mrs. Daniela Calò, tel. +39 0668400661.
Private tours of the Jewish district, please contact: Roy Doliner, tel. +39 3398840529; Micaela Pavoncello, tel. +39 3288638128; Massimo Sciunnache (Ass. 5 Scole), tel. +39 3288976222; Laura Supino, tel. +39 3472120954.

A ghetto is a section of a city occupied by a group who live there especially because of social, economic, or legal pressure. The term ghetto was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. A ghetto is now described as an overcrowded urban area often associated with a specific ethnic or racial population.

The Roman (Jewish) Ghetto (Italian: Ghetto di Roma) was a ghetto located in the rione Sant'Angelo, in Rome, Italy, in the area surrounded by today's Via del Portico d'Ottavia, Lungotevere dei Cenci, Via del Progresso and Via di Santa Maria del Pianto close to the Tiber and the Theater of Marcellus. In Italian, the ghetto was called "Serraglio delli Ebrei" ("Enclosure of the Jews"). Jew people in Rome represent a very little part of the population, but at the same time their millenary presence (Titus Arch testifies the Jew deportation in Roman age) contributed markedly to the development of Rome and left a sign even in Roman traditions.

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