The Tempio Maggiore stands as a symbol of the enduring presence of the Jewish community in Rome and contributes to the city’s rich tapestry of religious and cultural diversity. It is a place of worship, a cultural hub, and a historical monument that reflects the resilience and contributions of Rome’s Jewish community.
The Great Synagogue of Rome is the largest synagogue in Rome. The highly visible squared aluminium dome that tops this synagogue is the only one in the city. The Jewish community of Rome goes back to the 2nd century B.C when the Roman Republic had an alliance of sorts with Judea under the leadership of Judah Maccabeus. At that time, many Jews came to Rome from Judea. Their numbers increased during the following centuries due to the settlement that came with Mediterranean trade. Then large numbers of Jews were brought to Rome as slaves following the Jewish–Roman wars in Judea from 63 to 135 CE.
The Great Synagogue of Rome, a few years after its completion (before 1906). The present Synagogue 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 (the Italian-Jewish term for synagogues) in a single building was demolished, and the Jewish community began making plans for a new and impressive building.
The Tempio Maggiore, also known as the Great Synagogue of Rome, is the main synagogue of Rome and one of the largest Jewish temples in Europe. Here are key details about this significant religious and cultural institution:
- The Tempio Maggiore is located in the rione (district) of Sant’Angelo, in the historic center of Rome. It is situated near the Tiber River.
- Architectural Style:
- The synagogue was designed in the eclectic architectural style, incorporating a mix of various influences, including Moorish, Assyrian, and Romanesque styles. The design reflects the eclectic taste prevalent in the late 19th century.
- Construction Period:
- The construction of the Tempio Maggiore took place between 1901 and 1904, during the reign of King Umberto I. It was inaugurated in 1904.
- The architects responsible for the design of the synagogue were Vincenzo Costa and Osvaldo Armanni.
- The synagogue is known for its impressive dome, intricate decorations, and the use of different materials, including travertine, brick, and marble.
- The interior of the synagogue is adorned with beautiful decorations, stained glass windows, and artistic elements. The Ark of the Covenant, which houses the Torah scrolls, is a central focus inside.
- Rome’s Jewish Ghetto:
- The synagogue is located in the area historically known as the Jewish Ghetto of Rome. The Jewish community in Rome has a long and complex history dating back to ancient times.
- The synagogue complex also includes a Jewish Museum, which provides insights into the history, traditions, and culture of the Jewish community in Rome.
- Holocaust Memorial:
- The synagogue features a Holocaust memorial in its courtyard, commemorating the Roman Jews who lost their lives during the Holocaust.
- Active Synagogue:
- The Tempio Maggiore is an active synagogue where religious services, ceremonies, and cultural events take place. It serves as a spiritual and communal center for Rome’s Jewish community.
- Open to Visitors:
- The synagogue is open to visitors who want to explore its architectural and cultural significance. Guided tours are often available.