The presence of the Jewish community in Florence is reported since Roman times. This community lived in an area near the Ponte Vecchio, on the south side of the river, outside the city walls.
In 1571 Cosimo I de’Medici, while encouraging the presence of the Jews in the city, asked the architect Bernardo Buontalenti to turn the area close to the old market (now Piazza della Repubblica) in a ghetto. The ghetto was opened only in 1848, but the community fulfilled a true emancipation only after the unification of Italy, in 1861.
The synagogue of Florence was inaugurated in 1882 in the “Mattonaia” district (an area with parks and gardens, within the city walls, but still not completely developed at the time), and is one of Europe’s finest examples of a blend of the exotic Moorish style with Arabic and Byzantine elements, with the influence of both Christian churches and Old Spanish synagogues: a travertine and pink limestone façade, the copper-cladding on the central and lateral domes and the massive walnut doors, the blue dome.
The style is also reflected in the interior decorations and furnishings. This synagogue is considered one of the most beautiful buildings erected in nineteenth century Italy and, being inspired by Italian and foreign models, is also a perfect example of European innovations in art and architecture of the time.
The synagogue houses the Jewish Museum, a journey through the history of this community, with a rich collection of ceremonial objects of Jewish art, silver and fabrics from the ancient synagogues of the Florentine ghetto, historical photographs and videos and a room dedicated to the memory of the Shoah.
Accessibility information: feelflorence.it