Monday, May 15, 2023

14th of May 2023 - Great Synagogue of Budapest and boarding S.S. Maria Theresa

 The Great Synagogue or Tabakgasse Synagogue, also known as the Dohány Street Synagogue, is the largest synagogue in Europe.  It seats 3,000 people and is a centre of Neolog Judaism.  The synagogue was built between 1854 and 1859 in the Moorish Revival style.  The Dohány Street Synagogue complex consists of the Great Synagogue, the Heroes' Temple, the graveyard, the Memorial, and the Jewish Museum.  Dohány Street itself, a leafy street in the city centre, carries strong Holocaust connotations as it constituted the border of the Budapest Ghetto.  This synagogue is very different from other synagogues as it is the only one to have pipe organs and a cemetery.


A guided tour was included however it was not easy to know which tour to join.  My first two attempts to join a tour resulted in my being told that these were private tours.  Eventually I found the right tour to join.  The interior of the synagogue was quite spectacular with frescoes made of coloured and golden geometric shapes .  Originally the seats on the ground floor are for men with the women sitting in the upper gallery.  Now women are allowed to sit on the ground floor but on the seats to the side with the middle seats being reserved for the men.


In 1944, the Dohány Street Synagogue was part of the Jewish ghetto for the city Jews and served as shelter for many hundreds. Over two thousand of those who died in the ghetto from hunger and cold during the winter 1944-1945 are buried in the courtyard of the synagogue.


Our final visit was to the Raoul Wallenberg Emlékpark (memory park) in the rear courtyard.  This holds the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs which resembles a weeping willow whose leaves bear inscriptions with the names of victims.  At least 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered by the Nazis.


We were transferred from our hotel to our cruise ship, the S.S. Maria Theresa, in time for lunch before being shown to our cabins.  In the afternoon we greeted in the lounge by our captain who also led the obligatory safety briefing.  This was followed by an excellent dinner in the restaurant before heading to the lounge for after dinner drinks and a piano recital.

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