A miqvah, or miqveh, is a Jewish ritual bath, used for purification. In 1492 the Jews were expelled from all territories of the kings of Spain and Aragon (which also Syracuse, with the whole Southern Italy, belonged to), the Jewish community of Syracuse, hoping to return home one day in the future, hid the access to its own mikveh, obstructing it completely.
That's probably why the miqvah of Ortygia, located 18 meters below ground level and fed by pure spring water, is one of the few Jewish ritual baths in Europe that still retains its integrity and charm. This is probably the oldest Jewish ritual bath in the whole Europe: the period of construction seems to be the sixth century AD, in the middle Byzantine period.
The Mikvah of Syracuse is today a main rectangular room, entirely carved into the limestone rock (18 meters deep) and supported by four pillars, with three tanks dug below the floor level. The water of the mikvah was meant to be necessarily "living water", which means that it needed to be able to flow in and flow out without any human intervention, and the constant infiltration of groundwater at that depth ensured that characteristic. This was the reason why the excavation of this environment penetrated so deeply into the rock. The Mikvah now belongs to a private Hotel, which organizes guided tours.
Address: Via Alagona 52
Winter timetable 11:00 to 13:00 and 16.00-19.00
Summer timetable 11:00 to 19:00
Guided tours every hour
Ticket Price € 5.00