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Roman Ghetto

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza Mattei, 5, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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expert
Ambra
Local tour guide
"Visit the Roman Ghetto just before lunchtime to blend in with the locals heading to their favorite trattorias for classic Jewish-Roman dishes; you won't find the usual tourist crowds and you'll get the authentic neighborhood vibe. Also, be sure to explore the back streets where you'll find artisan shops that have been there for generations, offering unique souvenirs that you won't find in the usual tourist spots."

What is Roman Ghetto?

The Roman Ghetto, known in Italian as the 'Ghetto di Roma', holds a bittersweet narrative woven into the heart of Rome. This district has been the center of Jewish life in Rome for more than five centuries. The area captivates with its narrow lanes, traditional shops, and an atmosphere that showcases a blend of sorrowful history and revitalized culture. Quaint is a word often used to describe the cobbled streets and rustic facades, but the resilience of this neighborhood goes much deeper than its charming aesthetics.

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Established in 1555 by Pope Paul IV, the Roman Ghetto was originally a walled quarter with gates that were locked at night. Now, it's a vibrant area frequented by locals and tourists alike. Its boundaries stretch around the Tiber River's bend in the historic center of Rome, and while the walls are no longer there, the imprint of the past and the tight-knit community spirit lingers.

History of Roman Ghetto

The history of the Roman Ghetto is a tapestry of religious, social, and political threads. Established officially on July 14, 1555, when Pope Paul IV issued the papal bull 'Cum nimis absurdum', this confined quarter became the only area of the city where Jews were permitted to live. Life within the Ghetto was challenging, to say the least, with overcrowding, poverty, and flooding from the Tiber being frequent woes.

Despite such adversities, the Roman Jews managed to maintain their traditions and strong cultural identity. The Ghetto walls were torn down after the unification of Italy in 1870, and in 1888, much of the area was demolished to build new modern structures, as part of a city-wide effort to modernize Rome. However, during the World War II, the community faced another dark period when many Roman Jews were deported to concentration camps.

It wasn't until after the war that the area started to see a resurgence and reinvention. Today, the former Ghetto area is one of the most prominent reminders of the historic presence of Jews in Rome. The community’s enduring spirit is felt through its surviving historic sites, such as the Synagogue of Rome and the Jewish Museum.

Why is Roman Ghetto Important?

The Roman Ghetto holds an important place in the tapestry of Rome, not just to its inhabitants but as a testimony to resilience and survival. It's a symbol of the Jewish culture's enduring presence in the city, and a locus of Jewish life, having preserved unique traditions and a dialect for centuries. The community's ability to maintain a strong cultural identity, even under severe restrictions and adversity, is the testament to the human spirit that visitors find so compelling.

Moreover, it provides invaluable insight into the Jewish-Roman culture which has shaped, and been shaped by, the broader Roman society. The Roman Ghetto shows how a persecuted community can evolve and become an integral and vibrant part of a city's fabric, bringing a rich layer of history, cuisine, and traditions that contribute to Rome's diverse identity.

Things to Do & See at Roman Ghetto

The Roman Ghetto offers an array of experiences that are both enriching and humbling. One can start by visiting the Great Synagogue of Rome. With its striking squared dome, it is a symbol of Jewish emancipation after the ghetto's walls came down. Inside, the Jewish Museum tells the story of Rome's Jewish community, with artifacts that reflect the highs and lows of Jewish life throughout Roman history.

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The streets themselves are a living museum; a stroll through Via del Portico d'Ottavia, via del Tempio and, of course, the Piazza delle Cinque Scuole, is akin to a walk back in time. You'll find kosher restaurants offer traditional Roman Jewish cuisine – tasting the famous 'carciofi alla giudia' (Jewish-style artichokes) is an absolute must. Then, there's the seasonal outdoor market in Piazza Mattei, where one can immerse in the local hustle and find products unique to the area.

Do not miss the Fontana delle Tartarughe (Tortoise Fountain) in Piazza Mattei, an exquisite example of Mannerist sculpture. And for those with a curious mind, guided tours often reveal hidden stories, secret corners of the area, and lesser-known facts about the Ghetto’s centuries-old history. Being such an integral part of Rome's history, the Roman Ghetto is truly a place where one can see, taste, and feel centuries of history all in one visit.

Frequently asked questions

What is the history of the Roman Ghetto?

The Roman Ghetto was established in 1555 in Rome, Italy, and it was one of the oldest Jewish ghettos in the world. It was an area where Jews were compelled to live by a decree of Pope Paul IV. The walls were torn down in 1888, but the historical and cultural significance remains to this day.

What are the main attractions in the Roman Ghetto?

The main attractions in the Roman Ghetto include the Great Synagogue of Rome, the Jewish Museum of Rome, ancient Roman ruins, traditional Jewish-Roman trattorias, and the picturesque streets that capture the area's unique history and culture.

Where is the Roman Ghetto located in Rome?

The Roman Ghetto is located in a small area in the district of Sant'Angelo, close to the Tiber River and the Theatre of Marcellus, in the historic centre of Rome.

What kind of food is the Roman Ghetto known for?

The Roman Ghetto is famed for its unique and traditional Jewish-Roman cuisine, which includes dishes like 'Carciofi alla Giudia' (Jewish-style artichokes), 'Pasta con Ceci' (pasta with chickpeas), and various kinds of fish, pastries, and sweets.

Are there guided tours available in the Roman Ghetto?

Yes, there are guided tours available that provide insights into the history of the Jewish community in Rome, including visits to landmarks, historical sites within the ghetto, and the nearby archaeological findings.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza Mattei, 5, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps