The Jewish Community of Trieste

Trieste had been a free port of the Habsburg Empire since 1719, and at the beginning ot the 20th century it was home to a flourishing Jewish community consisting of more than 5,000 members out of a population of about 120,000. Jewish people are documented as having lived in the city since medieval times, and in 1771 the community had obtained a Patent from the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa of Austria granting them an unusual range of privileges, including religious freedom, ownership of real property, and “unrestricted exercise of the arts, crafts, and trades”.

During the 19th century, some Jewish families (Morpurgo, Brunner, Frigessi, etc.) played a crucial role in the city's economic development. Jews were among the founders or leading figures of many important firms and shipping and insurance companies, such as the Assicurazioni Generali, Riunione Adriatica di Sicurtà and Austrian Lloyd. In 1908, the Jewish community commissioned two of the most important local architects, Ruggero (1854-1920) and Arduino Berlam (1880-1946), to design a new temple sufficient with its growing needs. The internal decoration was the work of Piero Lucano (1878-1972).


TS_Tempio_facciata TS_Tempio israelitico_1912_frontespice

Postcard of the synagogue of Trieste, presumably on the occasion of its inauguration (1912)
Source: Rome, Centro Bibliografico dell'Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane: Archivio Fotografico F.A.C.E. 1930-1950
© Courtesy of UCEI

Title-page of the booklet celebrating the inauguration of the synagogue of Trieste, published as supplement in the “Corriere israelitico” (Udine, 1912)

The new synagogue, at the time one of the largest in Europe, was inaugurated in 1912 with an official ceremony attended by the main local authorities. A pamphlet was published illustrated with photographs by Pietro Opiglia (1877-1948), the official photographer of the City Museum of Trieste.



Interior of the synagogue of Trieste, 1911-1912
Source: Rome, Archivio Centrale dello Stato, Ministero della Pubblica istruzione, Direzione Generale Antichità e Belle Arti, Divisione II, 1940-1945, box 164, folder 2937
© su concessione del Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali e per il turismo, n. 345/2020

The old synagogues that had existed in Trieste since the mid-18th century closed down.


RI_Corriere Isrealitico giugno 1912

"Gazette of Trieste. The closure of the Temples"
Source: "Corriere Israelitico", 51, 2, 1915