It was the day before Erev Yom Kippur, which will have started at sundown the next day. The holiest day on the Jewish calendar which occurs ten days after Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year — Yom Kippur is the day of atonement and repentance for the previous year. What better time to visit the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest — the largest synagogue in Europe — especially when the synagogue was going to be closed early to visitors the next day?
Aviv Travel is the agency which handles the ticket operation for admission, both via the Internet and at the synagogue itself. You can purchase a guided tour; or you can do what I did and embark on a self-guided tour — both of which can include the Hungarian Jewish Museum, the Jewish Cemetery, the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park, and the Heroes’ Temple and arcade. I intend to post photographs on these portions of the complex in separate trip reports.
Although I am not a religious person, I sometimes enjoy going inside of a historic synagogue or church to admire the architecture and get a glimpse of the past. I often remark to myself about the quality of the craftsmanship used to create these structures, which were built to stand for hundreds of years. It is sad that more buildings are not constructed in ways in which they are unique, formidable, and aesthetically pleasing.
The Dohány Street Synagogue — also known as the Great Synagogue in Budapest — is the second-largest operating synagogue in the world after Temple Emanu-El in New York.
I always seem to do things backwards: I was born and raised in New York and even spent some of my adult life there; yet I do not ever recall visiting Temple Emanu-El in New York. I visited Lady Knox Geyser near Rotorua in the Taupo Volcanic Zone of the North Island of New Zealand before I visited the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park; and at least Old Faithful erupts naturally. A guide used soap to activate an eruption from the Lady Knox geyser when I was there — but I digress.
Synagogues are not typically ornate; but the Great Synagogue can stand its own compared to some historic cathedrals. Although photographs do not do justice to the beauty of the stained glass, polished wood, decorative trim work and mosaic tile of the synagogue — an extensive description of the synagogue and its history is found here — I will let my photographs do the talking, so to speak:
The foundation stone was laid on September 5, 1854; and the ceremonial opening of the synagogue occurred exactly five years and one day later on September 6, 1859, just before the festivals of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The Dohány Street Synagogue Operating Hours
Open at 10:00 in the morning every day of the week except for Saturday, when the synagogue is closed to visitors; but closing hours vary as shown below.
From November 2 through February 28 or 29 of the following year:
Sunday through Thursday until 4:00 in the afternoon
Fridays until 2:00 in the afternoon
From March 1 through October 31 of the following year:
Sunday through Thursday until 6:00 in the afternoon
Fridays from March 1 through March 31 until 3:30 in the afternoon
Fridays from April 1 through October until 4:30 in the afternoon
The last Friday in October until 3:30 in the afternoon
The Great Synagogue of Budapest is open through 2:00 in the afternoon twice during Erev Savuot and once during Erev Smini Aceret; and through 3:00 in the afternoon during the Jewish Summer Festival.
Keep in mind that the ticket office closes 30 minutes earlier than closing time.
The Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum are closed on the following days:
March 15: National Holiday
Passover or Pesach
Twice during Sukkot
October 23: National Holiday
All Saints’ Day
December 24 and 25 for Christmas
Address and Telephone Numbers
1074 Budapest, Dohány utca 2-8 in district VII., at an angle to Károly körút, between Deák tér and Astoria
Contact address: 1075 Budapest Sip utca 12 +36 1 343-0420 +36 1 317 2754
By the way, utca is the Hungarian word for street.
1,400 Hungarian Forints or approximately $5.40 in United States dollars; or receive a discount of ten percent if you have a Budapest Card.
Admission to the Jewish Museum:
Single ticket, museum only, without a guide:
Adult: 2,000 Hungarian Forints or approximately $7.70 in United States dollars; or receive a discount of ten percent if you have a Budapest Card
Student or pensioner: 850 Hungarian Forints or approximately $3.28 in United States dollars; or receive a discount of ten percent if you have a Budapest Card
Single ticket, with guide:
Adult: 2,250 Hungarian Forints or approximately $8.67 in United States dollars
Student or pensioner: 1,850 Hungarian Forints or approximately $7.13 in United States dollars
With Budapest Card: 1,800 Hungarian Forints or approximately $6.93 in United States dollars
Group ticket of greater than ten persons, with a guide:
Adult: 1,900 Hungarian Forints or approximately $7.32 in United States dollars
Student or pensioner: 1,500 Hungarian Forints or approximately $5.78 in United States dollars
With Budapest Card: 1,300 Hungarian Forints or approximately $5.00 in United States dollars
Inside the synagogue, men are required to wear a small skullcap called a kipah or yarmulke; but you will receive one at the entrance.
The Dohány Street Synagogue is an excellent representation of Moorish architecture which is absolutely worth visiting. I also recommend visiting the other aspects of the complex, which as I said I intend to post photographs on those portions of the complex in separate trip reports.