As a general rule, we would relate any synagogue to spiritual matters, since they are temples. But the one of El Transito has behind it, a big story about a treasure. A real treasure! One of them with coins, precious metals and other sorts of gems which set you for life.
The protagonists of this story are two men. One, Pedro I of Castilla, sometimes called El Justiciero (the Just) and others the Cruel, in any case, a guy with a strong character. The other one, Samuel ha Leví, his treasurer and trusted man for many years.
Back in the middle of the fourteenth century, Pedro was fighting with his bastard brothers, the Trastámara, and between the thousand and one dirty tricks they played against each other, the intelligence and good sense of the Jew Samuel was very useful. Favoured by the monarch, ha Leví was housed in a palace in the Toledo Jewish Quarter, he gained influence and power, and just like that, he made an enormous fortune.
Although the construction of synagogues was forbidden at that time, Samuel obtained permission from the king to erect, in 1357, this Sanctuary with a spectacular interior covered with inscriptions praising the generous king Pedro I and also the promoter of the work.
A few years later, after seeing the lifestyle of the treasurer and in response to the rumours that he hid fabulous treasures in basements near the synagogue, the sovereign began to suspect. The gossip said that he was dipping into the Royal fortune, and the distrust of Pedro the Just grew so much that one day the man shredded his clothes, turned green like the Incredible Hulk, and his other self, Pedro the Cruel, appeared.
He ordered to imprison and torture his friend until he talked, but the fact is that the treasure was never found, even when, a few years ago, some undergrounds were uncovered near the synagogue. So, the king was left without his advisor and with no answers until his days were ended after being stabbed by his stepbrother while Bertrand du Guesclin held him and said, “I neither put nor remove a King, but I help my Master”.
The synagogue, built by Samuel ha Leví, had its own fate, of course. When the Catholic Kings expelled the Jewish in 1492, they handed over the temple to the Order of Calatrava, which turned it into a church dedicated to Saint Benedict. But the name with which we know it today came later when a painting representing the Transit of the Virgin was placed inside it.
If we take the synagogue, on the one hand, the Transit on the other, we mix it together, and we shake it well, we get one of those mixtures so typical of a place that has always been, more than anything, a huge and fascinating architectural mix which you have to see.