Siena’s current synagogue is in via delle Scotte, at the bottom of via degli Archi: it was inaugurated in 1786, and is the result of the extension and restoration of the original building. It was designed by the Florentine architect Giuseppe del Rosso during the ghetto era, so no part of the façade indicates it is a synagogue.
The synagogue’s prayer hall on the first floor has a highly decorated interior: walking through the large hall leading to it, where there is a permanent exhibition of ritual precious artefacts and objects witnessing the life of the community. These include the beautiful chair of Elijah in carved and inlaid wood, donated by Rabbi Nissim in 1860.
The prayer hall is in neoclassical style with rococo elements. Pilasters with Ionic capitals decorated with garlands are against walls; in the central sector a high barrel vault the Stone Tablets of the Law are displayed.
The interior is a central plan: the aron is on the opposite side to the entrance, decorated with marble columns and a tympanum interrupted by a medallion bearing the words “Know before whom you stand”. An inscription says that the aron was offered by the Gallichi family in 1786. The tevah – a round platform enclosed by a balustrade in walnut – is slightly earlier (1756). Long rows of pews face it positioned along the longer sides of the hall.
On the top floor, in the women’s gallery there is an educational centre for temporary exhibitions, workshops and meetings.