The Mattancherry Synagogue, also known as the Paradesi Synagogue, is a historic Jewish place of worship located in the neighborhood of Mattancherry in Kochi (Cochin), Kerala, India. It is one of the oldest active synagogues in the Commonwealth of Nations and is a significant landmark of the Jewish community in India.
The synagogue was built in 1568 by Sephardic Jewish settlers who came to Kochi from Spain, Portugal, and the Middle East. These settlers were known as the Paradesi Jews, which means “foreigners” in the local language. They were granted land and privileges by the Cochin Raja, and they established their community in Mattancherry.
The Mattancherry Synagogue showcases an exquisite blend of various architectural styles, including traditional Jewish, Malabar, and colonial influences. The building is a simple yet elegant structure with a sloping roof, wooden beams, and white-washed walls. The interior features stunning hand-painted Chinese tiles and chandeliers that add to its charm.
The synagogue houses several important religious artifacts and historical documents, including the copper plates granted by the Cochin Raja in the 4th century AD, which record the privileges given to the Jewish community. The synagogue also holds ancient scrolls of the Torah and other religious texts, which are used during religious services and ceremonies.
The Mattancherry Synagogue is a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world who come to witness its historical and cultural significance. The synagogue, along with the neighboring Jew Town, is also known for its antique shops and spice markets, making it a vibrant and culturally diverse area to explore.