Reconstructing Jewish Florence

Virtual 3D model of ghetto

Editorial Staff
December 1, 2017 - 16:05

Over 100 years after it was demolished, Florence’s Jewish quarter, near piazza della Repubblica, is enjoying a virtual revival.

During a recent conference at the Department of History of the University of Florence, a three-dimensional model was presented that showed the ghetto’s buildings, streets, houses and shops in miniature form.


The 3D reconstruction is one phase in the Ghetto Mapping Project by the Medici Archive Project. The aim is to reconstruct the economic and social fabric of Florence’s Jewish quarter, the third oldest ghetto in the world.


Grand Duke Cosimo I established the ghetto of Florence in 1570 in the center of the Tuscan capital. While officially erected to gather all the Jews of the Grand Duchy under the aegis of Counter-Reformational tenets, the ghetto of Florence was a product of a well-planned, private real-estate investment of the Medici family.


Program director Gabriele Mancuso commented, “The relevance of this initiative lies in its potential to unearth a body of knowledge that has been buried for centuries in Italian archives. Our challenge it to bring this piece of Jewish heritage back to life.”


To narrow the gap between the academic world and Florence’s Jewish history, an agreement has been reached with the University of Florence to grant selected students the opportunity to do training at the Medici Archive Project. The program will be presented officially in March 2018 at the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center, as well as in June at Tel Aviv University, in Israel.


The program, which is expected to result in an important publication in the next few months, recently received the financial backing of Eugene Grant, president of a New York-based real estate investment and development firm.

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