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Great Synagogue of Rome
Basic information
Location Italy Rome, Italy
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Rite Italki
Status Active
Website tempiomaggiore.roma
Architectural description
Architect(s) Vincenzo Costa
Osvaldo Armanni
Year completed 1904

The Great Synagogue of Rome (Italian: Tempio Maggiore di Roma) is the largest synagogue in Rome.



The Jewish community of Rome goes back to the second century BC when Judea had an alliance with the Roman Empire under the leadership of Judah Maccabeus. During that time, many Israelites left the land of Israel to go to Rome. Their numbers increased during the following centuries due to the settlement that came with Mediterranean trade. Then, there was the large influx of prisoners-of-war and slaves taken during the Jewish–Roman wars in Judea and Palestine, (from 63 B.C. To 135 A.D.)[1]

The building was constructed shortly after the unification of Italy in 1870, when the Kingdom of Italy captured Rome and the Papal States ceased to exist. The Roman Ghetto was demolished and the Jews were granted citizenship. The building which had previously housed the ghetto synagogue (a complicated structure housing five scolas in a single building) was demolished, and the Jewish community began making plans for a new and impressive building.[2]


Great Synagogue of Rome interior

Designed by Vincenzo Costa and Osvaldo Armanni, the synagogue was built from 1901 to 1904 on the banks of the Tiber, overlooking the former ghetto. The eclectic style of the building makes it stand out even in a city known for notable buildings and structures.[2] This attention-grabbing design was a deliberate choice made by the community at the time who wanted the building to be a visible celebration of their freedom and to be seen from many vantage points in the city. The aluminium dome is the only squared dome in the city and makes the building easily identifiable even from a distance. Commemorative plates honour the local Jewish victims of Nazi Germany and of a Palestine Liberation Organization attack in 1982.

On 13 April 1986, Pope John Paul II made an unexpected visit to the Great Synagogue. This event marked the first known visit by a pope to a synagogue since the early history of the Roman Catholic Church. He prayed with Rabbi Elio Toaff, the former Chief Rabbi of Rome.[2][3] This was seen by many as an attempt to improve relations between Catholicism and Judaism and a part of Pope John Paul II's programme to improve relations with Jews.

The synagogue celebrated its centenary in 2004. In addition to serving as a house of worship, it is also serves a cultural and organizational centre for la Comunità Ebraica di Roma (the Jewish community of Rome). It houses not only the offices of the Chief Rabbi of Rome as well as the Jewish Museum of Rome.[4][2]

On 17 January 2005, thirteen cantors, in conjunction with the Jewish Ministers Cantors Association of America (the Chazzanim Farband), performed in a cantorial concert for the first time in the synagogue's history.




External links

Coordinates: 41°53′31.57″N 12°28′40.81″E / 41.8921028°N 12.4780028°E / 41.8921028; 12.4780028



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