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Avraham Zacuto Luso- Museo Hebraico

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Avraham Zacuto Luso- Museo Hebraico


Basic Information

Location Rua Dr. Joaquim Jacinto, 78 2300-577 Tomar
Country Portugal
City Tomar

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Website http://www.jewish-heritage-europe.eu/portugal/heritage-heritage-sites
Geographical Coordinates 39.60337,-8.41368


The Synagogue of Tomar is the best preserved of the medieval synagogues of Portugal. It is located in the historic centre of the city of Tomar, and houses a small Jewish Museum.

The synagogue of Tomar was built in the mid-15th century by the thriving Jewish community of the town. From the outside, it does not look different from the other houses in the street. The current main entrance, facing North, did not exist in the Middle Ages. It was the Gothic pointed arch facing East - the direction of Jerusalem - that used to be the main entrance to the temple. Inside, the synagogue is a square-shaped hall with three short aisles divided by four pillars supporting Gothic vaulting. The capitals bear geometric and vegetal motifs. Excavations in a building beside the synagogue revealed the remnants of a mikveh (ritual bath for women). With the expulsion and forced conversions of Portuguese Jews in 1496, the synagogue served as a jail, church and later as storage house. In the 1930's, the old synagogue was bought by the Polish scholar Samuel Schwarz, who restored the building and donated it to the Portuguese government with the condition that it should be turned into a museum. Since 1939 it functions as the small Jewish Museum Abraão Zacuto (Abraham Zacuto), with several medieval tomb slabs from the whole country. Among its best exhibits is a stone plate from the Lisbon synagogue, dated from 1308 and bearing a greeting inscription. Other well-preserved, pre-expulsion synagogues can be found in Híjar, Toledo, and Córdoba.

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