Architecture Around the World

Synagogue of Samuel Levi / Transito

Toledo, Spain

The Sinagoga del Tránsito (or Synagogue of Samuel ha-Levi) was once an important house of worship for Toledo's large Jewish population. A 14th-century building, it is an excellent example of Spanish Jewish art especially noted for its superb stucco Hebrew inscriptions.


Founded and financed by Samuel Levi, the Sinagoga del Tránsito was built in 1357. Samuel ha-Leví Abufalia was treasurer and adviser to King Pedro I of Castile, and it is said that Levi imported cedars from Lebanon for the building's construction - à la Solomon when he built the First Temple in Jerusalem.

The bell tower was added by the Christian religious order of Alcántara, who took over the building after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492.

In the 18th century, it was a hermitage dedicated to the Tránsito de Nuestra Señora (Our Lady's Transit, meaning Mary's assumption into heaven), which accounts for its present name.

During the war against Napoleon, the synagogue became a military barracks. In 1977, it was declared a national monument and it is now a museum.

- Sacred Destinations  12/10


Details, starting with the roof, below:

Terra cotta roof tiles

Bell gable - added by Christians

Main entrance


Alternating blind arcade

Calligraphy ... Multifoil arches

Horseshoe shape arches

Horseshoe shape arches
Museum  signage
Adjoining the main hall is the Museo Sefardí (Sephardic Museum) of Jewish culture in Spain which opened in 1971.

Photos and their arrangement © 2010 Chuck LaChiusa
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