[The Dohány Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and second largest synagogue in the world. Constructed in the 1850s, it’s style has influenced that of later synagogues, most notably New York City’s Central Synagogue. Actually Manhattan’s Central Synagogue is a near-exact copy of the Great Street Synagogue of Budapest. Budapest’s Great Synagogue seats 3,000 people and approximately 2000 standing, and is a centre of Neolog Judaism. The Dohány Street Synagogue complex consists of the Great Synagogue, the Heroes’ Temple, the graveyard, the Memorial and the Jewish Museum, which was built on the site on which Theodor Herzl’s house of birth stood. The ‘Tree of Life’ and the memorial of Raoul Wallenberg stands in the garden of the synagogue.
The synagogue was built between 1854 and 1859 in the Moorish revival style, with the decoration based chiefly on Islamic models from Nothern Africa and Spain. The synagogue’s Viennese architect, Förster- architect of Vienna’s Ringstrasse too – , believed that no distinctively Jewish architecture could be identified, and thus chose “architectural forms that have been used by oriental ethnic groups that are related to the Israelite people, and in particular the Arabs”. The interior design is partly the work of Friedrich Feszl. The consecration of the synagogue was a major event on 6th September 1859.
The building is 75 metres (246 ft) long and 27 metres (89 ft) wide. The style of the Dohány Street Synagogue is Moorish but its design also features a mixture of Byzantine, Romantic and Gothic elements. Two onion shaped domes sit on the twin octagonal towers at 43 metres (141 ft) height. A rose stained-glass window sits over the main entrance. Between the towers one can see the of Torah. Similarly to chatedrals, the building consists of three spacious richly decorated aisles, two balconies and, unusually, an organ. Its ark contains various torah scrolls taken from other synagogues destroyed during the Holocaust. Inside the torah-ark and the internal frescoes made of colored and golden geometric shapes are the works of the famous Hungarian romantic architect Friedrich Feszl. A single-span cast iron supports the 12-metre-wide (39 ft) nave. The seats on the ground-floor are for men, while the upper gallery, supported by steel ornamented poles, has seats for women. This synagogue is very different from other synagogues as it is the only one to have pipe organs and a cemetery.
The Dohany Synagogue remained the most important religious centre of the Neolog Jews in Hungary to this day.