Synagogues are not only spiritual places of assembly but, quite often, pieces of architecture that combine astounding beauty with stories of historical triumph. A synagogue is often at the top of a travel list for many cities all over the world, from Russia to Myanmar to Israel or the United States, so here is our list of the most spectacular synagogues from all over the world.
For the unsuspecting traveler, the Great Synagogue of Sydney may easily be mistaken for a Christian cathedral and is arguably one of Australia’s most beautiful religious establishments. The Synagogue is located right in the city center of Sydney, showing off elements of Byzantine and Gothic architecture since its consecration in 1878. The Synagogue is beautiful both inside and out with a large Gothic inspired rose window and bold columns at the front and a dark blue ceiling adorned with golden stars on the interior. The Synagogue offers tours at noon on various Tuesdays and Thursdays of each month. The Synagogue is also involved in other cultural events in Sydney like the Sydney Festival, due to its beauty and incredible acoustics.
Argentina has the biggest Jewish population in South America and arguably, the grandest synagogue in downtown Buenos Aires, Templo Libertad, the Temple of Freedom. The Synagogue features a large Star of David on the front underneath a stone arch, inspired by Roman architecture. The interior features a high ceiling, a beautiful chandelier, gorgeous wooden seating and a red carpet. The diverse nature of Jews in Argentina today means that the synagogue runs two Shabbat services. A more traditional service and a liberal service aimed at its younger members.
The Dohány Street Great Synagogue is a real hidden treasure of Budapest. It features Moorish styled architecture with intricate brickwork, twin towers topped with onion domes and a large rose stained-glass window sitting above the main entrance. The interior is just as impressive, complete with gorgeous, colored internal frescoes of geometric shapes and a mechanical organ. The Synagogue Complex also boasts an impressive history. Theodor Herzl was born and raised in the small building that used to be located next to the Synagogue. This plot of land is now the Jewish Museum. The complex also has The Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, with the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs made by Imre Varga. A silver sculpture that resembles a weeping willow, whose leaves bear the names of 400,000 Hungarian Jews who were victims of the Holocaust.