Tourist Attraction in Córdoba: Sinagoga de Córdoba
The synagogue of Cordoba, built in 1315 in the Jewish quarter of Cordoba and now a museum, is one of only three synagogues still existing in Spain from the time before the expulsion of 1492 (the other two are in Toledo). The facade, on a small courtyard, is brick. From the entrance you enter an atrium from where you enter the prayer room and, through a staircase, to the upper floor gallery. The high prayer hall is square in shape decorated by a complex network of stucco reliefs with geometric patterns, plant forms and Hebrew inscriptions. The Aron ha-Qodesh was located in a niche against the eastern wall. The gallery overlooks the upper floor through three large windows. The other rooms of the structure, adjacent to the prayer hall, probably housed ritual baths and a Talmudic school. Until 1492, the date of the expulsion decree of the Jews, Spain was the center of Jewish life in Europe. The synagogue of Cordoba was built in Moorish style by Isaq Moheb to serve the needs of the local Jewish community. The construction began on September 20, 1314 and was completed on September 1, 1315. These data can still be read in an inscription preserved inside the temple. In 1492 with the decree of expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the synagogue was confiscated by the Catholic authorities. The Moorish stucco decorations were covered with plaster and with time lost its memory. The building first became the hospital of Santa Quiteria for hydrophobic people, then in 1588 it was used as the chapel of San Crispino and San Crispiano, patrons of shoemakers. In the nineteenth century, the synagogue housed a kindergarten. It was then that the ceiling was replaced with a barrel vault and plaster, because the old roof was falling apart. In 1884 a Catholic priest, Don Mariano Parraga, rediscovered the Moorish decorations under the plaster of the walls, when part of the synagogue walls of mortar had collapsed. Rafael Romero Barros, artist and art critic, immediately understood its importance and, on his own initiative, the following year, in 1885, the synagogue was declared a national monument and its restoration started. Other restoration works were carried out in 1928 by the architect Félix Hernández, then in 1977 and, finally, in 1985, on the occasion of the celebrations of the 850th anniversary of the birth of Maimonides. The Cordoba Synagogue has been in recent years also occasionally used for Jewish worship, but is normally open to the public as a museum. It is one of only three synagogues still existing in Spain from the time before the expulsion period (the other two are in Toledo). It remains a fundamental testimony of the genius, traditions and culture of the Jews of Cordoba.