The Jews Community in Siena
The ancient Jews ghetto of Siena is just a few steps from Piazza del Campo, the most important square in the city. In this tour you will discover the history of the Jews community in Siena, starting from the period of the Republic. The documents attest the first existence of Jews in Siena in 1229.
At the beginning of the 300 a Jews gentleman managed to get permission to have a bank in Siena and this event marked the beginning of an activity destined to grow for many years. The Black Death arrived in 1348 and the Jews were considered guilty for this, the situation in the 15th century worsened even more, so much so that they had to bring a sign of recognition. The situation subsequently improved, as they were allowed to live and trade in the city centre.
Thanks to the construction of a Yeshiva (the Jews educational institution), Siena became an important centre of religious studies and Jews people were allowed to study at the University of Siena.
The guide will tell you about the period from the Grand Ducal until the year 1859 that marks the actual closure of the Jews ghetto. For almost 300 years Jews had to live confined within this ghetto, always following the established dress codes. The anti-Jews regulations prohibited them to work in banking and Jewish traders were allowed to sell only second-hand goods.
The synagogue was built at the end of the 700, still existing in the ancient ghetto that you will visit. You will learn about all the events that occurred during the French occupation in Siena, such as the one related to the anti-French movement, called Viva Maria. The commemorative plaques placed at the entrance of the synagogue recall that period and that of the First World War.
Today the Jewish community of Siena is annexed to the Florentine one, since it is made up of too few people.
The synagogue, designed by the Florentine architect Zanobi del Rosso, represents a beautiful example of architecture ranging from Rococo to Neoclassicism. You will admire the elegant interior with the ancient ritual vestments and the charming old matron. The only Jews cemetery is located outside the Gate Porta Romana, and preserves tombs from the 16th century until today.