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The Grand Synagogue is located in Dohány Street in the old Jewish quarter, a district which retained little of its Jewish characteristics after seventy percent of the community was killed during the Hungarian fascist period of the 1940’s. Despite their once being as many as one hundred and ten synagogues in the city, there are only twenty remaining. This includes that of Dohány Street which is the biggest in Europe. It was designed by Ludwig Forster and built by Ignac Wechselmann between the years of 1854 and 1859, and holds up to three thousand people, one thousand five hundred men in the lower section and one thousand five hundred women in the gallery.
It is a three storey building which combines both Romantic and Byzantine architectural styles. What you will notice about it are its two forty three metre high towers which are crowned by magnificent bulbs. Together with the red and white brick facade and rich ceramic decoration they make this synagogue one of the most impressive buildings in Budapest. It is, in fact, the second biggest synagogue in the world after one in New York.
You will also find here the Jewish Museum which, as well as displaying objects connected to religious life, contains a hall commemorating the Holocaust of 1944 and 1945.
You can also visit the Jewish Mausoleum, built in 1931, which has a square showing the birth place in one the adjacent houses, of Theodor Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement. Also in the courtyard outside there is a commemorative monument to the victims of the Holocaust. The park is dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg - the Swedish business man who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust. There is also a silver tree by Imre Varga, placed right on top of the communal graves of those murdered by the Nazis. On each of the tree’s leaves are the names of some of the four hundred thousand people who were killed.
All in all, an important reminder of one of the darkest periods in European history.
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