The New Synagogue - History and Facts | History Hit

The New Synagogue

Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Once a working synagogue, the New Synagogue in Berlin is today used as an informative museum, with the building standing as a great representation of eastern Moorish architecture.

Peta Stamper

20 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The New Synagogue

The New Synagogue in Berlin was originally constructed between 1859 and 1866, with the Moorish-inspired designs created by German architect Eduard Knoblauch. Today, the synagogue is used as a museum – the Centrum Judaicum – but during its active years it was the largest Jewish place of worship in Germany and remains an important site for Jewish history.

The New Synagogue history

One reason for the synagogue’s popularity is its architectural style. It’s said to be representative of eastern Moorish architecture, with Knoblauch apparently taking inspiration from the historic fortress of Alhambra in Andalucia, Spain. The exterior is decorated with terracotta brickwork while the large central dome and two side domes all boast beautiful gilded detailing.

During construction, the synagogue’s key purpose was to accommodate Berlin’s increasing Jewish population. For this reason the grand central hall could seat 3,200 people and was often used for musical events. The building was a symbol of the strong Jewish community in Berlin at the time.

Despite attempts during Kristallnacht (a pogrom against German and Austrian Jews on 9th – 10th November 1938) to shut the synagogue down, it remained active until 1940 before being severely damaged by Allied bombing in 1943.

Having been restored between 1988 and 1991, the synagogue opened its doors as the home of the Centrum Judaicum museum in 1995.

The New Synagogue today

Highly informative, the museum’s permanent exhibition, ‘Open Ye The Gates’, explores the rich story of the synagogue using unique historic documents and multimedia displays to convey how life was for Jewish worshippers during this period of Berlin’s history. Open between 10am and 6pm Sunday to Friday, it’s also possible for visitors to explore the synagogue’s vast dome.

Getting to The New Synagogue

Right in the heart of Berlin, the New Synagogue is easily reached on public transport. You can hop on the S1, S2, S25 or S26 trains or 12, M1, M5 or M6 trams to Oranienburger Straße, just over the road from the synagogue.