The Great Synagogue in Plzeň is the second largest synagogue in Europe. A Viennese architect called Fleischer drew up the original plans for the synagogue in Gothic style with granite buttresses and twin 65-meter towers. The cornerstone was laid on December 2, 1888. City councillors rejected the plan in a clear case of tower envy as they felt that the grand erection would compete with the nearby Cathedral of St. Bartholomew. Emmanuel Klotz put forward a new design in 1890 retaining the original ground plan and hence the cornerstone, but lowering the towers by 20m and creating the distinctive look combining Romantic and neo-Renaissance styles covered with Oriental decorations and a giant Star of David. The design was quickly approved and master builder Rudolf Štech completed work in 1893 for the bargain price of 162,138 guilders.

At the time the Jewish community in Plzeň numbered some 2,000. The mixture of styles is truly bewildering; from the onion domes of a Russian orthodox church, to the Arabic style ceiling, to the distinctly Indian looking Aron kodesh. The synagogue was used without interruption until the Nazi occupation of World War II, and the Jewish community that retook possession of the synagogue at the end of hostilities had been decimated by the Holocaust. The synagogue was used as a storage facility during the war and was thereby spared from destruction. The last regular service was held in 1973, and then the synagogue was closed down and allowed to fall into disrepair under communist rule. Restoration was undertaken from 1995-1998, and the synagogue was reopened on February 11, 1998 at a cost of 63 million Kč. The central hall is now often used for concerts from such legends as Joseph Malowany, Peter Dvorský, or Karel Gott, while the walls play host to temporary photographic exhibitions of various causes. The synagogue is still used for worship, but only in what was formerly the winter prayer room. The present number of Pilsner Jews is a little over 70.

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Founded: 1888
Category: Religious sites in Czech Republic

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jitka Drak225 (3 months ago)
Ok
Henk Henk (2 years ago)
It's a nice historic building. That's all though. There's an entrance fee of EUR 4,00 p.p.
Blazej Hudzikowski (2 years ago)
The biggest synagogue I've ever seen. The ornately decorated interior is really stunning. A must-see place for every fan of Jewish culture.
Petr Simon (2 years ago)
Today i visited with my family. The staff was very friendly And helpful. Both girls take care about my luggage. The tour was great. I can really recommend the visit. Thank you. SALOM.
Zuzana Vavrova (2 years ago)
It is possible to make a non guided tour through the interiors. In summer 2019 it costs 80 CZK per person. Don't forget to climb to the balcony because only from that place you can see the whole church... Very impressive place. And the concerts here are so good - great acoustics there. They accept only cash (CZK and EUR). It isn't possible to pay by card! Bathrooms available.
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