5 Things To Know about the Great Synagogue of Rome

Ciao and welcome to a new blog post about the magnificent Rome. In this article, I will virtually take you to the Great Synagogue of Rome, also called Tempio Maggiore, the biggest jewish temple in Rome. In particular, I will tell you 5 things to know about the Great Synagogue of Rome that I discovered during a private Guided Tour I did with my family. Well, don’t waste your time and start our virtual journey to the Great Synagogue of Rome.

Nice to meet you

Before starting our free guide, I want to introduce myself. I am Marianna, your Italian virtual guide and the founder of TheItalianVibes.com. I come from a little town near Amalfi Coast but I moved to Rome in 2010. Even though a long time has passed since I moved to Rome, I am still in love with it.

In fact, I am pretty sure that I have more than 1 million pictures of the Colosseum, from different angles and in several moments of the day. I feel so much love for Rome that some time ago I decided to share all this love with the whole world. For that reason, I launched this Blog. So, in this Blog you will find practical information, not tourist itineraries and more about Rome and Italy. My aim is to share the incredible beauties and hidden gems of Rome and Italy with all people who are interested in knowing everything about one of the most beautiful Countries in the world.

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Where is the Great Synagogue of Rome

Nestled in the heart of Rome’s historic Jewish Ghetto, the Great Synagogue stands as a testament to the enduring presence of the Jewish community in this ancient city. Beyond its awe-inspiring architecture, this remarkable site holds a tapestry of stories and hidden gems that beckon visitors to delve into the rich tapestry of Rome’s cultural heritage.

Great Synagogue is located near Trastevere and Lungotevere, one of the most central neighborhoods of Rome. You can easily reach it walking more or less 20 minutes from Piazza Venezia. After visiting the Great Synagogue, you can have a walk at Jewish Ghetto, one of the most characteristic areas of Rome. Here you will find Portico d’Ottavia, a symbol of Jewish Ghetto, and Chiesa dei Pescatori, just renewed. After a walk in Ghetto, have a stop in one of the typical Roman – Jewish restaurants in the main street and taste carciofi alla giudia. They are impressive!

Why visiting the Great Synagogue of Rome

After many years in Rome, finally I had the opportunity to join a private guide tour to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome, on a sunny Sunday of November. When I entered the Great Synagogue of Rome I felt speechless. I had just visited some synagogues during my trip to Jerusalem some years ago, but I had never had the opportunity to visit a synagogue in Rome. It was like a perfect mix among the architectural styles of Jewish and Italian people. Really impressive!

Visiting the Great Synagogue of Rome is a profound journey into the heart of the city’s rich cultural tapestry. Beyond its breathtaking architectural beauty, this sacred site encapsulates centuries of history, resilience, and the vibrant spirit of Rome’s Jewish community. Steeped in symbolism, the 39 steps leading to its entrance beckon visitors to explore a space where diverse influences seamlessly intertwine.

Inside, the Eternal Lamp flickers, echoing the enduring flame that once illuminated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Great Synagogue stands not merely as a testament to religious worship but as a beacon of cultural diversity, fostering understanding and appreciation for the contributions of the Jewish community to Rome’s narrative. From the tranquil Spanish Synagogue to the educational Jewish Museum, each facet of this sacred complex offers a unique perspective. 

5 Things to Know about the Great Synagogue of Rome

As I told you before, I visited the Great Synagogue of Rome joining a private guided tour and it was a fantastic choice. Thanks to my Jewish Guide, I had the opportunity to know more about the Jewish culture and tradition too. This allowed me to feel a deeper connection with Jewish population, understanding the importance of Synagogue in their religion.

I created a list of the 5 most important curiosities about the Great Synagogue of Rome that captured my attention. Obviously, these are only a few things about one of the most important symbols for the Jewish people in Rome. Book a private guided tour to discover hidden anecdotes about the Great Synagogue of Rome.

Great Synagogue of Rome indoors
Great Synagogue of Rome indoors 2

The location

The first Synagogue of Rome was built in the neighborhood where Jewish people were relegated by Pope Paolo IV. Pope Paolo IV ordered the creation of the Jewish ghetto by launching a papal edict. With the launch of the edict, Pope Paolo IV told that he didn’t want that Christian and Jewish people to stay in the same place. For that reason, he asked to create an area of Rome surrounded by high gates where Jewish people have to live. I think that it was one of the saddest things ever done in Italy.

Initially, Jewish ghetto was created at the same level of the Tevere River. That situation created many problems, increasing the spread of diseases due to the lack of cleanliness. When Jewish people obtained independence, they created the first Great Synagogue of Rome in the same neighborhoods where Jewish people were confined in the past. It was a way to never forget what ancient people suffered.

