Europe's largest Jewish temple was built in the 1850s but lived its most traumatic history during the Nazi occupation of the 1940s
Exotic-looking, with a Highly Emotional History
Also known as the Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest's premier Jewish temple is without a doubt also one of the city's most emotion-evoking spots. The so-called Great Synagogue is quite literally so, being Europe's largest and the world's second largest. Built between 1854 and 1859 according to a neo-Moorish design by architect Ludwig Förster, who was inspired by the Alhambra palace in Granada, it seats nearly 3,000 worshippers (divided into 1,492 for men and 1,472 for women). However, it's more than facts and figures which lends this house of worship such momentous importance. The traumatic events during World War II, when Dohány Street was on the edge of the city's Jewish ghetto, have converted this temple into a symbol for the entire Jewish community. The Nazis imprisoned more than 70,000 Hungarian Jews in this ghetto and also occupied the synagogue itself, which ended up suffering major damage (not fully rectified until many years later, when a seven-year restoration campaign concluded in 1998). Here, too, is the Jewish Museum, the Heroes' Temple, the Budapest Jewish cemetery and the Tree of Life, a memorial in the form of a weeping willow dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust - on which more than 400,000 names are inscribed.