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Jewish Ghetto Rome Tourist Guide

The Jewish ghetto is a unique neighborhood to add to your list of sightseeing in Rome.

It is near the Tiber River between Ponte Sulpicius across from Trastevere and the most ancient bridge in Rome, the Ponte Fabricius, which leads to Tiberina Island.

A "ghetto" was a part of town where Jews or a single ethnic group lived segregated.

The Roman Ghetto is an interesting quarter to explore on a Rome Italy vacation.

Jewish Ghetto History

The Roman Jews came directly from the Holy Land before the Diaspora, first arriving in the 2nd century BC to establish business ties. Then in 70AD Emperor Titus became angry when the Jews in Jerusalem would not worship him and he attacked Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple and brought home 50,000 Jewish slaves. The Popes eventually ruled the Jews and although some Popes treated the Roman Jews more humanely, others persecuted them.

During a time of an increase in anti-semitism, Pope Paul IV created the Jewish Ghetto in 1555. 4000 Jews were walled in on 7 acres of land. The Jews had to wear yellow scarves and caps, couldn't own property and a curfew was enforced. The Ghetto walls were finally torn down in 1848. In 1870 after Italian unification they were granted full rights and citizenship.

September 11, 1943 the Germans occupied Rome and 2000 Roman Jews were sent to concentration camps. Only 16 survived and returned to Rome. Pope John Paul II initiated steps toward healing between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish community saying the church should have stood stronger in defending the Jews during the Holocaust.


Jewish Ghetto Attractions in Rome

  • Chiesa di San Gregorio della Divina PietĂ 

    Jewish Ghetto Chiesa di San Gregorio

    The Church of San Gregorio della Divina Pieta, also called Santa Maria della Pieta, was built by a converted Jew. He had a painting of the Crucifixion put on the outside of the church and an inscription from Isaiah 65:2.

    All day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and faithless nation.

    The church is opposite what was a gate of the ghetto and this painting would have been seen by all as they enter the Ghetto.

  • Rome Jewish Synagogue

    Jewish Ghetto Synagogue

    The current Synagogue of Emancipation was built on the site of the original synagogue. It was designed by the architects Armanni and Costa and completed in 1904.

    The Dome, painted in the colors of the rainbow, is a reminder of God's promise to Noah of no more floods. The stars on the ceiling are a reminder of God's promise to Abraham that his descendants would number more than the stars in the sky.

    The exterior has a frieze of a 7 branched candlestick, David's harp and Miriam's timbrel.

    The interior is lovely and decorated with a frieze representing the Temple of Solomon with its sacred vessels. The round window has 12 panes of different colored glass, symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel. The eastern wall has the "Holy of Holies" and a 7 branched candlestick.

  • Jewish Museum Rome

    The Museo d'Arte Ebraica is a small museum depicting Roman Jewish life and ritual. It contains historical artifacts, 2nd century BC reliefs with Jewish symbols and other relics.

    There is an entrance fee, currently 7.50 euro which includes the museum and a guided synagogue tour.

  • Portico d'Ottavia and Via del Portico d'Ottavia

    Jewish Ghetto Via del Portico d'Ottavia Square
    Jewish Ghetto Portico d'Ottavia

    The Via Portico d'Ottavia or Octavia's Porch street is still the center of Jewish life in Rome.

    Walking down the Via del Portico d'Ottavia, you will get a great feel for this unique area and notice a mix of ancient, medieval and Renaissance architecture. There are many kosher restaurants, cafes and shops.

    The Portico d'Ottavia was first built in 146 BC and then totally rebuilt by Augustus and dedicated to his sister Octavia. It served as a kind of cultural center with its libraries, halls for music and public meetings and artwork.

    After the fall of Rome, it became a fish market and in the 8th century the Church of Sant Angelo in Pescheria was built in the Portico.

    To the right of the Portico d'Ottavia is what remains of the huge Teatro di Marcello or Theater of Marcellus. It is the only ancient theater left in Rome and it was built by Augustus and accommodated 15000 to 20000 spectators! The remains are a curved exterior wall in which the 16th century Savelli Palace was built.

  • Piazza Mattei

    Jewish Ghetto Piazza mattei Fontana delle Tartarughe
    by pmorgan67
    Jewish Ghetto Palazzo Mattei Courtyard
    by antmoose

    At the Northern end of the Jewish Quarter is the Piazza Mattei and the beautiful, playful Fontana delle Tartarughe or Tortoise Fountain.

    It was created in 1581-1584 by Taddeo Landini and Giacomo della Porta. Four young boys hold their hands up seemingly helping the turtles into the fountain. The turtles were added in 1658 supposedly by Bernini.

  • Palazzo Costaguti in known for its 6 wonderful ceilings by famous artists: Albani - Hercules wounding the Centaur Nessus, Domenichino - Apollos in his car, Guercino - Riualdo and Armida in a chariot pulled by dragons, Cav. d'Arpino - Juno nursing hercules, Lanfranco - Justice and Peace, Romanelli - Arion saved by the Dolphin.

    Palazzo Mattei was built by Carlo Maderno in 1615 for Duke Mattei. It has a stunning small courtyard with many busts, reliefs and statues. The staircase is also decorated in a similar style.


Jewish Ghetto Rome Hotels

This is a unique area of Rome in which to stay on a Rome Italy vacation ....near many ancient Roman attractions but away from the crowds.

There are hardly any hotels in the Jewish Quarter, so also consider an apartment or Bed and Breakfast.

The Arenula Hotel is a Rome budget hotel option with basic rooms and breakfast.

Bed and Breakfast Rome Jewish Quarter

The Little Queen B&B is a great choice for a Rome Jewish Ghetto bed and breakfast. It is on a quiet charming street just off the main Via del Portico d'Ottavia.

Jewish Quarter Vacation Rentals in Rome Italy

Rome Holiday rentals are a wonderful option for families, couples traveling together or those who would like to save some money by cooking some meals.

Here is a lovely Jewish Ghetto vacation rental located on the 4th floor of a historical building. This one bedroom with queen sized bed has a pull out sofa in the living room. The small terrace has a table and chairs and a great view.

This Jewish Quarter apartment rental Rome Italy has 2 bedrooms and sleeps 4. There is a marble fireplace and modern kitchen with washing machine. The building has an elevator.


Jewish Restaurants Rome Italy

Jewish Ghetto Pizza shop on Via Portico d'Ottaiva

Along Via Portico d'Ottavia there are many excellent Jewish Ghetto restaurants, trattorias, cafes, bakeries and sandwich shops such as this cheap Pizza and sandwich shop where we bought a tasty lunch on our visit to the Jewish Ghetto.

La Teverna del Ghetto has authentic Roman-style recipes. You will find many locals at Sora Marherita Pranzo.

Il Portico on via del Portico d'Ottavia is a family run great budget Rome restaurant option in the Jewish Quarter. Antico Forno del Ghetto the Ghetto's ancient baker, Piazza Costaguti 30/31 has a large variety of kosher pizza and bread items.

Bete Avon Via Portico d'Ottavia 1/b is a Jewish Kosher sandwich shop. Da Benito is a family-run trattoria at Via dei Falegnami 14.

Shopping Jewish Quarter

Via della Reginella has a variety of shops including a book shop, a tea room, and some shops with sculpture and other art pieces.

The unique Old Prints Shop, Via della Reginella 26/28, has rare books, papers, postcards, photos and more.

Here are some other pages that might interest you for Rome vacations:

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