Great Synagogue of Rome

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 2nd century BC when the Roman Empire 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 A.D.

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 in a single building) was demolished, and the Jewish community began making plans for a new and impressive building.


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. 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. 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 the offices of the Chief Rabbi of Rome, as well as the Jewish Museum of Rome.

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.

Building Activity

  • Georgi Sokolov
    Georgi Sokolov removed a media and updated
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  • Christopher barlow
    Christopher barlow commented
    a little eerie but worth the visit
    about 5 years ago via Mobile
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