MADRID ( Associated Press) – Archaeologists in Utrera, a city in southern Spain, confirmed Tuesday that they have discovered a hidden 14th-century synagogue inside a building that was successively converted into a church, a hospital and a bar. was given.
Archaeologist Miguel Angel de Dios told the press that “the first thing to effectively confirm is that we have the presence of a prayer hall”, after years of analyzing the walls and floors of the building.
He said, “The fundamental elements of the synagogue, such as the hall, which is behind us, or the perimeter benches that have come to the fore in this survey, already confirm that we are indeed in the prayer hall.”
The only reference to a Jewish temple was from Rodrigo de Caro, a priest and historian, who wrote in 1604 that a hospital stood on the site where Jews gathered to pray. A handful of medieval synagogues survive in Spain, including in Toledo and Córdoba.
The Utrara Synagogue was converted into a church in the 16th century, when all traces of the Jewish past were erased. His team hopes to identify the altar and ritual bath.
“We already have scientific certainty that we are now stepping on a medieval synagogue,” said José María Villalobos, the mayor of Utrera. “The state of conservation of the synagogue, while partial, is still exceptional.”
For some years now, Spanish cities with historical relics have attempted to attract people interested in the past of the Jews in Spain.
In 1492, the Catholic monarchs Isabel de Castilla and Fernando de Aragón decreed that 200,000 Spanish Jews would have to convert to Christianity or emigrate.
In recent years, Spain has tried to repair what the government calls a “historic mistake”. In 2015, the Spanish government allowed descendants of deported Sephardic Jews to apply for citizenship, and 132,226 did.