Touro Synagogue, dedicated in 1762, is the oldest synagogue in the United States and the only one that survives from the colonial era. The congregation was founded in 1658 by Sephardim, descendants of Marranos who fled the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal and who were themselves seeking a haven from religious persecution in the Caribbean. A trap door under the bimah is symbolic of their fear and apprehension. The synagogue was designed by noted colonial architect Peter Harrison and is considered one of the finest examples of 18th century architecture in America. Today, it continues to serve an active congregation.
Leashed pets are permitted on the grounds, but are not allowed in the buildings. Leashes must be no longer than six feet.