The Dohany Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue, is certainly an important site to visit during any trip to Budapest, Hungary. There are many reasons to visit the synagogue including its size, architecture, and history. The synagogue complex is also home to the Hungarian Jewish Museum, Heroes’ Temple, Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, and the Jewish Cemetery. There can be long lines to get into the Dohany Street Synagogue, but it is definitely worth the wait. You will undoubtedly walk away with a mix of emotions as it is haunting, sad, and yet a sense of human nature’s ability to overcome.
Along with Shoes Along the Danube Bank, walking through the Hungarian Jewish Museum is a stark reminder of how horrific the Jewish community was treated during World War II. The Dohany Street Synagogue is located in the Old Jewish Quarter of Budapest and was part of the Jewish Ghetto during the war. It is important for everyone to understand and remember the atrocities that occurred. In addition to the museum, the Jewish Cemetery, which would not normally be located next to the synagogue, is where over 2,000 people were buried toward the end of the war. There is a statue of a weeping willow in the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park in the rear courtyard that has the names and tattoo numbers of those whose lives were lost there.
The inside of the Dohany Street Synagogue is truly quite beautiful. Built in the 1850’s in a Moorish design, the synagogue holds up to 3,000 worshipers making it the second largest synagogue in the world and the largest in Europe. The seats on the ground floor are for men and the upper gallery has seats for women. There is also an ornately decorated dome within the synagogue as well as large chandeliers above the center aisle. There are also gothic influences as well, including the stained glass windows that line the main chamber.
We spent about two hours touring the Great Synagogue and it is definitely worth at least that amount of time. There are also many wonderful restaurants and shops located in the Old Jewish Quarter, so you should also spend several hours wondering through the narrow side streets. The Dohany Street Synagogue is an important landmark in Budapest and Hungary in general. We visited on a rainy day, which made the experience even more impactful.