Located on a dead end street off the rue des Synagogues in the Beni Idir quarter of the Tangier medina, this synagogue was constructed in the 19th century by Moïse Nahon, a prominent educator and scholar from an influential Jewish family in Tangier. The synagogue ceased activity in the second half to the 20th century, and subsequently fell into disrepair until its restoration in 1994. It now functions as a museum.
The prayer room of the synagogue is accessible via a small courtyard at the end of the entrance corridor. The interior is elaborately decorated in an Andalusian style. Carved stucco walls are decorated with a repeating motif featuring ornamental embedded columns, trilobe arches, and arabesques with floral and geometric motifs. Perhaps most remarkable is the Arabic calligraphy repeated in three medallions vertically aligned below the superior lobe. Under this elaborate decoration, the lower portion of the wall is lined with rectangular, carved wood panels. The center of the prayer hall opens to a ceiling that is also elaborately decorated, with a large skylight in the center. The wooden ark and panels above it are decorated with Hebrew calligraphy. The carved wood lectern is on the southern side of the prayer area.
Wooden benches in the prayer area still bear brass plaques with family names. Ornate lamps are suspended throughout the synagogue and candelabras are placed on the wooden structures. The semi-circular windows above the entry portal and windows on each side feature a floral pattern in stained glass.
A stairway off the courtyard leads to an upstairs gallery that served as the hazara, or women's prayer area. There is no carved wood or stucco decoration on the walls of the second floor gallery. Instead, it is decorated with framed embroidery, tapestries, banners, and other artifacts donated by the Jewish community in Tangier.
--Michael A. Toler, Archnet Content Manager
Gharipour, Mohammad. Sacred Precincts: the Religious Architecture of Non-Muslim Communities Across the Islamic World. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
Cohen, Yolande, Jean-Claude Lasry, and Joseph J. Lévy. Identités sépharades et modernité. Québec: Presses de lUniversité Laval, 2007.
"Moshe Nahon Synagogue at Tangier, Morocco." Archive | Diarna.org | Moshe Nahon Synagogue at Tangier, Morocco. Accessed October 22, 2017. http://archive.diarna.org/site/detail/public/320/.
Synagogue Moshé Nahon (Translated)
Synagogue Moïse Nahon (Alternate)
Synagogue Nahon (Alternate)
Moise Nahon Synagogue (Alternate)
Masaat Moshe (Alternate)
Masat Moshe (Alternate transliteration)
ca. 1868, 1994 renovation
Rue Sinagogue, Tangier, Tanger - Tétouan - Al Hoceima, Tanger Assilah
Tangier at the Crossroads: Memories of Cosmopolitanism and Dreams of Technological Modernity
This presentation by Michael A. Toler, Archnet Content Manager, looks at the development of the city of Tangier during two periods of extremely rapid transformation approximately a century apart. The first was at the beginning of the 20th century around the time during which Morocco was divided up by French and Spanish colonial powers into two protectorate zones. Although this colonial system changed the administrative and military landscape in the area surrounding the city, Tangier itself continued being a de facto International Zone until its formal declaration as such in 1923. The second period has been ongoing since shortly after Mohammed VI assumed the throne after the unexpected death of Hassan II in 1999. There are many parallels between the development of the city during these two periods. While the first period saw the introduction of railways, airports, and roads suitable for vehicular traffic, the second period brought a construction boom and the first significant upgrade to those facilities since Moroccan Independence in 1956. During both periods a growing population expanded the city well beyond its existing limits. The beginning of the 20th century saw an influx of foreign nationals as well as wealthier residents marking the growth of the city beyond the confines of Kasbah and walled medina. The last two decades have also seen the construction of new neighborhoods to accommodate rapid demographic expansion, as well as massive investments in infrastructure upgrades. Authorities have also declared a new "City Center" that is so far from the traditional medina as to be outside the "New City" of the Protectorate era. The current expansion of the city is enabled by the central government once again making tremendous investments and embracing a city that had largely been neglected since independence. In many ways, Tangier is cast as paradigmatic of modern Morocco. While these two periods are over a century apart and mark distinct periods in Moroccan history, a comparative analysis of urban developments during each is insightful. This presentation explores the dynamics of Tangier's transformation since the early 20th century and poses questions regarding the implications for the city's residents. The current expansion of the city is enabled by the central government once again making tremendous investments and embracing a city that had largely been neglected since independence, largely in an effort to attract investment from abroad, once again making Tangier an international zone, albeit it one under Moroccan sovereignty. Yet in many ways, Tangier is cast as paradigmatic of modern Morocco as a whole. While these two periods are over a century apart and mark distinct periods in Moroccan history, a comparative analysis of urban developments during each is insightful. This presentation explores the dynamics of Tangier's transformation since the early 20th century and poses questions regarding the implications for the city's residents.