News of a group of Jewish merchants that followed the Maritime Republics of Pisa and Genoa in the 12th century. Catalan and French Jews arrived later with the Aragonese Conquest. Around 1340 the Jewish population had reached about one hundred, three hundred by 1492, when all Jews were expelled from Sardinia as well.
The community lived in the San Nicola District, close to the walls between the Porta Nuova (New Gate) and Porta Utzer (Utzer Gate) both demolished in the 19th century. The juharia was established close to what is now the Santa Croce Descent (Discesa Santa Croce): here you could find merchants, small time traders and craftsmen, as well as doctors and teachers. All in all the group was well settled and part of the city’s economic life and there were no particular tensions with the Christians. The heart of the juharia was in the synagogue square, built in 1383, locked in between via Maddalena and via Macao. The building was probably where the Santa Croce Oratory was built after the Expulsion, and where now the archiepiscopal Seminary and the John Paul II Hall now stand.
In Sassari, ancient Jewish finds are exhibited at the Sanna National Museum, a gravestone, oil lamps with a menorah and a seal. Some are from Alghero and Porto Torres.
Jews have been in Sardinia for a long time: in Ancient times (1st Century of the ME), soon after the arrival of Jews in Rome. Historians say that in the year 19 of the Modern Era, Emperor Tiberius sent 4,000 forcibly conscripted Roman Jews to Sardinia to fight brigandage and to mine ore. At the end of conscription many went back to the mainland, but some settled on the island as archaeological ruins dating back to the 3rd-5th centuries show, and specifically the catacombs of Saint Antioch in Western Sardinia. The silence shrouding the Jewish presence in Sardinia lasted for about eight centuries. Their presence was mentioned again in the 14-15th centuries with the with the beginning of the Aragonese Conquest until the 1492 Expulsion. The most important communities were in Alghero, Cagliari and Sassari.
Discesa di Santa Croce, via Maddalena, via Macao
Museo nazionale archeologico ed etnografico “Giovanni Antonio Sanna”
Via Roma, 64 – 07100 Sassari