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Jewish Ghetto

Know-it-all traveler toolkit to visit the Jewish Ghetto in Rome: restaurants, food, history and art treasures

Hidden since the far year 1555 inside its old walls filled with centuries of history, the Jewish community of Rome lived enclosed in that one which is considered as the earliest ghetto in the world after that one instituted in Venice. Left unaltered until the 19th century and conserving all the historic evidences from the ancient archaeological ruins to contemporary art, the Jewish Ghetto nowadays represents the other side of the authentic Roman culture to be rediscovered and a human tragic past to be remembered. This travel toolkit will allow you then to reinforce your knowledge and get ready your sensitivity in order to fully experience the enormous heritage still alive in the neighborhood. An overview on highlights and values of the Kosher cuisine will be served and a sum-up of the lesser known events animating the artistic and religious life of the ghetto is finally introduced, to fully understand the tradition and identity of this everlasting piece of Rome heart, not to be forgotten.

Jewish Ghetto practical info

Where is the Jewish Ghetto located and how to get there?

The Jewish Ghetto is located in the historic Rione Sant’Angelo in Rome, on the eastern side of the Tiber river bank, in front of the Tiberine island. The Jewish neighborhood has developed in the area surrounded by the Capitoline Hill, Largo Arenula, Lungotevere de’ Cenci and Teatro Marcello, but the ancient nucleus of the Jewish Ghetto was very much narrower and originally bordered with via del Portico d’Ottavia to the north, piazza Giudea to the west, the Tiber river to the south and S. Gregorio della Divina Pietà to the east.

The Jewish Ghetto is easy to reach and to explore on foot, thanks to its limited extension and its strategic position in the historic center of Rome. The northern side of the neighborhood is next to Largo di Torre Argentina, not far from Piazza Venezia, whereas its southern side is accessible also from Trastevere, passing through the Tiber island.

The easiest way to reach Trastevere is to take the tram number 8, which frequently departs from Largo di Torre Argentina near piazza Venezia and stops at Viale di Trastevere. From there, you can walk on foot to better appreciate the historic feel of the district.

Directions from:

Vector Line code Stepping in at Stepping off at Number of stops
Bus H Stazione Termini (Piazza dei Cinquecento) Foro Olitorio (82197) 5
  • Vector : Bus
  • Line code : H
  • From Stazione Termini (Piazza dei Cinquecento)
  • To Foro Olitorio (82197)
  • 5 stops

Best times and days to visit the Jewish Ghetto

To feel and live the authentic history and traditions that the Jewish Ghetto still bequeaths, a proper period of the year to visit the neighborhood is during the week at the end of June, when the traditional “Festival Internazionale di Cultura Ebraica” is organized every year, featuring the Night of the Kabbalah with cultural events on literature and cinema topics, music shows, theatre performances, extraordinary free openings of the new synagogue and food tastings. Always check the official Ebraica Festival facebook page for updated dates and programs.

Another perfect day to visit the Jewish Ghetto is on September 15, to celebrate the European feast day of the Jewish culture, when other cultural initiatives are organized at the Portico d’Ottavia and at the Museo Ebraico di Roma. Detailed and up-to-date events program is available on the Centro di Cultura Ebraica official website.

Moreover, to skip tourist crowds and appreciate a slightly colder weather in Rome, a fascinating time of the year to visit the Jewish Ghetto in Rome is in fall-winter, when the Jewish festival of Hannukkah. According to the Hebrew calendar, this intense festival is celebrated for eight nights and days and traditionally starts on the 25th day of Kislev which period vary every year, approximately occurring between late November and late December. Especially late in the evening, it is possible to be charmed by the candelabrums lights shining behind the windows overlooking the historic streets of the neighborhood and be moved by the sacred candles of big menorah with nine branches lighten up in front of the Tempio Maggiore. What’s more, during these days the Jewish cooking features delicious typical fried dishes.

view of the portico di ottavia at night
piano concert inside the theatre of marcellus archaeological site

Avarage cost

The average costs to visit the Jewish Ghetto are very low because the archaeological remains are freely accessible. The only monument whose visit requires a ticket is the Museo Ebraico Romano and the annexed Tempio Maggiore.

