Land of the Sirens
Hercules, Pompeii, the Rothschilds and pizza, Naples is full of history, mystery and surprises! Naples or “new city” is the third-largest municipality in Italy, after Rome and Milan. Its historic city center is the largest in Europe,a World UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the oldest cities in the world dating back to the Bronze Age. In the immediate vicinity of Naples are numerous culturally and historically significant sites, including the Palace of Caserta and the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Known mainly for its stunning architecture, Naples is also synonymous with pizza, which originated in the city, as well as with the distinct sound of the mandolin, a musical instrument developed here.
The Jewish presence in the city goes back at least 2,000 years. In 1159, when Benjamin of Tudela visited the city, he noted that 500 Jewish families lived here. In 1492, many Jews who were expelled from Spain came to Naples, where King Ferdinand of Naples protected them. In 1831, a small group of Jews settled in the Maltese Cross Hotel where one of the rooms served as a synagogue. In 1841, the Rothschild family set up an office in Naples. By the 1920s, Naples’s Jewish community had almost 1,000 members. A few were saved from German deportation, hidden by villagers in the area of Caserta. Today the community numbers about 200.The synagogue in Naples is located on Via Cappella Vecchia in the Palazzo Sessa. It was inaugurated in 1864 thanks to the efforts of Baron Rothschild.
Naples has much to offer but for fans of Greek mythology it is the “Land of the Sirens”, these fabled sea nymphs who lured sailors to their death, forcing Odysseus to be tightly bound to the mast so as not to be tempted! If you come for mythology, the Jewish history, pizzas or piazzas, Naples is sure to catch your interest and leave a lasting impression.
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