Great Synagogue of Rome square dome
Great Synagogue of Rome

The Square Dome

The first thing that captures the attention when entering the Synagogue is something never seen before – the square dome. In fact, the Great Synagogue of Rome is the only building in Rome that doesn’t have a circular dome, which characterizes the majority of the buildings in Rome. 

What makes this square dome particularly intriguing is its intentional departure from the prevalent circular or octagonal domes commonly found in Roman architecture. The decision to construct a square dome is symbolic, reflecting a harmonious blend of various architectural influences, including Moorish and Romanesque styles.

museum of jewish people

Jewish Museum of Rome

Connected to the synagogue, the Jewish Museum offers a captivating journey through Rome’s Jewish history. In the Museum, you can find typical ornaments, clothing and objects of traditional Jewish life. In particular, you can see many clothing used to cover the Torah, the holy book of Jewish religion.

One of the things that I love was the table prepared for celebrating the Shabbat, the traditional lunch of Saturday. The table is decorated with all the objects used today to celebrate the most important day of the week in the Jewish culture. Another interesting thing is the object used to read the Torah. As you know, the Torah is a holy book and Jewish think that people can’t touch its pages by hand. For that reason, they use an object that symbolizes an index finger, to use to turn the pages. Impressive!

Practical Tip: Explore the museum before your synagogue visit for a comprehensive understanding of the community’s contributions.

The Spanish Synagogue

Adjacent to Sinagoga Romana lies the lesser-known Spanish Synagogue, boasting a fusion of Spanish and Moorish architecture. Discover the tranquility of this hidden gem within the complex. The Spanish Synagogue is a testament to the diverse influences that have shaped Jewish architecture over the centuries.

Its design seamlessly blends Spanish and Moorish styles, creating a tranquil space that transports visitors to a different era. The Spanish Synagogue can be visited only with a guide in a private tour. Another reason to book a guided tour!

Great Synagogue of Rome ceilings
Great Synagogue of Rome

Architectural Harmony

Sinagoga Romana is a mesmerizing blend of different architectural styles, reflecting the diverse influences that have shaped Rome’s history. From Moorish to Romanesque, every corner unveils a story within its walls. When entering the Synagogue, you will be captured by the beauty of its architecture. Take your time to admire the symbols of Jewish culture, such as the Torah wardrobe on the althare. Try to feel the importance of this religious symbol for the Jewish community and pay attention to details. They make this Synagogue incredibly stunning.

Practical Information for Visiting the Great Synagogue of Rome

As I told you at the beginning of this free guide, I tried to visit the Great Synogue of Rome for years before managing it. Unfortunately, it has been closed to the public for years, and only jewish people where allowed to join celebrations. Luckily, after some years, now it is possible to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome again. So, plan your visit at this point if you want to have an interesting and pleasant experience.

Opening Hours of the Great Synagogue of Rome

The Great Synagogue welcomes visitors throughout the week, but it’s essential to plan your visit with attention to its operating hours. Generally, the synagogue is open from Sunday to Friday, with varying hours. Ensure to check the official website or contact the synagogue for the most up-to-date information on opening times, as they may be subject to change for religious observances or special events.

Private Tour of Great Synagogue of Rome

For a more enriching and personalized experience, consider engaging a private tour guide when visiting the Great Synagogue. Expert guides can provide in-depth insights into the history, architecture, and cultural significance of this iconic site. They can tailor the tour to your interests and offer a deeper understanding of the Jewish community’s contributions to Rome. I booked a tour on GetYourGuide and I had a very interesting visit. The group was small and the guide was well informed, so we discovered many interesting stuff about Jewish traditions too.

Best Days to Visit

To make the most of your visit to the Great Synagogue, consider planning your trip on weekdays when the site is generally less crowded. Monday through Thursday tends to be quieter, providing a more serene atmosphere for reflection and exploration. Additionally, arriving earlier in the day can enhance your experience, allowing you to appreciate the intricate details of the architecture and exhibits without the bustling crowds. Keep in mind that the synagogue may have reduced hours or be closed on certain Jewish holidays, so it’s advisable to check the calendar and plan accordingly.

Discover the Great Synagogue of Rome: it’s your turn!

We have just arrived to the end of this free guide about what to see at the Great Synagogue of Rome. I hope that this article helped you to understand the main things to see at one of the most important symbol of Jewish people in Italy. If you want to know more about Rome, give a look at these resources I created for you:

If you need some help to organise your next trip to Rome or to Italy, send me an email at marianna@theitalianvibes.com. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

Xo xo,

Marianna, Your Italian Friend

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