The elevated number of restaurants allow to find good spots at a fairly middle-low prices, even if the neighborhood is a way more exclusive and expensive than the wider and more frequented Trastevere.

What to do in the Jewish Ghetto?

The cultural wealth of the Jewish Ghetto offers the opportunity to enjoy wide-ranging visit experiences, from the archaeological remains dating back to Ancient Rome, to the antiques or contemporary art galleries passing by the fundamental historic heritage conserved at the Museo Ebraico di Roma.

An essential aspect to fully understand the history and identity of this neighborhood is embracing and savoring its culinary traditions, enough represented by the good presence of food spots and restaurants.

the teathre of marcellus archaeological site viewed from the jewish ghetto
outdoor tables along via del potico d'ottavia

Jewish Ghetto food and restaurants

The traditional and characteristic soul of the Jewish Ghetto has earned popularity also among the tourists, so many food spots and restaurants increased their numbers. Nowadays it is possible to have a break or a meal at any time in the neighborhood, where you’ll have the chance to try the best Jewish cooking in the whole Rome.

Nevertheless, not every restaurant you’ll find in this area can be properly considered a place where the authentic Kosher cuisine is served. Only the restaurants which own the certificate of accession to the religious Kasherut dietary laws and are subjected to the supervision of the mashgiach as for ingredients and procedures can be deemed as real Kosher restaurants.

Among the Kasherut rules, there is the severe ban of mixing or consume meat and milk together, so the Jewish restaurants are usually distinguished as meat restaurants or milk restaurants just to avoid this kind of contamination. The “K” mark which characterize the kosher food is a quality mark for anybody who is seeking lactose-free, healthier or vegetarian products, increasingly gaining popularity also outside the Jewish community.

Some Jewish dishes typical of the “cucina giudaico-romanesca” (Jewish-Roman cuisine) are the fried artichokes called “Carciofi alla Giudia (or Giudea)”, the “stracotto”, which is extra cocked meat such as beef in tomato sauce usually prepared on the occasion of the Shabbat, the “concia di zucchine”, which is made of fried and marinated zucchini with onion and mint, and the “tortino”, a savoury pie made of endive and anchovy.

The best food spot to try in the Roman Jewish Ghetto is the “forno Boccione”, a historical bakery which has been active for three hundred years and it is managed by three women belonging to the same family. The forno Boccione is renown in the whole Rome for its speciality, that is the “crostata di ricotta e visciole”, a Jewish traditional pie made of “ricotta” (Italian chees) and sour cherries.

fried artichoke called carciofo alla giudia or giudea
crostata ebraica cake made of italian ricotta cheese and sour cherries

Jewish Ghetto walking tours

The relatively limited extension and the high density of ancient monuments and interesting buildings openly visible to the passers-by make the Jewish Ghetto the ideal and most pleasant area to experience a walking tour.

Many tours are organized to visit the neighborhood, even by the Museo Ebraico di Roma institution, but a personal tour guide is the best company to examine and deepen all the facets of the Jewish Ghetto. Otherwise, we recommend you to take our free self-guided tour kit to dive yourself first-hand in this hidden side of Roman life.

Jewish Ghetto on your own: you can choose to linger on what interests you the most at your convenience as you walk on your own to the discovery of the Jewish Ghetto, deciding either to firstly step in in that beautiful church where a masterpiece by one of the greatest artist is conserved or to sneak into a palace courtyard looking for archaeological treasures.
Pros and cons:

  • No need of booking
  • Freedom from the group tour schedule
  • Take more time for what you like more
  • No expert answers to your curiosities
  • No guided routing between the sites of interest

Venture into Jewish Ghetto art and history with our self-guided itinerary

Jewish Ghetto art historical guided tour: an art history expert guide could take you to a surprising walking tour through the local museums and churches, or to a night tour in order to unveil the intimate enchantment of this neighborhood. All sites of interest in the Jewish Ghetto are open to independent visitors, but some hidden and astonishing places deserve to be fully unveiled and understood thanks to an expert guide.

