The Choral Temple is the largest synagogue and the best known monument of Jewish heritage in Bucharest.
It is also one of the most beautiful Jewish places of worship in the world.
Choral means Chorus.
It was the idea of a Polish Jew leader living in Bucharest, who wished an impressive synagogue as those from Paris, Berlin or Vienna.
It is a copy of Tempelgasse of Vienna (aka Leopoldstadt neighbourhood’s Temple), built between 1855-58 by an Austrian architect and destroyed by Nazis in 1938.
5 times smaller than the original one in Vienna that had 1,000 sqm, this is its only surviving replica.
This is one of the precious few Romanian synagogues whose architects are known.
The initial project of the future construction presented Gothic architectural features.
Designed by Viennese architects Enderle and Freiwald designed it with a touch of Moorish and Byzantine architectural styles.
Built between 1864-66, the red-brick monumental building has counter-forts and small towers in the corners.
The rosettes existing on the front facade nicely process cruciform concepts, also existing in the model of Vienna.
The Hebrew inscription on the building reads: My home is a home of pray and requests for all religions.
It is the same inscription as that on the Holy Union Temple.
Torah scrolls and other necessary items for the religious service were ordered from Budapest.
In 1866 there was a proposal to include within Constitution, an article that was granting Romanian citizenship to local Jews.
Romanian nationalists protested against it, burning almost completely the temple on its inauguration’s eve.
The Government was forced to withdraw the Article
Prince Carol I of Romania was one of the contributors to the restoration work, the Temple being open a year later.
Choral Temple became the symbol of Judaism in Romania.
The restoration and extension works changed its architectural design.
These were carried out in 1892, 1932, 1945 (after being damaged by the earthquake in 1940 and devastated by the far-right Legionaries from the Iron Guard during their fascist rebellion in 1941.
Since 1991 a great Menora-shaped Holocaust memorial monument fronts the Choral Temple.
Restored again for 7 years between 2007-2014, the synagogue was re-inaugurated on December 16, the first night of Hanukkah.
Then they also celebrated 150 years since the beginning of Temple’s construction.
The interior is visually stunning.
Its fabulous rich and colorful decoration includes lavish furnishing and lighting, adding yet more to the grandeur of the temple.
The most important Bucharest’s synagogue, still serves the Jewish community, hosting daily religious services.
One of the few active synagogues in the city and in Romania, this is Ashkenazi meaning women pray separated from men.
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