New Synagogue, Berlin

The Neue Synagoge (New Synagogue) in Berlin was built between 1859 and 1866 and destroyed in the mid-20th-century.

Now a meticulously restored landmark, the New Synagogue is an exotic amalgam of styles, with a Moorish feel. Its bulbous, gilded cupola stands out in the skyline.

advertisement

History of the New Synagogue

When the New Synagogue was consecrated on Rosh Hashanah in 1866, it was the largest synagogue in Europe, with 3,200 seats.

Capped with one of the most spectacular domes in Berlin, the New Synagogue's design was inspired by the Moorish architecture of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

The Neue Synagogue was damaged on Kristallnacht (November 9, 1938), when Nazi looters rampaged across Germany, burning synagogues and smashing the few Jewish shops and homes left in the country. It was desecrated and set on fire, but avoided major damage thanks to the efforts of Wilhelm Krützfeld, the local police chief.

The synagogue was, however, heavily damaged by Allied bombing in 1943. It was then torched by Berliners in 1944 and finally demolished by the Communist East Germans in the 1950s.

It wasn't until the mid-1980s that the East German government restored this great landmark, but the bulk of the synagogue was never rebuilt. In its place is an empty plot of land on which is marked the original layout of the building, providing a disturbing insight into the destruction of a way of life that used to be.

What to See at the New Synagogue

Now functioning primarily as a museum, the New Synagogue houses an exhibit on the history of the building and its congregants, with fragments of the original architecture and furnishings. Sabbath services are held in a modern addition.

The main part of the exhibition consists of recovered architectural fragments and remnants of the interior furnishings of the historical building. Various displays and documents give an impression of Jewish life in this part of Berlin.

The guided tour provides access to an open space behind the restored parts of the building, which gives a powerful impression of the size of the original synagogue and the extent of its destruction.

The inner wall and the remnants of the masonry have been secured by a glass and steel structure and the ground plan of the former synagogue has been laid out in stone in the open space.

Quick Facts on the New Synagogue

Site Information
Names:Centrum Judaicum · Neue Synagoge · New Synagogue · Oranienburger Synagoge
Country:Germany
Categories:synagogues; museums
Styles:Moorish; Byzantine Revival
Dates:1866; restored 1980s
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:52.524969° N, 13.394458° E
Address:Oranienburger Str. 28-30
Berlin, Germany
Phone:030/8802-8316
Email:office@cjudaicum.de
Website:www.cjudaicum.de
Hours:Sep-Apr: Sun-Thurs 10-6, Fri 10-2
May-Aug: Tue-Thu 10-6, Mon and Sun 10-8, Fri 10-5
Tours: Wed at 4, Sun at 2 and 4
Lodging:View hotels near the New Synagogue
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Personal visit (exterior only; March 5, 2008).
  2. Fodor's Berlin
  3. Frommer's Germany
  4. Official Website of the Neue Synagoge (German and English)

More Information

© SnapshotsUnmade
© Joep de Graaff
© Martin Biskoping
© Dean Ayres
© Google Earth

Map of the New Synagogue, Berlin

Below is a location map and aerial view of the New Synagogue. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.