Although today most of Rome's Jews live outside the Ghetto, the area remains the spiritual and cultural home of Jewish Rome, and that heritage permeates its small commercial area of Judaica shops, kosher bakeries, and restaurants. The Jewish Ghetto was established by papal decree in the 16th century. It was by definition a closed community, where Roman Jews lived under lock and key until Italian unification in 1870. In 1943–44, the already small Jewish population there was decimated by deportations.
The turn-of-the-20th-century synagogue, with its museum dedicated to the history of Jewish Rome, is a must for understanding the Ghetto. Tight, teeming alleys lead from there up to Giacomo della Porta's unmistakable Fontana delle Tartarughe; nearby is the picture-perfect Palazzo Mattei. Via Portico d'Ottavia is a walk through the olden days. Most businesses in the Ghetto observe the Jewish Sabbath, so it's a ghost town on Saturday. At its east end, the street leads down to a path past the 1st-century Teatro di Marcello. The Tiber River separates the Ghetto and Trastevere, with the lovely Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) in the middle. Cross the river via the Ponte Fabricio, the oldest bridge in Rome.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Palazzo Mattei di Giove
Graceful and opulent, the arcaded, multistory courtyard of this palazzo is a masterpiece of turn-of-the-17th-century style. Designed by Carlo Maderno,…Learn More >
Fontana delle Tartarughe
Designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1581 and sculpted by Taddeo Landini, this 16th-century fountain, set in venerable Piazza Mattei,…Learn More >
Teatro di Marcello
Begun by Julius Caesar and completed by the emperor Augustus in 13 BC, this theater could house around 14,000 spectators.…Learn More >