65. Synagogue of El Tránsito, Toledo
This synagogue was founded by the wealthy banker Samuel Ha-Levy in the 14th Century,
thanks to his goodrelations with King Pedro I ,whowas grateful forthe help he had received
in the recent wars.
The building mixes different architectonical styles. The great reading hall is a gothic con-
struction, decorated with rich and detailed Islamic plasters that have been very well pre-
served. At floor level, we can also see an Almohadic triple arch, designed to store the sacred
scriptures. The ceiling is covered by an interesting pattern of wood beams. The synagogue
also had a hall used as religious academy (which todays serves as a museum) and a court-
yard that was used for ritual baths.
Though after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the synagogue became a Christi-
an church, it retained many of its features through the centuries. Today, besides a fascinating
example of Jewish medieval architecture, it's a museum devoted to Sephardic Jewish cul-
ture. “Sephardi” was the word that designated Spanish Jews, that even today are considered
on of the branches of this people.
Image Credit: The inside of the synagogue, with the Almohadic arches. Image by Cruccone.