The Byzantine-Moorish architecture is rather dramatic, with two domed towers looking almost Russian in flavor. The ornately decorated interior is dazzling and indicative of the major financial support the synagogue has received from Hungarian Jews all over the world.
Adjacent is the Zsido Muzeum, or Jewish Museum, displaying a number of interesting artifacts that illustrate Hungary's Jewish history.
Results 1-7of 7 Reviews
May 23, 2006
From journal The Great Budapest
May 2, 2006
From journal The Great Budapest
Cinnaminson, New Jersey
July 11, 2005
The largest in Europe synagogue is a very imposing building of yellow brick with red Mudejar décor. It was built in 1854-59, when almost a quarter of Budapest population were Jews. At one time, close to 3,000 people would attend the service at the same time. Inside you can see two balconies of dark wood above the main floor. The torah arch is a large white Mudejar arch with gilding, and behind it is a large organ. The cupola and ceiling are covered in squares decorated with multicolored Sephardic designs with pink background red/green/blue/purple colors of the patterns. Walls are covered with beige/yellow marble without decorations. Modern stained-glass windows with stars of David bring light into this large but now rather empty synagogue.
In the yard of the synagogue, you can visit the cemetery, which is a collection of plates with names of all Jews who died during WWII in Budapest. Over 3,000 people who died in the ghetto were buried here. There is also a Holocaust memorial in the shape of a willow with leaves and branches turned down towards the ground, as if crying for those who died. Each leaf has a name written on it on both sides. This is a very somber and striking monument, and it doesn’t leave anybody untouched. Seventy percent of Hungarian Jews died in Auschwitz. Of 184,000 Budapest Jews, only 85,000 lived to see the end of WWII.
There is also a large museum of Jewish history with a nice collection of candlesticks, Torah scrolls, Rimmonim, goblets, Torah breastplates, books in Yiddish, menorahs, Seder plates, various items for prayer, bridal decorations and Kettubahs - most items date back from 17th to 19th centuries. The last several rooms are devoted to the memory of those who died during WWII – here you can see pictures of the concentration camps, clothes worn by people in the Ghetto and camps, portraits of people who helped Hungarian Jews like Raoul Wallenberg and Angelo Rotta. There are also pictures of some of the fascists who were seized in 1945, after the liberation, and executed for their crimes against humanity.
There was also a wonderful temporary exhibition: Herzl (1860-1904) – which had a large number of original documents and photographs of Theodor Herzl as well as other leaders of the Zionist movement, creation of "Die Welt", photos of the first settlements in Palestine, and a signed copy of the first edition of "The Jewish state".
From journal Travels in Hungary - Budapest, Part II
May 1, 2002
From journal Hungary: Return to Budapest
by Eve Carr
November 19, 2001
On a recent trip to Budapest, for example, I was planning to concentrate on research activities that related directly to food and wine. But, then I was presented with the opportunity to tour the historic Dohány Utca, the Dohány Street Synagogue. It would have been easy to say "I'm not Jewish," or "I don't know anything about synagogues," but, instead, I welcomed the opportunity to become familiar with this, Europe's largest synagogue and, regardless of its size, an outstanding architectural treasure. As a result, my trip to Budapest was even more fascinating.
This historic synagogue dates from the 18th century, even though it was difficult for Jews to get there because they were persecuted. If you’re Jewish, you’ll enjoy this rich part of your cultural past, but, even if you are not Jewish, you will marvel at its exotic and rich architecture. Towering onion-shaped domes, with gold-plated ornamentation, ancient frescoes, rich mosaics, massive chandeliers and, throughout, an ornate Moorish Eastern luxurious richness adds a mystical quality about it that transcends time.
Just as fascinating is the adjacent Jewish Museum, with its rich collection of artistic items used in religious services, as well as the dramatic Holocaust Weeping Willow, by Imre Varga, in memory of the estimated Hungarian 600,000 Jews who were killed by the Nazis during World War II. Each leaf is engraved with the name of a victim. If you have heard of actor Tony Curtis, you’ll be interested to know that he helped fund this memorial.
Particularly touching is the memorial to Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish Diplomat who came to Hungary to save Jews and lost his life as a result of it—and the stones that people have laid on this memorial to honor him.
This was the first time I have been in a synagogue and, it inspired me to learn more about the Jewish religion and the history of the Jewish people. When you’re in Budapest, don’t miss the opportunity to see this rich architectural treasure.
From journal I Brake for Budapest
by Diane P
July 18, 2001
The Great Synagogue contains a Jewish museum with recent and historical pieces(driedels, schuls, prayer books). The pieces are clearly marked and the ceremony with which they are related is explained. There is a section in the back dedicated to the Holocaust and its effect on the Hungarians. There are wall size photos of the ghettos, Jewish stars and striped pajamas. The section is simple yet very moving. The Synagogue itself is located next to the museum. It is the world's second largest synagogue and was built in 1859. It is striking to see plopped down among the grey shops and office buildings along Dohany Ut. The interior is beautifully decorated in gold. Be aware that there is a metal detector and a guard to search bags before entering the Synagogue grounds.
St. Stephen's Basilica on Bajcsy Zsilinszky is also decorated in gold. A large dome rises in the center of the Cathedral. The caretakers have done a wonderful job of restoring the gold and murals that adorn the church walls and dome (you can compare the completed sections with smaller altars that have not been done; they are blackened and chipping). The relic of St. Stephen's right hand can also be found in the Basilica inside a small altar that is carried through the town in a proceession on August 20 (the anniversary of St. Stephen's canonization).
Though very crowded with tourists on the day we visited, the Basilica is large enough to maneuver around the large groups. Also be aware of small children begging for money outside the Basilica.
From journal Two Days in Budapest
London, United Kingdom
March 11, 2001
It is easily reachable from the eastern end of the shopper street of Vaci Utca. To the right leads down to the Danube and the Elisabet bridge, to the left will take you across Lajos Kossuth Utca and the synagogue. It's outside appearance is striking with ornate red brick and a faintly oriental dome.
Before you enter there will be stringent security checks. When we were there a young man asked very searching questions and if he wasn't happy with the answers denied access. This is quite understandable as ROUGH GUIDE notes there have been firebomb attacks in the past. A small skullcap is given to visitors and must be worn upon entering the synagogue.
The interior is colossal with bubble lighting on the ceiling and rows and rows of pews. Above the altar is a vast dome encased in blue tiles which gives in an eastern feel. That was what so memorable about Budapest, it was Europe, but once in a while a wisp of the east could be detected.
Next door was a museum with priceless judaica down the ages on display. There was also a room devoted to the Holocaust. It was quite blatant in naming the guilty partners and there was a picture of Fascist Admiral Horthy standing next to Hitler and some harrowing pictures of the concentration camps. The synagogue stands on the old jewish ghetto and outside is a garden that was built over mass graves from 1944-45.
I would recommend this synagogue to anyone who is interested in Eastern Europe. And being much less crowded then similar attractions in Prague, it is well worth a visit.
From journal Budapest: my favourite city