  • Expert guide shows you hidden gems
  • Explanations tailred on your interests and curiosity
  • Trustworthy guided routing
  • Local guide lets you perceive the authentic soul of the Jewish Ghetto streets
  • Booking needed

Contact us to experience the Jewish Ghetto history and traditions with our private tour

Jewish Ghetto food and drink group tour: discovering the Jewish-Roman cuisine dishes is the most involving and pleasant way to dive into the Jewish immense cultural heritage. You’ll unveil the secrets of the religious Kasherut dietary laws and understand the traditional soul of the Jewish Ghetto thanks to a Roman local who will allow you to taste typical recipes from beef meat to vegetarian specialities such as fried artichokes, not missing the delicious pies and sweets.

  • Expert guide shows you hidden gems
  • Explanations tailred on your interests and curiosity
  • Trustworthy guided routing
  • Local guide lets you perceive the authentic soul of the Jewish Ghetto streets
  • Booking needed

Contact us to flavour the Jewish Ghetto Kosher cuisine with us

the portico d'ottavia monumental propylaeum
view of temple of apollo sosianus remains at night

Jewish Ghetto History and Art

Ancient Roman monuments in the Jewish Ghetto

The Jewish Ghetto still features invaluable remains of Ancient Roman monuments, since it was instituted in 1555 in a southern portion of the Campus Martius, already set up during the Roman Republic era.

The precious architectural evidences are located in the same archaeological area. Considered as the earliest and most capacious theatre in Ancient Rome following the Theatre of Pompey, the Theatre of Marcellus was dedicated around 13 or 11 BC by Augustus near the newly re-built Portico d’Ottavia, the monumental passageway dating back to 146 BC which already incorporated the previous Temple of Juno Regina and the Temple of Jupiter Stator.

The three Corinthian columns which are now visible next to the Theatre of Marcellus once belonged to the Temple of Apollo Sosianus instead, dedicated in 431 BC and re-built in 34 BC by Gaius Sosius. Located in the same site on the east side of this temple, another building called Temple of Bellona was firstly founded in 296 BC and dedicated to the Roman goddess of war Bellona by Appius Claudius Caecus on the occasion of the third Samnite War. Today, only podium remains connected to the Augustan reconstruction survive, together with the monument plan reported by the Ancient marble map of the Forma Urbis Romae.

theatre of marcellus and the overlapping palazzo savelli
portico d'ottavia passageway

Discover the ancient treasures of Trastevere churches with our private tour

Jewish Ghetto Synagogue

The so-called “Tempio Maggiore” or “Sinagoga nuova”, deemed as the latest Jewish synagogue in Rome, was built by the architects Osvaldo Armanni and Vincenzo Costa (1899-1904) in the area belonging to one of the four blocks designed in the dismissed Jewish Ghetto at the beginning of the 20th century and it was inaugurated in 1904.

A medieval house located in Vicolo dell’Atleta, civic number 14, in Trastevere, he previous area where the Jewish community lived until the 13th century, has been maybe wrongly identified as the only ancient Jewish synagogue preceding the Tempio Maggiore survived in Rome, since it features an inscription in Hebrew characters upon the central column, even if it represents in any case a rare trace left in the history of the Jewish worship.

medieval house with inscription in hebrew characters
tempio maggiore or sinagoga nuova - jewish sinagoguge

Discover the ancient treasures of Trastevere churches with our private tour

The history of the Jewish Ghetto

The area where the Jewish Ghetto is located belongs to the Rione Sant’Angelo, which constitutes the south far end of the Campus Martius and it is considered the smallest among Rome “rioni” (meaning “districts”).

