Synagogues in the Piemonte Region
Alessandria, Asti, Carmagnola, Casale Monferrato, Cherasco, Cuneo, Mondovì, Saluzzo, Torino, Vercelli
Casale Monferrato (Al)
“The Roman catholic, apostolic religion is the only State religion. All other existing faiths are tolerated in accordance with the Law”. This is article number 1 of the Statuto Albertino (Albertino Statute) sanctioning equal rights to the Jewish community in the Piemonte region for the first time in 1848. The presence of the community underwent stages of good luck alternating with bad dating as far back as to the beginning of the 15th century and proven by the many synagogues – authentic jewels of art and culture - present on the territory. Beginning with the grandiose project commissioned by the Jewish community in Torino to Alessandro Antonelli in 1848. A building that has never been occupied by a synagogue but is now the symbol of the city: the Antonellian Mole.
Torino’s current house of worship, designed by Enrico Petiti, was created in 1884 in the San Salvario district. A synagogue designed in a Moorish style to which a small temple was added in 1974. Examples of the baroque style in Piemonte such as the lacquered Tevah in light blue and gold and the Aron supported by elegant Corinthian columns are contained between vaulted ceilings and unfinished walls in brick.
Not far from Torino, in Carmagnola, tourists can visit a synagogue considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. A place of discreet charm, the last survivor of the ancient 18th century ghetto. The temple, located on the last floor of the building (as tradition commands), reveals its magnificent baroque style wooden furniture. The precious octagonal Tevah dating back to the year 5526 (1766 according to the Gregorian calendar) and the finely carved Aron. The synagogue at Cherasco, in the Langhe area, looks like a typical “ghetto synagogue” hidden inside a home on the via Marconi.
18th century woodwork and décor, numerous lamps and wall mirrors, the rooms host a small “schola” (school) in which the Torah is taught. The synagogue in Cuneo was also built in the heart of the ghetto with a library filled with ancient texts in Hebrew on the first floor. There is a Sacred Arc carved in Venetian Baroque style in the prayer room. There is a trace of an unexploded bomb that hit the pulpit during a service.
Mondovì and Saluzzo, also in the Cuneo province, maintain signs of Jewish presence dating back to the 18th century. Main evidence is visible in the Monferrato area at Asti, Alessandria and above all Casale where the synagogue built in 1595 celebrates the prestige of the Jewish community in the life of the town. The Jewish inscription “This is the doorway to heaven” dominates the heaven painted on the ceiling almost to seal the wealth of wooden decorations and rococo stucco. Aside from the house of worship, visitors can also tour the Museum of Jewish Art and History as well as the Museo dei Lumi (Lamp Museum) that hosts a unique collection of contemporary art Cahanukkiots created by world famous artists. Finally, an interesting example of Middle-Eastern style building can be admired in Vercelli, based on a style introduced by the construction of the Leopoldstädter Tempel in Vienna in 1858, which, before long, inspired similar projects throughout Europe. The temple, constructed in 1878 to the design of the Vercelli architect Giuseppe Locarni, required the demolition of an entire block of the ancient Ghetto on which the previous place of worship stood.
Date of last update: 02/04/2012
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