The Synagogue and the Jewish Museum
The synagogue of Siena, located a few steps from Piazza del Campo, is located in the heart of the ancient Jewish Ghetto of Siena, where the Sienese Jews remained confined until 1859. In 1571 the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de Medici, extended the restrictive measures already adopted in Florence also to the Sienese state, where Jews had been present since the 12th century. Despite the limitations and heavy restrictions, the Sienese Jewish Community developed, reaching over 400 members and its commitment significantly contributed to the economic and cultural growth of the city.
In 1786, with a solemn musical ceremony, the splendid Synagogue of Siena was inaugurated, which still represents the center of worship of the local Jewish community and one of the few examples of architecture between Rococo and Neoclassicism in Tuscany. The simple external facade and, in contrast, the elegant richly decorated interior are examples of the synagogues built in the ghetto age, before the emancipation of Italian Jews, which took place with the unification of Italy in 1861.
The room, slightly rectangular in shape, houses the rows of benches on the sides, while in the center is the podium (tevà) enriched by nine eighteenth-century nine-branched candelabra. In the center of the ceiling the tables of the Law in white stucco and painted in blue have been inserted. The synagogue, still used today for religious services by the local Jewish community, houses ancient Torah scrolls, silver and ritual vestments of great value, displayed in the room adjacent to the prayer room.
The ancient women's women's gallery, arranged on two floors, overlooks the synagogue protected by wooden grates pierced with floral motifs: a cozy place full of suggestions, it is no longer used for ritual use, but integrates the visit to the Synagogue and houses a path of texts, images, prayer books and objects that trace the most significant aspects of the long Jewish presence in Siena.