The Synagogue: Place of worship and meeting of the Jewish people.
The origin of the Synagogue of Córdoba is closely linked to that of the Jewish Diaspora, that is, the first exile of the Hebrew people. It was created to shelter the Jews, no matter their origin, so that they could gather to practice their religion. The Synagogue had two functions: as a sanctuary and school, where the Bible was studied. The wise men and rabbis were great experts in sacred texts and they were in charge of explaining it to the believers.
In Córdoba, in the times of Pope Innocent IV, shortly after the arrival of Fernando III the Saint in the city, the Jews who lived there decided to erect a big Synagogue. The works created great controversy in the city, but especially in the clergy, who, furious at the magnificence of the building and its proximity to the Main Church, complained to the Bishop, who addressed the Pope to explain what happened. Innocent IV enacted a papal bull asking for the works to stop.
But the Synagogue was not demolished because, when the bull arrived in Córdoba, Bishop Gutierre had already died. However, the Synagogue was demolished years later, since the Jews were not going to be allowed to construct such a big building for their religious activities. Instead, due to the obligation to satisfy their spiritual needs, another small one was built around the year 1315, under the orders of the master builder Ishaq Moheb, which is the one preserved today.
As was mentioned before, after the expulsion of the Jews by the Catholic Monarchs, the building became a hospital, called de la Santa Quintería, dedicated to curing rabies. In the year 1588, it became Chapel of Saint Crispin and Saint Crispian, patron saints of the shoemakers guild. Back then, the chapel was decorated with altarpieces, altars, and even paintings on the walls, which deteriorated the plasterwork and inscriptions from its initial time.
In the middle of the 19th century, it became a preschool until, in the year 1884, Rafael Romero Barros, father of the painter from Córdoba Julio Romero de Torres, studied the inscriptions found in the building with the help of Father Mariano Párraga. Soon afterwards, the Synagogue of Córdoba was declared National Monument, more specifically in the year 1885.
Félix Hernández, a significant character in the history of our city and to whom we will dedicate a section on our web, presented a project in 1928 for the restoration of the building. Félix led the restoration which, later on, had as a result the current state of the Synagogue, a very meticulous and respectful intervention which however could not prevent some inscriptions from disappearing.