Jewish history in Rome goes back more than 2,000 years and there are many wellknown Jewish sites to see — including the historic Ghetto neighborhood, the towering main synagogue and Jewish museum on the bank of the Tiber river, and the remains of an ancient Roman-era synagogue in Ostia Antica.
Ha’aretz runs an article by Ariel David about a much less known site of Jewish heritage in the Eternal City — the site of the old Jewish cemetery, which was destroyed under Fascism to create a parade route as part of dictator Benito Mussolini’s urban redesign of the city and now is the site of the city’s Municipal Rose Garden, located on the Aventine Hill near the ruins of the Forum.
underneath the neatly arranged rose beds are the remains of hundreds or perhaps thousands of Jews. In 1645, Pope Innocent X gave the city’s Jews permission to bury their dead at the site, which became known as “L’Orto degli Ebrei” – the garden of the Jews – and for centuries it served as the community’s cemetery. […]
Authorities had pledged to move all of the remains and gravestones to the Jewish section of Rome’s main Verano cemetery, but in the rush to complete the parade route in time many tombstones were destroyed in place, and entire sections were not excavated.
The site was left untouched until after the end of World War II and the fall of fascism. In 1950, with the agreement of the Jewish community, the city created the rose garden. The pillar, with its plaque, was erected in memory of the garden’s Jewish past. In addition, the layout of the paths in the park’s upper section form a menorah, the Jewish seven-branched candelabrum.