Rome walking tour in the district of the old Ghetto

3 December 2013
Rome short walking tour around the Tiber Island
22 December 2013

Rome walking tour in the district of the old Ghetto

Rome walking tour in the district of the old Ghetto il Ghetto di Roma

The area of the Jewish Ghetto of Rome is between the river Tiber, Piazza Venezia and Piazza Navona. It includes narrow streets and small paved squares  with caracteristic small black lava stones (San Pietrini). While walking around this peaceful area it is possible to see fountains, palaces, churches, Roman remains, old fashioned shops and typical roman ,kosher restaurants.

The Jewish Ghetto is one of the oldest and most interesting areas of Rome where it is still possible to experience the real Roman character and folklore.

The walk begins from the Synagogue which was erected between 1899-1904 and is charachterized by a style named „Assyrian Babylonian”. It can be visited by entering from the Jewish Museum, which is in the basement recounting the history of the oldest Jewish community in the world outside the Holy Land, the Jewish Community of Rome.

Official guided tours can be arranged contacting

Continuing the walk towards Via del Portico D’Ottavia, once „Via Rua”, you will soon see the Roman remains of the ancient fish market and the beautiful architecture of Teatro Marcello (Marcello’s Theater), the three tall columns that survived from the Temple of Apollo Medicus (built in 433 BC), and the ruins of the Temple of Bellona (built in 236 BC dedicated to the God of War).

In the 16th century a palace was built by the powerful Orsini family  in the caves of the theatre.

Even though the theater was commissioned by Julius Caesar, it was inaugurated by Augustus in 11 BC, and dedicated to the memory of his nephew Marcellus (Octavia’s son) who died at the age of 19.

Like many ancient buildings in the city it was pillaged and its marble resused to restore new bulidings, palaces and churches.

Via del Portico D’Ottavia is where from 1556 onwards under the the papalcy of Pope Paul IV the jews of Rome were segregated and relocated. It is still today a meeting place for the Jewish community.

The walls of the Ghetto were torn down in 1848. The steet takes its name from the huge quadriporticus of Octavia,which  originally had about 300 columns, incorporating  the Temples of Jupiter and Juno (23 AD).

According to the latin writer Plimy, before the Portico D’Ottavia, there was another building erected there by Quintus Caecilius (146 BC) filled with greek statues representing the generals of Alessandro Magno (Alexander The Great).

Il Ghetto di Roma 2In 755 AD. the propyled, still well preserved, became the monumental entrance to the church of Sant Angelo in Pescheria (St Angel of the Fishmarket). In this church from 1584  jews were forced to listen to a Christian ceremony every Saturday. From the 12th century the portico was used as a fish market, hence the name of the church, in Pescheria.

Going back to Via del Portico D’Ottavia, heading towards the end, along the way to the right at the civic number 13 you will find Palazzo dei Fabii, a 15th century building, with one of the best preserved internal courtyards that is possible to find in Rome retaining its original loggia.

In the last block of buildings, where the street gets larger, there is the house of Laurentius Manlius (1468) with a big inscription ,its facade is decorated with ancient sculptural fragments, including a sarcophagus with the portrait of the dusts of the dead. Next to this building you will find Palazzo Costaguti and its little chapel where the Roman church tried to convert the jews.

Here you can find an excellent even if slightly small  jewish bakery, a meeting point for the jewish community where you can taste special biscuits baked  straight from a hot  oven.

From Via del Portico D’Ottavia, walking along Via della Regimella, you will pass by buildings,of  no less than 6 floors with low-ceilings  that were typical in the old ghetto, its possible to reach Piazza Mattei.

Overlooking a little square, is Palazzo Costaguti, freschoed by Guercimo, and Palazzo Mattei (16-17th century), its courtyard with a double loggia and  staircase decorated by colossal Roman busts, statues, sarcophagi, antique relics all of them in excellent condition making it one of the most curious sights of the city.

The churches of Santa Maria in Campitelli and Santa Caterina dei Fumari, the Palaces of Albertoni and Capizucchi are other jewels of this peaceful residential and monumental area where it is still possible to find the spirit of Ancient Rome.

For guided tours or other information please contact:

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