The Grande Synagogue (officially named the Beth Yaakov Synagogue) is the Ashkenazi synagogue of Geneva, Switzerland.
History of Grande Synagogue
There has been a Jewish community in Geneva since the early 19th century; originally they worshipped at a synagogue in the Carouge suburb.
The Grande Synagogue was built in 1858-59, soon after the Genevan government allowed non-Protestant religious buildings within the city walls. At the time, the community only had about 200 members.
Listed as a historical monument in 1995, the Grande Synagogue was renovated in 1997 according to its original design.
What to See at Grande Synagogue
Designed by Swiss architect Jean-Henri Bachofen, the synagogue's style is Byzantine-Moorish, a common theme in 19th-century European synagogues. The design is meant to symbolize the Jews' eastern origins in Israel as well as the Ashkenazi community's former glory in Muslim Spain.
The synagogue's striking exterior features a large dome over an octagonal base and walls painted in plain gray on the lower level and striped pink and white on the upper level. Entrance is on the west end, which has Moorish-style horseshoe arches and a Hebrew inscription over the double doors. The east wall has a Byzantine-style apse.
The interior is decorated in a predominately Moorish style, with a two-story Holy Ark surrounded by white arches at the east end. The bimah is situated immediately in front of the Ark and the women's section is in the upper galleries on both sides.
Quick Facts on Grande Synagogue
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- Personal visit (exterior only; December 2006).
- Beth Yaakov Synagogue, Geneva, Switzerland - The Database of Jewish Communities
- Photos of Grande Synagogue - here on Sacred Destinations