Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Travel Tuesday: A Medieval Synagogue in Córdoba, Spain

The entrance to the synagogue. The gallery above the entrance was reserved for women, who were kept out of sight of the men praying downstairs.

I just got back from Córdoba, a fascinating medieval town in southern Spain that was the capital of Islamic Spain for many years and remained important in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. A hallmark of the city during its Islamic rule was the large Jewish community, which got kicked out in 1492 when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled all the Jews and Muslims after completing the Reconquista.

Luckily a synagogue built in 1315, at the high point of Andalusian Jewish culture, has been remarkably preserved. Its decoration was common for Spanish synagogues of the time, incorporating complex plaster work in the Islamic style. After 1492, the building was used as a hospital and later a shoemaker's guild. At some point the plaster work was covered over, hiding it but also preserving it. In 1884, as the building fell into decay, some of this later mortar work fell away and the earlier decoration revealed. The synagogue was declared a national monument a year later.

The decoration is similar to a synagogue in Tangier I visited a couple of years ago. Click the link for more about that.

A closeup of the arch. Note the cross that was added later.

1 comment:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad it was declared a monument so it will be preserved rather than further destroyed.

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