The New Synagogue Berlin (Neue Synagoge) is a historic and architectural landmark in Berlin, Germany. It was built between 1859 and 1866 as the main place of worship for the Jewish community of Berlin, which was growing rapidly due to immigration from Eastern Europe. The synagogue was designed by Eduard Knoblauch and Friedrich August Stüler in a Moorish Revival style, inspired by the Alhambra palace in Spain. The building features a polychrome brick façade, richly decorated with terracotta and glazed tiles, and a striking central dome with gilded ribs. The dome is flanked by two smaller domes on the side wings. The synagogue could seat 3,000 people and was inaugurated in 1866 in the presence of Otto von Bismarck, then the prime minister of Prussia. The synagogue also hosted public concerts, including a violin performance by Albert Einstein in 1930 .
The New Synagogue Berlin survived the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, thanks to the intervention of a local police officer who prevented the Nazis from setting it on fire. However, it was badly damaged by Allied bombing raids during World War II and most of the interior was destroyed. In 1958, the main hall and the rear parts of the building were demolished, leaving only the front section with the dome and the towers. In 1988, a reconstruction project began to restore the façade and to create a museum and a cultural center inside the building. The museum displays exhibits on the history and culture of the Jewish community in Berlin, as well as artifacts from the original synagogue. The cultural center hosts events, lectures, concerts and religious services. The New Synagogue is open to visitors from Sunday to Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays. The admission fee is 5 euros for adults and 3 euros for students and seniors.
To get to the New Synagogue Berlin, you can take the S-Bahn (lines S1, S2, S25 or S26) or the U-Bahn (line U6) to Oranienburger Straße station, which is right next to the synagogue. You can also take the tram (lines M1 or M5) or the bus (lines 142 or N6) to Oranienburger Straße/Tucholskystraße stop, which is a short walk away from the synagogue. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or a bike to reach the synagogue.
Some tips for visiting the New Synagogue Berlin are:
- Wear modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, as a sign of respect for the religious site.
- Bring a head covering if you want to enter the prayer room on the second floor. Men are required to wear a kippah (skullcap) and women can wear a scarf or a hat.
- Do not bring any food or drinks into the museum or the prayer room.
- Do not take photos or videos inside the museum or the prayer room without permission.
- Do not touch any of the exhibits or artifacts without permission.
- Be quiet and respectful when visiting the prayer room or attending a service.
Some of the highlights of what to see at the New Synagogue Berlin are:
- The dome: The impressive dome is one of the most recognizable features of the synagogue. It has a diameter of 29 meters and a height of 50 meters. It is decorated with gilded ribs and stars of David. You can see it from inside the museum or from outside on Oranienburger Straße.
- The façade: The façade of the synagogue is a masterpiece of Moorish Revival architecture. It is made of polychrome brickwork with terracotta and glazed tiles. It has intricate patterns and motifs that reflect Islamic and Jewish influences. You can admire it from outside or from inside through large windows.
- The museum: The museum on the first floor showcases the history and culture of the Jewish community in Berlin from its origins to the present day. It has permanent and temporary exhibitions that display documents, photos, objects and artworks related to Jewish life in Berlin. It also has interactive stations where you can listen to stories, music and testimonies from Jewish Berliners.
- The prayer room: The prayer room on the second floor is a small but beautiful space where religious services are held regularly. It has wooden benches, an ark that contains Torah scrolls, a bimah (platform) where prayers are recited, and a ner tamid (eternal light) that symbolizes God’s presence. It also has stained glass windows that depict scenes from Jewish history and tradition.
- The tours: The New Synagogue offers guided tours for groups and individuals who want to learn more about its history, architecture and significance. You can book a tour online or by phone in advance or join one on site if there are available spots. The tours are offered in different languages, including English, German, Hebrew and Russian.