PALERMO, ITALY - 22 MARCH 2017: A narrow and steep staircase leeds to a mikveh - or Jewish ritual bath - that was found below the courtyard of Palazzo Marchesi in the Giudecca, the ancient Jewish quarter of Palermo, Italy, on March 22nd 2017. Later in the 16th century, Palazzo Marchesi housed the offices of the Inquisition.
In 1492, Sicily’s Jews were banished from the island, the victims of a Spanish edict that forced thousands to leave and others to convert to Roman Catholicism. On Jan. 12, exactly 524 years to the day that the edict gave as a deadline for Sicily’s Jews to depart, Palermo’s archbishop, Corrado Lorefice, granted the emerging community the use of a deconsacrated oratory, to be transformed into Palermo’s first stable synagogue in five centuries. The synagogue will be located in what once was known as the Giudecca, Palermo’s ancient Jewish quarter