Latitude: 39.8557

Longitude: -4.02944

Region: --

Synagogue of El Transito

The selectable maps and aerial photographs within this page illustrate facts related to Synagogue of El Transito. The Synagogue of El Transito is a historic building in Toledo, Spain. It is famous for its rich stucco decoration, which bears comparison with the Alcazar of Seville and the Alhambra palaces in Granada. It was founded as a synagogue by Samuel ha-Levi Abulafia, Treasurer to Peter of Castile, in about 1356. The founder was a member of a family that had served the Castilian kings for several generations and included kabbalists and Torah scholars such as Meir and Todros Abulafia, and another Todros Abulafia who was one of the last poets to write in the Arab-influenced style favored by Jewish poets in twelfth and thirteenth-century Spain. King Peter probably gave his assent to the building of the synagogue to compensate the Jews of Toledo for destruction that had occurred in 1348, during anti-Jewish riots that accompanied the arrival of the Black Death in Toledo. The founder eventually fell foul of the king and was executed in 1360. The synagogue was converted to a church after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. The building, which is in a good state of conservation for its age, is currently a museum.

History of changes

After the expulsion of the city's Jews under the Alhambra decree in 1492, the Synagogue came under the Order of Calatrava, who converted the building into a church serving a priory dedicated to Saint Benedict, In the 17th century the church's name changed to Nuestra Señora del Transito: the name derives from a painting by Juan Correa de Vivar, Transit of the Virgin.

The synagogue was also used as military headquarters during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1877 the building became a national monument. The transformation of the building into the Sephardi Museum, as it is now officially called, started around 1910. It was initiated by the Veca-Inclan foundation.

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This Synagogue was the private family synagogue of the king's wealthy treasurer, Don Samuel ha-Levi Abulafia. With the apparent approval of the king, he defied all the laws about synagogues being smaller and lower than churches, and plain of decoration. It features Nasrid-style polychrome stucco-work, Hebrew inscriptions praising the king and himself, and quotations from the Psalms, as well as multifoil arches and a massive Mudéjar panelled ceiling. Arabic inscriptions are intertwined with the floral patterns in the stucco panels.

Women's Gallery

Women were separated from men during the ceremonies, but were allowed to watch. The Gallery is located on the first floor of the southern wall, having five open windows looking down towards Aron Kodesh or (to use more correct Sephardi terminology) the Hechal.

Photographs of the Synagogue

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Close places of interest

Santa María la Blanca (0.16 km)

Santa María la Blanca (literally Saint Mary the White, originally known as the Ibn Shushan Synagogue, or commonly "The Congregational Synagogue of Toledo'") is a museum and former synagogue in Toledo, Spain. Erected in 1180, it is disputably considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing. It is now owned and preserved by the Catholic Church. Its stylistic and cultural classification is unique as it was constructed under the Christian Kingdom of Castile by Islamic architects for Jewish use.

Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes, Toledo (0.3 km)

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Church of San Román, Toledo (0.36 km)

The San Román is a church in Toledo, Spain. The church has a steeple built in the mudéjar architectural style in the 13th century. It stands on top of one of the twelve hills of Toledo in one of the oldest parts of the town. It is currently the seat of the Museo de Arte Visigótico.

Puente de San Martín (Toledo) (0.42 km)

The Puente de San Martín is a medieval bridge across the river Tagus in Toledo, Spain. History The bridge was constructed in the late 14th century by archbishop Pedro Tenorio to provide access to the old town from the west, complementing the older Puente de Alcántara linking to the east. Both sides of the bridge were heavily fortified with towers, the more recent dating from the 16th century. The Puente de San Martín features five arches, with the largest in the middle reaching an impressive span length of 40 m. Only very few bridges in the world had reached that mark until then.

Toledo Cathedral (0.5 km)

The Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Toledo, Spain, see of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Toledo. The cathedral of Toledo is one of the three 13th-century High Gothic cathedrals in Spain and is considered, in the opinion of some authorities, to be the magnum opus of the Gothic style in Spain. It was begun in 1226 under the rule of Ferdinand III and the last Gothic contributions were made in the 15th century when, in 1493, the vaults of the central nave were finished during the time of the Catholic Monarchs.

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