1872 David Levi, donated enough money to build a synagogue
"worthy of Florence". The
construction was assigned to architects Treves, Falcini and
Micheli and lasted eight years, between 1874 and 1882.
Florentine Jews were Sephardic, the design of their synagogue
recalls the Muslim art of Moorish Spain. It
was dedicated October 24, 1882.
the internal walls were decorated between 1882 and 1890 by a
local painter: Giovanni Panti, who made use of gold-plating to
highlight the Moorish designs.
synagogue has successfully withstood wars, barbarism and
floods. The Germans tried to blow up the
structure during WWII, but the main building withstood
their efforts. Bayonet marks are still visible on the
doors of the Holy Ark which the Nazis used as a as a
warehouse and stable. When the
fascists were driven out of Florence they mined the
synagogue with explosives before they left.
the partisans were able to diffuse most of the bombs so
that only one gallery fell and could be replaced.
the second floor is the Jewish Museum of Florence, and outside
of the synagogue, there is a stone monument with the names
of 248 Jewish deportees engraved on the face.
of the building
Florence synagogue was built after years of discussion about its
location. The community wanted to build it as close to the
center as possible, in order to signify what it saw as the
important role Jews played in the new, unified Italy which had
guaranteed them full civil rights. In the event, the
temple was built a little off the old city center.
A gift of land and money by congregant David Levi was too good
to refuse. Still, the large dome of the Tempio
israelitico is a prominent feature of the Florence landscape.
The vaguely oriental shape of the dome supplanted an original
typicaly neo-renaissance design. This and all
the other Moorish features of the temple were virtually imposed
on the architects by the professors of the Florentine Academy.
Florence temple was designed by Marco Treves, Mariano Falcini
and Vincenzo Micheli. It seems that Treves, a
Jew, was the main spirit behind it; the others were perhaps only
Paradegoyim, "goys for show," to use a Viennese