Great Synagogue of Florence & Jewish Museum

Museum and Synagogue in Florence

Synagogue Florence Italy
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Toksave

The Great Synagogue of Florence, located in Italy, is among the largest synagogues in South-central Europe. Constructed between 1874 and 1882, it holds historical significance as one of the key synagogues built during the era of Jewish emancipation in Europe. In 1848, following the granting of free citizen status to the Jewish community in the Duchy of Tuscany, plans emerged to build a new synagogue symbolizing this newfound freedom. However, it wasn’t until later that funds were secured for the construction. David Levi, the president of the Jewish community, bequeathed his estate in 1870 to fund the project, resulting in the creation of the ‘Israelitic Temple.’

The architectural team, comprising Mariano Falcini, Professor Vincenzo Micheli, and the Jewish architect Marco Treves, blended Italian architectural tradition with Moorish influences in the design. The use of Moorish style, uncommon in churches, was considered apt for a synagogue, especially one built in the Sefardic style, serving as a reminder of Sefardic Jewry’s origins in Moorish Spain.

The masonry of the synagogue features alternating layers of travertine and granite, creating a striped effect, though the bold colours of the stone have faded over time. The overall quadrangular plan includes a central dome with pendentives reminiscent of the Hagia Sophia, and corner towers with horseshoe-arched towers topped by onion domes in the Moorish Revival style. The entrance showcases three horseshoe arches above tiers of ajimez windows. The natural copper roof, oxidized to green, stands out in the Florentine skyline.

Internally, the synagogue is adorned with coloured Moorish patterns covering every inch. The mosaics and frescoes, created by Giovanni Panti, contribute to the vibrant interior. Giacomo del Medico designed the grand arch. Despite facing occupation by Nazi soldiers during World War II and subsequent attempts at destruction, the synagogue was restored after the war. It also underwent restoration following damage caused by the River Arno flood in 1966.


The Great Synagogue of Florence & Jewish Museum appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Florence!

This website uses affiliate links which may earn a commission at no additional cost to you!

Visiting Great Synagogue of Florence & Jewish Museum

Hours:

1st June to 30th September: Monday to Thursday 10.00 am – 6.30 pm | Friday 10.00 am – 5.00 pm From 1st October to 31st May: Sunday to Thursday 10.00 am – 5.30 pm | Friday 10.00 am – 3.00 pm


Price:

€ 6.50

Address: Synagogue and Jewish Museum of Florence, Via Luigi Carlo Farini, Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

Nearby Attractions

Tours and Activities from Florence