Segovia Old Main Synagogue - History and Facts | History Hit

Segovia Old Main Synagogue

Segovia, Castile and Leon, Spain

Segovia Old Main Synagogue was a synagogue until 1410, when it was seized and converted into a church.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Segovia Old Main Synagogue

Segovia Old Main Synagogue (Antigua Sinagoga Mayor), now known as the Convent of Corpus Christi or Iglesia del Corpus Christi, was used as a synagogue from the 14th century until 1410, when it was seized and converted into a church. It remained as such until 1889 when it was destroyed by a fire. Very little remains of the original building, it mostly having been restored in 2004. Today, it is a convent.

Segovia Old Main Synagogue history

The Greater Synagogue was one of the five synagogues in Segovia. The synagogue is a small building, due to the prohibition existing in medieval Spain to surpass the Christian temples in elevation. It is rectangular in shape and lacks exterior ornamentation. From the middle of the 13th century, Pope Innocent IV established that synagogues could not exceed churches in height.

The Segovia Old Main Synagogue is found in records for the first time as a synagogue in 1373 and functioned as such until 1410 when the building was confiscated by Christian authorities.

By 1419 the building had been converted into a church and dedicated to Corpus Christi. In 1421, the bishop of Segovia handed the building and premises over to the Monastery of Santa María de Párraces. The monastery in turn sold it to two brothers, Manuel and Antonio del Sello, who transformed it into a convent for the Sisters of Penitence. The former synagogue still forms part of that convent.

A terrible fire in 1899 reduced the building to its structural lines. For this reason, only five of the original arches of the arches that separated the naves remain, although some authors believe that there were up to seven of these arches. There are a series of watercolours and photographs which testify to the dilapidated state in which the whole was left.

Segovia Old Main Synagogue today

It was completely restored to the appearance it had before the fire thanks to the photographs and descriptions made previously. The main arches of the naves are topped by an upper floor.

The Corpus Christi church opened its doors in September 2003 after two years of work. It took more than a hundred years before the building was reopened to the public, looking similar to the one it had before the fire.

Getting to Segovia Old Main Synagogue

Visitors enter via a quiet courtyard and the entry fee is 1 euro. The site is located in the Jewish Quarter close to the Plaza Major and Plaza Major bus stop.