Budapest’s Great Synagogue is the second largest synagogue in the world. It was built in the mid 19th Century (that’s the 1800s), a time of relative calm for Europe’s Jewish population. Jews were being accepted into the larger society, and that merging of cultures can be seen in many ways including architecture. The Great Synagogue on Dohány Street looks a lot like a church! Why do you think that is? It doesn’t just look like a church, though. The Great Synagogue also has components of Islamic architecture. Take a look at Budapest on a map — why do you think the architects of the synagogue were influenced by the Muslim world? This mix of cultures is why I love teaching Social Studies.
The front of the Great Synagogue. The round window in the middle is called a rosette — commonly seen in churches, like St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle.
Here’s the rosette up close. Notice the Stars of David in the window.
The main room of the synagogue. Two aisles on the sides that are separated from central nave by columns. Again, this design is commonly seen in churches.
The pews came with “kneelers”, another part of the synagogue commonly seen in churches.
I see a cross in the ceiling of this synagogue, do you?