Santa María La Blanca Synagogue

The Santa María La Blanca synagogue is a Mudéjar construction built in 1180 and converted into a church in the 15th century.

What to see:

The Synagogue of Santa María La Blanca is in the heart of the old Jewish quarter of the city of Toledo. It was built at the end of the 12th century and was given its current name when it was converted into a church of the Order of Calatrava at the beginning of the 15th century; it now serves purely as a monument that can be visited and in which cultural events take place.

What to do:

The synagogue has a basilical structure with five narrow naves stretching from east to west, the central one being higher than the rest and separated by arcades with large unpointed circular horseshoe arches, which suggests a certain Christian Mozarabic influence.

The arcade of large arches is supported on octagonal columns of brick with a tiled plinth. Over the arcades there are blind arcades of lobed arches decorated in plaster with vegetable motifs and geometric latticework with an unmistakeable Almohadic accent, the knots forming a Star of David.

It is covered by a classical Mudejar larch roof. The framework of the central nave is a collar-beam roof with a carved finish, clearly the product of local Toledan artistic carpentry.

In Santa María La Blanca the most outstanding feature is its thirty two pilasters, with its capitals decorated with carved pineapples and rhomboidal scrolls, where no one is the same as the other.

In the chamfered form of the pillars and the sebka or grid of rhombuses disposition of the capitals we find ourselves once again with a contribution from Almohadic art. It has been thought that there is a divergence in this work between the brick structure of the walls and pillars and the plasterwork covering it, as if they were the product of different hands, or perhaps the latter, somewhat later than the building, corresponds to the restoration work carried out after a fire that occurred in 1250. In any event, it is clear that the work was performed by Moorish stone masons and bricklayers, and is not, therefore, the work of Jews.

Whatever the case, it seems probable that it was built to satisfy the religious necessities of a flourishing community that was growing in view of the influx of Jews to the city from Al-Andalus after the Almohadic invasion.

C/ Reyes Católicos, 4 45002 Toledo
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