This striking synagogue is both an important piece of Livorno’s Jewish history and a spectacular site to behold.
Visit Livorno’s Sinagoga Ebraica to see a historic site, an example of modern architecture and a symbol of the city’s Jewish population. Although the original synagogue was destroyed during World War II, the current synagogue continues its spirit and remains a hub of the Jewish community.
The original Sinagoga Ebraica was built in 1603. Since the 17th century, Livorno has been known for its large Jewish population. In an era when Jews faced widespread persecution across Europe, Livorno provided a home where they could observe their faith freely and own property. As the city’s Jewish population continued to grow, the synagogue was enlarged and made more elaborate. Throughout Europe, the synagogue was admired for its splendor and was frequently visited by royalty and world leaders.
It is estimated that up to 90 percent of Livorno was destroyed during World War II and unfortunately, Sinagoga Ebraica was no exception. A bomb from an Allied air raid hit the building and almost completely demolished it.
Construction on the current synagogue began in 1962. Note that it is located on the same site but built in a completely modern style to symbolize moving forward with hope for the future. The structure was built to resemble the tabernacle from the Book of Exodus, and is dotted with hexagonal windows.
Walk through the main prayer room, a massive light-filled space with windows covering its walls. At the far end of the room is the spectacular Aron Kodesh, exquisitely carved in antique gold. The ceiling is painted gray with small sparkling holes that give the illusion of glittering rain.
The synagogue houses the Jewish Archives and the offices of Livorno’s many Jewish organizations. Religious services are held regularly along with concerts, lectures and other events.
Sinagoga Ebraica is located in the center of Livorno, just a 5-minute walk from Piazza Grande. The synagogue is also within walking distance of other landmarks, including Fortezza Nuova.