Archive for March 16th, 2019

March 16, 2019

The Synagogues of Toledo!

So coming all the way south of my beloved Madrid passing by family  north of Toledo, and reaching nice historical huge and architecturally stunning Toledo. It is in the Autonomous Region of Castilla La Mancha. I have written several posts on Toledo and region but today will like to tell you about another gem.

I like to tell you a bit about the synagogues of Toledo and a bit of history I like.

The architecture of this part of the city differs in nothing from the rest of Toledo. The district orbits between the two ancient synagogues: Santa María la Blanca and Tránsito. It is difficult to find with certainty the topography of the old Jewish quarter. First of all, only very few writings or testimonies have been found to date. In addition, the Jewish community left the city after the violent pogrom of 1391, and again in 1492. The Jewish quarter fell completely into ruins until the second half of the 19C, where important reconstruction work took place. The rediscovery and rehabilitation of this district dates back to the 20C. However, the researchers have retraced with certainty the existence of several sub-districts: Arriasa, Sofer, Hamanzeit, Mármol (marble), and Degolladero (the slaughterhouse).

The Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca (St Mary the White)  was a Jewish place of worship ,then Catholic, and today a museum, located in Toledo. Built at 12C to serve as a synagogue, it was transformed into a church after the pogroms of the 14C.  Today it belongs to the Catholic Church which has made it into a museum open to the public.


The synagogue Santa María la Blanca was built in 1180 as evidenced by a date in Hebrew on one of the beams. Toledo was already reconquered by the Christian princes since 1085. It is a superb example of a mudejar style that looks more like a mosque than a synagogue, especially by the absence of a gallery for women. Also typically Mudejar are, the use of white and smooth walls made of bricks covered with cement and lime, the geometric decoration of the friezes, and vegetal style of the capitals.  The synagogue is characterized by five naves separated from pillars supporting horseshoe arches. It was transformed into a church from 1405 after what centuries later one would have called a pogrom perhaps led by Saint Vincent Ferrier.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to Santa Maria La Blanca are

Tourist office of Toledo on Santa Maria La Blanca

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Santa Maria la Blanca

The Tránsito Synagogue was built in 1357 by order of the treasurer of King Pedro I, Samuel Levi. Archaeological digs suggest that this imposing construction is probably located on the grounds of an older synagogue. In 1492, the Catholic Monarchs donated it to the military Order of Calatrava, which transformed it into a priory. During the Napoleonic Wars, it served as barracks.


It was joined by the Sefardí Museum, in the neighboring dependencies. As in many cases, the brick façade is austere and without decoration, but the interior is of great beauty. This is probably one of the best examples of Mudejar style in Spain. of harmonious dimensions with 23 meters long on 9.50 meters wide, and 17 meters high, it has a coffered ceiling in larch, richly adorned. With a special entrance, the Ladies ‘ day-care center is well lit by five large windows. It is the interior decoration that made this building famous with the wall that hosts the niche reserved for the Sifrei Torah, is covered with panels and a frieze of plaster carved in the oriental tradition. Many inscriptions run along the walls ,commemorating the name of Samuel Levi and Pedro I. Excerpts from the Psalms complete the décor illuminated by windows finely decorated with small columns and mashrabiyya of stone lace. In the dependencies, the museum exhibits donations and coins collected throughout Spain, which will allow you to explore the history of Spanish Judaism. Seminars, courses and lectures are organized during the year on topics related to Spanish Judaism. The synagogue is not used for worship.


The anecdote is that right outside there is gift shop held by an English lady for over 50 years living in Toledo. We made good talk on our several trips here and she has good stuff; does not know how long further as it seems there is no family takeover after she is gone. Maybe a chance to buy the place….


Some webpages to help you plan your visit to the Transito synagogue are

Tourist office of Toledo on the museum Sefardi at Transito

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Sefardi museum at Transito

There you go two gems to visit and it is a must while in gorgeous Toledo, the Santa Maria la Blanca and Trànsito synagogues are nice to visit; hope you enjoy the post.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



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