Dohány Street – Great Synagogue
This is the greatest synagogue of the Hungarian Jews and also the greatest one in Europe besides the synagogue in Amsterdam. If we inspect the whole world, only the sizes of the Temple Emanu-El exceed it. You can find the Great Synagogue in the Dohány street, in district VII. This region was the old Jewish quarter and people living there have been still serving their traditions.
We can see that this building is a significant symbol of the Jews in Hungary. Moreover, it’s an important tourist attraction and has a main role in the cultural life of Budapest. The synagogue is the site of several classical concerts, organ concerts, or cultural festivals.
There are some interesting facts in connection with the Budapest Synagogue.
Have you known that the seats are amazingly valuable? Before the opening, lots of them were sold and only the owner can use them. They were so valuable that they could even be mortgaged! Nowadays, some of these seats are signed by a little metal plate with the owner’s name. For Jewish people, every kind of work is forbidden on Saturdays. Lighting in the building is also considered to work so this task is performed by not Jews. If lightning was mentioned, we should also tell some words about the chandeliers. They can be moved vertically. This makes changing of the bulbs easier and it’s also useful from the aspect of the acoustics. For example, during concerts, they are pulled higher.
The style of the building
It was built on the base of Ludwig Förster’s plans. He was a German architect and the designer of the synagogue in Bécs. The Great Synagogue was made in Moorish style. The whole work lasted for five years (till 1859) which is an extremely short period – especially if considering that the last great renovation was performed from 1991 to 1996.
Every synagogue must face East; this rule explains the fact that the entrance of the building a little bit differs from the direction of the street. The architect and sizes of this Jewish church are amazing but it’s worth seeing the minor details. The floor is covered with mosaic; the geometric patterns are in a marvelous harmony with each other.
The item called Ark of the Covenant has an important role in the religion. This one has a dipterous door which was made from wood from Israel. The end of its key forms the number five which refers to the five books of the Torah (the saint book of their religion). The route to the Ark of the Covenant is covered with elegant Persian carpets which are decorated with symbols of Jákob’s 12 sons (they are important characters in the Old Testament). In front of the Ark of the Covenant, there is the so-called Nér-támid which is an eternal flame.
Buildings in connection with the synagogue
Here the Jews had hold commemorations of many important events or anniversaries of the Hungarian and Budapest history.
There is an essential part of the building which is called the Synagogue of the heroes. It was designed by László Vágó and opened in 1931. This building serves as a memorial for the ten thousand Jewish soldiers who died in the first world war.
The Hungarian Jewish Museum shouldn’t be missed. This was built close to the synagogue and serves the historical memories of the Jews. The idea of the museum was initiated by Miksa Szabolcsi in 1896.
The cemetery near the synagogue is unique because cemeteries aren’t placed next to the synagogue in the Jewish religion. It was an inevitable solution for the horrors which happened during the second world war.
A park is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. Here you can see a memorial that portrays a weeping willow. This was partially paid by the Emanual Foundation which was initiated by Tony Curtis.
Opening hours of the Budapest Jewish Synagogue
You can’t visit the synagogue on Saturdays and on some other days such as 15th March, 23rd October, 1st November, 24th and 25th December etc.
We recommend visiting the website of the building because different opening hours are valid in the different parts of the year.