Jewish Cemetery of Pisa

Cemetery Attractions

The Jewish cemetery of Pisa is located in an attractive position just outside the section of city walls surrounding Piazza dei Miracoli, which is why in the twentieth century numerous Jews from other cities wanted to be buried here. It is one of the oldest preserved Jewish cemeteries still in use. It was purchased in 1674, and followed three previous burial grounds in the history of the Jewish community in Pisa. The oldest one dates back to the thirteenth century and was next to the Porta Nuova (New Gate) where epigraphs have been found carved into the city walls. A second one, listed in 1330 and perhaps used until the sixteenth century, was further south, on land belonging to the da Pisa family. The third, mentioned in surveys from 1618 and 1622, was also along the western walls, to the left of Porta Nuova. It seems to have remained in use for a short period until 1674, when the Grand Duke Ferdinando II requested the land for another purpose and offered the area of the current cemetery in exchange.
The cemetery houses tombs from every period, most of them single graves. The oldest ones were simple consistently with the Jewish tradition, often belong to Jews of Iberian origins, descended from Spanish and Portuguese exiles who had been expelled from their countries in the late fifteenth century and welcomed a century later by the Grand Duke Ferdinando I with his so-called “Livornina” letters of invitation. In the late nineteenth century, when there was a tendency to assimilate with the dominant culture’s customs, elaborate monumental tombs in the popular styles of the time became more common.
A plaque on the wall of the hall of rituals commemorates the Jews who were deported and killed in the Nazi death camps, along with the victims of the Casa Pardo Roques massacre.