Synagogue - Temple of the Greater Israelites

Via Luigi Carlo Farini, 4. (Open Map)


The Great Synagogue of Florence or Tempio Maggiore is a notable synagogue in Florence.The synagogue was built between 1874 and 1882, thanks to a large donation made by David Levi, a member of the local Jewish community. His legacy was to build a synagogue worthy of Florence beauty. The architects were Mariano Falcini, Professor Vincente Micheli, and Marco Treves, who was Jewish. Their design integrated the architectural traditions of the Islamic and Italian worlds.Layers of travertine and granite alternate in the masonry, creating a striped effect like that of the Siena Cathedral. Old photographs show bold red and beige stripes, but the bold colors of the stone have faded over time, leaving a more mottled effect.The overall form of the synagogue is the cruciform plan of Hagia Sophia emulated by so many mosques. The corner towers are topped with horseshoe-arched towers themselves topped with onion domes in the Moorish Revival style. Three horseshoe arches form the main entrance, above it rise tiers of ajimez windows, with their paired horseshoe arches sharing a single column. The copper roof was oxidized to make the green roof stand out over the Florence sky.Inside the building "every square inch is covered with colored designs," in Moorish patterns. The interior mosaics and frescoes inside are by Giovanni Panti. Giacomo del Medico designed the great arch. During World War II Fascist soldiers used the synagogue as a vehicle garage. In August 1944 retreating German troops worked with Italian Fascists to destroy the synagogue, but the Italian resistance managed to defuse most of the explosives. Only a limited amount of damage was done. The synagogue was restored after the war. It was restored again after damage by massive flooding in 1966.The Great synagogue of Florence has been widely admired. The Jewish community in Florence is composed of about 1400 people. However, it has a long history which reaches back to the medieval era. However, there was a nearby Jewish community in the Oltrarno area, south of the Arno river that dates to the Roman Era. It is known that the first synagogue was built in the 13th century.