IV Century-1492

We know that the Jews were a part of Toledan history since the last years of the Roman occupation. They came and existed (probably) peacefully with the Romans. Though the Jews were never the dominant group in Toledo, they were always an important part of the city. They became known as money-lenders, merchants of fine cloths and precious metals, and intellectuals and were generally well-respected by the other peoples of Toledo. Though the Jews didn't leave much of themselves behind, we do learn much about the people they lived with by how the cohabitation developed. The Visigoths, for example, were the first Christians in Toledo and forced the Jews to stop practicing their religion openly. The Muslims, in contrast, basically left the Jews in peace and only required them to pay taxes, just as they did to the remaining Visigoth Christians in Toledo. The Christians, however, had the most stormy history with the Jews. The last years of the Jewish occupation in Toledo were filled with violence and oppression until the Jews were finally expelled from the city and from Spain as a whole in 1492. 

Synagogue Santa Maria La Blanca is amazing place Located in the Jewish area of Toledo, Spain. It was built by the Moorish architects. Eventually, becoming a Christian Church.


The synagogue you see here, Santa Maria la Blanca, was constructed in the Eleventh Century. The Jews didn't possess an architectural or artistic style of their own, and they borrowed from the people that happened to be in power wherever they were living. In Spain in the eleventh century, Mudejar art was dominant, and so this synagogue was constructed in this style. 


Santa Maria la Blanca


Note the Muslim decorations above the columns and the absence of figures. Muslim art is traditionally geometric and agricultural, and human figures never appear because it is impossible to represent Allah. After the Christian conquest of Toledo, many of the Jewish synagogues were turned into Christian churches, Santa Maria la Blanca included. The altar in the second picture is a statement to this, as is the name ("Holy Mary the White"). Though this building has since become a synagogue again, the Christian altar and the name remain. Only in Toledo can you see a synagogue in Muslim style with a Christian altar named "Holy Mary the White."  

Santa Maria la Blanca