In the Roman Republic era, this area was already set up around two main roads: the one nowadays called via del Portico d’Ottavia, more near to the Tiber river, where porticos and temples were located along the northern side of the Circus Flaminius bordering on the street, and the one partly corresponding nowadays to via delle Botteghe Oscure, northern boundary of the whole rione, which recalls the orientation of the central Campus Martius.

During the Augustan Age, the area was definitely arranged and was enriched by entertaining buildings such as the Theatre of Marcellus and the Theatre of Balbus, progressively acquiring a monumental aspect.

axonometrie reconstruction of the portico d'ottavia
reconstruction of the portico d'ottavia propylaeum

Explore Piazza Trilussa gems with our self-guided itinerary

In the Middle Ages, the Rione Sant’Angelo gained importance due to its strategic location and the presence of the bridges crossing the Tiber island. Fortified edifices were then built, as the Palazzo Orsini on the Theatre of Marcellus, while the via del Portico d’Ottavia kept representing the main road axis as part of the medieval “via Peregrinorum”.

The progressive transfer of the Jewish community of Rome from Trastevere to this rione through the Pons Fabricius, for this reason called also “Pons Judaeorum”, begun in the 13th century.

tiberine island in giuseppe vasi's engraving
map of the jewish ghetto around 1577 by antoine lafrery

In 1555 the papal seal by pope Paul IV Carafa instituted the Jewish Ghetto in the Circus Flaminius area, following that one created in Venice a few years earlier. The Roman Ghetto was surrounded by walls and it became obligatory residence for all the Jewish people living in Rome, so that sever crowding and connected urban decline levels were reached. For example, imposing six or seven floors buildings overlooked very narrow streets.

The rione preserved itself from the urban changes involving the city of Rome in the 16th century and after the arrangement of piazza di Campitelli at the beginning of the 17th century it kept itself essentially unaltered until the end of the 19th century.

piazza di pescaria in giuseppe vasi's engraving
piazza giudia in giuseppe vasi's engraving

Around 1811, during the jurisdiction of the Roman Republic under the French Directory, the Portico d’Ottavia and the Jewish Ghetto were included among the areas to be redeveloped. The portals were already demolished whereas the overall Jewish Ghetto was definitely opened by pope Pius IX in 1848.

The overcrowding situation of the ghetto improved starting from 1870 when, after the “Brecia di Porta Pia” (breaching of the Aurelian Walls and entry of the Bersaglieri soldiers), the city of Rome officially became part of the newly unified Italy.

via rua painted in ettore roesler franz watercolor
historical view of portico d'ottavia in ettore roesler franz watercolor

The 1873 city master plan established massive demolitions at the foot of the Theatre of Marcellus and in the Jewish Ghetto area, dismissed starting from 1888 and substituted by four blocks without any connection with the surrounding network of streets and buildings.

The following urban interventions, such as the insulation of the Theatre of Marcellus between 1926 and 1932, the expansion of via delle Botteghe Oscure around 1938, affected only marginally the area, even if they deeply altered the aspect of the surrounding environment.

workshop in the jewish ghetto in a photo taken by giuseppe primoli
historical photo of via del portico d'ottavia around 1860

On the 16th of October 1943 at dawn, Nazi soldiers surrounded the neighborhood and captured 1023 Jewish people who were forced out of their homes. A couple of days after, the civil prisoners were deported on a train heading to Auschwitz concentration camp and only 16 people survived to this extermination. A commemorative plaque in via del Portico d’Ottavia remembers the terrible tragedy of the Nazifascist oppression and deportation, to which the Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th is dedicated through various initiatives and events organized until the month of February in the whole city of Rome.

Nowadays, the Rione Sant’Angelo still preserves its original and composite urban pattern, holding the countless historic layers of Rome.

world war two memorial remembering the jew deportation
commemorative coblestone nestled in the jewish ghetto street floor
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