Secret synagogue found in Portugal

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 |    

A 16th century synagogue was discovered during renovations of a building in the port city of Porto, Portugal. The synagogue was built at a time when Portugal’s Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism or risk being burned at the stake. It was hidden behind a false wall in a four-story house that a Roman Catholic priest, is converting into a home for his old-age parishioners. A carved granite repository, about 5 feet tall, arched at the top and facing east toward Jerusalem was the ark where medieval Jews kept their Torah scrolls. Pieces of decorative green tiles in the ark confirmed the age of the ark when experts dated their glazing method. “'It’s quite exciting. You feel part of history when you see it,” said Aaron Ram, Israeli Ambassador to Portugal.

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