The Eternal city is more than just The Pantheon and the Colosseum. There’s also a historical community of Jews living right in downtown Rome!! Here’s a self-guided tour of the Jewish Ghetto in Rome where you’ll learn the history of this fascinating area and also see the best places to eat!
This is a collaborative post with Exclusiveissimo Tours. All photos and content has been provided by Exclusiveissimo!
Self-Guided Tour of The Jewish Ghetto in Rome
History Of the Jewish Ghetto
The Jews have been living in Rome since the 2nd century B.C. They have practically seen the start and downfall of the Roman Empire. But things have never been easy for the Jews. In the XVI century, Pope Paul IV established the Jewish Ghetto and started considering Jews as second class citizens. The Jews always had to wear yellow in order to be recognized and they could never have normal jobs like the Catholic Romans. Even when leaving the Ghetto, they would have several restrictions and to top it all, they were even persecuted in order to be converted into Catholicism!!
The word Ghetto in Italian is not considered disrespectful, it simply means “area”.Exclusiveissimo Tours
So the Jewish Ghetto was strictly controlled by the Pope till 1870, until Rome became the capital of Italy. However, the tragedy for the Jews didn’t end there. Due to the laws made by Mussolini, hundreds of Jews suffered and died between 1943-45.
The Jewish Ghetto has more than 200 mini memorials or ‘stumbling stones‘ (Pietri d’inciampo Italian, Stolperstein in German) that commemorate the victims of the lives lost during the holocaust. Even today it’s possible to read the names, dates of birth and places of death of all these people who died in Auschwitz. These stones are nothing but a horrific truth and reminder of one of the ways in which the Jews were treated.
Self-Guided Tour in The Jewish Ghetto
The Jewish Ghetto in Rome is in Central Rome and is quite tiny and compact. Being only a few minutes from Campo de’ Fiori, The Ghetto is easy to access. The walk towards Via della Reginella or via di Sant’Ambrogio is where the streets are covered with cobblestones. Although the Ghetto has been renovated after 1870, one can still get an idea of how it used to be in the earlier times.
Taking a self guided tour of the Jewish Ghetto is one of the best things to do in this area. Not only will you get a sense of place but also more time to explore Via della Reginella. Here one can still see Jewish symbols on the walls, for example the menorah. Some of the symbols are really very unique!
5 Things to See in Jewish Ghetto
1. Tempio Maggiore di Roma
An intriguing place to see on a self guided tour in Jewish Ghetto is the main Synagogue of Rome (Tempio Maggiore di Roma). It is one of the biggest synagogues in Europe, right by the Tiber river. It also happens to be the only building with a square dome in Rome!! The unique shape was given for it to be distinguished from the other round church domes in the Eternal City.
2. Jewish Museum of Rome
The Synagogue also houses the Jewish Museum of Rome that tells the story of the Jewish Roman community. Check more here.
3. Portico d’Ottavia
The Jewish Ghetto is very popular because of the ruins of the ancient Roman Empire. The Gate of Octavia (Portico d’Ottavia) is most famous and was built by emperor Augustus. He named and honored this hate in honor of his sister. It is possible to take the passageway from Octavia to to get closer to the Teatro Marcello.
4. Teatro di Marcello
Built in 13 BC, Teatro di Marcello is an open air theatre close to the Tiber river. Theatre Marcellus was named after Augustus’ nephew “Marcus Claudius Marcellus”.
5. Tempietto del Carmelo
Located in Piazza Costaguti in the Jewish Ghetto in Rome, Tempietto del Carmelo is a tiny chapel from the 18th century. The half oval dome is a major point of interest and one that should not be missed!
Teatro di Marcello is the only theatre still standing in Rome since the 1st Century BC!!EXCLUSIVEISSIMO TOURS
Where to Eat in the Jewish Ghetto
Of course nothing can speak more about the Jewish Ghetto than it’s food! In the heart of the Jewish Ghetto lies Via del Portico d’Ottavia. Here there are private Jewish schools and bars and restaurants serving Jewish/Roman cuisine.
If you’re looking for a place to eat in the Jewish Ghetto, definitely visit Ba’Ghetto to try their Kosher cuisine. Their Carciofi alla giudìa (Jewish artichoke) is simply mind blowing! This crisp deep fried artichoke is a must eat if you’re in the Jewish Ghetto because it shows how the Roman cuisine has been influenced by the Jews!
Another place to visit in the Jewish Ghetto is the historical bakery Boccione owned by a Jewish family. This bakery is so famous that every morning there are long lines. People love it for the biscotti, torte and especially for it’s mouthwatering crostata ricotta e visciole (sweet tart with ricotta cheese, sugar and cherry jam).
All in all, we highly recommend to see the Jewish Ghetto in Rome! Hope you enjoyed this self guided tour of the Ghetto and you visit it with us next time!
Exclusiveissimo Tours is owned by Elena and Assunta, Romans offering tours in the Eternal City. Exclusiveissimo offers historic tours, cooking classes as well as mosaic and shopping experiences. Next time you’re in Rome, book a tour with Exclusiveissimo to enjoy Rome like the locals!! Contact them- email@example.com
The Jewish community is the oldest and most special communtiy of Europe!exclusiveissimo tours
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One shouldn’t miss seeing the Fontana delle Tartarughe near the Ghetto in Rome!