On this private, 4-hour walking tour your
expert guide will escort you on a fascinating journey to discover the old
Jewish Quarters of Rome.
of this Jewish Quarter of Rome walking tour:
- Private guide for 4 hours
- The Jewish Museum and the Synagogue
- Teatro Marcello (Theatre of Marcellus)
- Fontana delle Tartarughe (Turtle Fountain)
- Porticus of Octavia
- Campo de' Fiori
With your guide, you will walk the area of the
old Jewish ghetto, tucked into a corner of the historic centre of Rome. This quarter dates back to the mid-16th
Century, but the Jewish story in Rome goes back more than 2000 years.
Across the centuries the pendulum has really
swung when it comes to how the Jewish people fared in Rome. Periods of peaceful coexistence and
prosperity have been perforated with times of mistreatment, segregation and
The Jewish community of Rome is the oldest in
Europe and the oldest continuous Jewish settlement in the world outside
Israel. The first Jews were delegates
sent by Judah Maccabee in 161 BCE, seeking protection from oppression in the
Seleucid Empire. In the aftermath of the
Seige of Jerusalem in 63 BCE, when the Hasmonean kingdom became a protectorate
of Rome, Jewish prisoners of war were brought back to Rome as slaves, but
diplomats and merchants seeking commercial opportunities came as well. The Jewish community was established and
began to thrive very quickly.
Fast forward to Renaissance times. In 1555, during the Reformation under Pope
Paul IV, the Jewish community in Rome entered into 300 years of suffering and
oppression. They were confined to their
own quarter, enclosed by a wall. Living
conditions were inhumane, decrees levied against them oppressive. The ghetto was finally liberated under King
Victor Emanuel after Italy was unified in 1870, and its inhabitant's given equal
rights and citizenship.
GREAT SYNAGOGUE/JEWISH MUSEUM
To celebrate liberation from the ghetto the Great Synagogue was planned with a unique Art Deco design and
built just after the turn of the 20th Century.
It is easily identified on the skyline of Rome by its square-based dome,
the only one in the city.
Enter the Synagogue and the Jewish Museum with your guide, where you’ll find many
compelling artifacts, mostly from the time of the ghetto, and learn many things
about the Jewish history of Rome as well as particulars of the liturgy, such as
the Nusach Italki, that developed
here over the millennia.
OTHER MONUMENTS IN THE AREA
In the area of the old Roman ghetto you’ll see
other historical sites from differing eras, some more connected to the Jewish
story of Rome than others, but all interesting, nonetheless.
of Marcellus, seating perhaps as many as 20,000 spectators, was an open-air
theatre for the performing arts built by Julius Caesar and finished by
Augustus. The curious feature of the
theatre today is that the top floor is inhabited -- and, ironically, these
swanky apartments are now some of the most expensive real estate in Rome.
delle Targarughe (Turtle
Fountain) was built as a drinking fountain in the late 16th Century but low
water pressure made it necessary to modify the design. Four dolphins that originally spouted
water from the top basin were moved to another fountain, and the turtles were
added to give purpose to the reaching hands of the male figures.
What if left of the Porticus of Octavia is a mere remnant of what it was in ancient
times. The portico (basically a covered
walkway) was a gigantic rectangular enclosure, about 440 ft x 375 ft. Within its boundaries were two temples, and
it was part of the triumphal procession route taken by emperors returning
glorious from battle. In Medieval times space housed a fish market, from which the neighborhood church of Sant’Angelo
in Pescheria gets its name.
CAMPO DEI FIORI
The Jewish ghetto was situated in Rione
Sant’Angelo at the south end of Campo de’ Fiori. You’ll also visit this bustling piazza with
your guide. It’s changed a bit from the day when it was really a campo dei fiori
(field of flowers), now home to a lively open-air market surrounded by
restaurants and cafés.