Synagogue of El Transito

Toledo, Spain

The Synagogue of El Transito 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.

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.



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Founded: c. 1356
Category: Religious sites in Spain

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User Reviews

Shelley Magnezi (7 months ago)
Very interesting synagogue museum in Toledo. It depicts Jewish community life and the history of the Jews of Spain. Unfortunately none of the content is in English.
Orie Moses (8 months ago)
So I'm Jewish and from Israel too. I gather by meeting other tourists that we all think it's heart warming to see the people you are affiliated with in such a place together abroad as a place of gathering, for strangers from different lands. But the synagogue rich as it may be in history and culture, doesn't have as much dignity as the churches do (oh boy do the churches look astonishing). The synagogue seemed underwhelming, also the video and representation of judaism seemed so 'back in the day' and not what modern day Judaism looks like. Bought something from there (mini sword- you'll understand if you go there) make sure to keep your receipt. Otherwise the gift will be confiscated in the train station :/
Vlad Sinayuk (9 months ago)
Our day trip to Toledo culminated with a visit to the Tránsito Synagogue from the 6th century, built with dimensions proportional to the Second Temple. The wooden ceiling is comprised of Lebanese cedar, and is original. It is supposedly a replica of the ceiling of the Second Temple, as specified by Simon HaLevi at the time. This is by far for the oldest and most intact Sefardí synagogue, and it survived the Inquisition, the Holocaust of the time beginning in the late 15th century, due to HaLevi’s political influence. The small but informative Museo Sefardí is housed in the museum complex, and worth a slow walk through. Don’t miss the memorial garden with recovered Jewish tombstones that have been used for house construction in Toledo after the inquisition.
Kyle Wit (9 months ago)
What's special here is the Mudejar style in a 14th century synagogue that became a church and military territory after 1492 and then became landmarked as a synagogue a few hundred years later. The beautifully carved geometrical patterns and arch forms are typical in mosques of the period, but to see Hebrew and Jewish symbols is very interesting. But my favorite part is the information given in the lateral sections and upstairs where you can look over the synagogue area. The information is given chronologically and concisely. As well, they display interesting and valuable artifacts. However, it is written only in Spanish. Get to C1 Spanish reading comprehension before coming or else bring your translator! Nice stuff at the gift shop too
MOHE FLORENCE (10 months ago)
This old synagogue that is now a beautiful museum is worth visiting. You learn so much about the life of the Jewish in Spain. What I particularly love is the way that the 3 religions lived together in harmony. I wish this spirit would come back someday. I recommend.
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