Sephardic Museum of Toledo

Museo Sefardí was created by Royal Decree in 1964 and is housed in a historical building, the synagogue of Samuel ha-Leví, in the Jewish Quarter in Toledo. In 1968 it was officially named “The National Museum for Hispanic-Hebraic Art”. It is a national museum, which preserves the Hispanic-Hebraic legacy and is governed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

The changing needs of the museum required the building to undergo renovation between 1984 and 1994. In 2001 there was another significant renovation programme of the building, which led to its reopening on 17th November 2004 by HRH the Prince of Asturias.

In the past few years, the museum has mainly focused on facilitating access to those visitors with disabilities. We have also introduced new ways of communicating with our visitors and have made the museum in to a web 2.0 space.

Address

Sephardic Museum of Toledo
Calle de Samuel Leví, 2
45002 Toledo
Spain

Get in touch

+34 925 22 36 65
www.mecd.gob.es/msefardi/en/home.html
Transito Synagogue in Toledo is one of the most important pieces of Moorish architecture. It has a rectangular base, four-pitched outer roofs, and walls made of dry stone and brick. Inside, the Great Prayer Hall has a beautiful and detailed wooden beamed ceiling made of conifer. The decoration of the plasterwork along the tops of the walls is outstanding for its attention to detail; the inscriptions and the geometric detailing are truly impressive. The work reaches its peak on the wall of the Torah ark (hejal), which is the most important place in the synagogue, as is where the cabinet for the Torah scrolls are kept.

The Hebrew inscriptions are some of the most beautiful and most representative of the mediaeval period.
They are divided into two categories:

- Historical inscriptions, which include paeans to King Pedro I and Samuel ha Leví,.
- Biblical inscriptions, which include texts from the Psalms, the Book of Chronicles, Kings, and Exodus.

There are also some ornamental inscriptions in Arabic, as well as various heraldic shields referring to the crown of Castile and Leon on both of the sidewalls of the Torah ark.
The Spanish term “sefardíes” of Sephardim is used specifically for the descendants of the Jews of Sepharad from their expulsion at the end of the Middle Ages up until the present day. Sefardic families and the Israel Antiquities Authority donated the main group of our pieces of work. The rooms of the museum, as well as the rest of the synagogue, were formally the archives for the Orders of the Knights of Calatrava and Alcántara. The layout of the Museum is based on archeological and artistical remains of sefardic communities. It attempts to offer the widest possible overview of the history of the Jews in Spain, from the former communities in the near East, to the latter ones under the Catholic Monarchs.

From the collection

Hejal y artesonado
© Museo Sefardí de Toledo, David Blázquez.