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Dohány Street Synagogue

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The Dohány Street Synagogue (or Dohány utcai zsinagóga in Hungarian), also known as the Great Synagogue or the Tabakgasse Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe, and one of Budapest’s most popular sites for tourists. While the synagogue itself is a stunning example of unique religious architecture, visitors will also enjoy exploring the attached Hungarian Jewish Museum and surrounding memorial park, both of which are included in the price of entry.
Maurizio MassaroBy Maurizio Massaro
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Budapest: The Great Synagogue Skip the Line Ticket
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Hungarian Jewish Museum & Dohány Synagogue Complex: Fast Track
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Walking Tours

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Budapest Private Jewish Walk
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Expert Led Tour of Budapest's Jewish Quarter
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Judapest - The Jewish Quarter Then & Now - Private tour
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Budapest Jewish Customised City Walk
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Jewish Heritage Walking Tour and Lunch Cruise on the Danube
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4 Tips for Visiting the Dohány Street Synagogue

Holocaust-Denkmal | Photo: Manny Moss CC BY-ND 2.0
1
Arrive on TimeThe Great Synagogue is one of the most popular tourist sites in Budapest and it can be extremely busy. Go early in the morning or towards the end of the afternoon to avoid the crowds. The busiest period of each day is from 11 am to 1 pm.
Große Synagoge Tabakgasse | Photo: Fred Romero CC BY 2.0
2
Take a Guided TourThe tour included with a basic entry ticket takes about 45 minutes, but you’ll want to spend more time exploring the exterior areas of the synagogue by yourself afterwards. Plan to spend about 90 minutes to 2 hours seeing everything there is to see.
3
Think About Your ClothesWear clothing suitable for a place of worship - no shorts or skirts shorter than the knee, and bring something to cover bare shoulders. Men will be given a kippah or yarmulke to wear if they don’t have one of their own - if you can then bring a hair clip or a bobby pin to secure it.
4
Pay Your Respects at the Holocaust MemorialThe Jewish cemetery and Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park are peaceful areas within the synagogue grounds, and are set aside for reflection. Visitors will see memorials for Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust (who numbered at least 400,000) and several Righteous Among the Nations who helped to save Hungarian Jews from labor and concentration camps.
The Great Synagogue | Flickr: Harshil Shah CC BY-ND 2.0

The Temple on Budapest’s Tobacco Street

The Great Synagogue on Dohány Street was the central point of Jewish life in Budapest since its opening in 1859. Today the synagogue is extremely popular with tourists and offers a unique insight into the history of the Jewish community in Budapest.

Incredible Architecture

The Dohány Street Synagogue was built by Ludwig Förster between 1854 and 1859 and combines Moorish style with elements of Gothic, Romanesque, and Byzantine architecture. For example, the dome above the Torah-ark is influenced by the Alhambra in Granada and features stunning geometric shapes. With 2964 seats, the synagogue is the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world.

Unique Features

The building’s interior contains some features that those familiar with synagogues may find surprising. First, it contains an organ, which is unusual as Orthodox tradition forbids making music on the Sabbath. Second, the synagogue contains a pulpit similar to those found inside Christian churches, which is also an unusual design element.

Nazi Rule and Post-War Budapest

The Great Synagogue was one of the few major synagogues in Budapest to survive Nazi rule, due to its importance as a radio base, although it still suffered some damage during an air raid. In post-war Socialist Hungary, the synagogue was neglected. It was only in 1991 that restoration work began, lasting until 1998. Today the synagogue and its museum house important historical and religious artifacts documenting Judaism in Hungary.

Budapest Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum of Budapest was founded in 1896 and exhibited around 1,500 artifacts documenting Hungarian Jewish life and history. Today, visitors can enjoy exploring a large collection of Judaica containing pieces dating back to the 17th century, plus the archives of local Jewish communities. The museum also stands on the site of the birthplace of Theodor Herzl, author of The Jewish State and cited in the Israeli Declaration of Independence as the spiritual father of the Jewish state.
Flickr: Robert Brauneis CC BY 2.0

Raoul Wallenberg and the Budapest Ghetto

The Budapest Ghetto

In the winter of 1944-45, a ghetto was established in the Erzsébetváros district of Budapest. It was only in existence for two months before the city was liberated by the Red Army on January 17, 1945. However, during this period the area around the Great Synagogue and the synagogue on Kazinczy Street were sealed off by the fascist Arrow Cross and tens of thousands of Jews were murdered or deported to concentration camps.

Raoul Wallenberg

The Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg saved thousands of Jewish lives in Budapest by issuing protective passports and sheltering Jews in buildings that were officially Swedish territory. He was detained by the Red Army in 1945 after they took Budapest and reportedly died in mysterious circumstances in prison in Moscow two years later. Wallenberg was posthumously honored as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Israel. A memorial park remembering his life is located in the rear courtyard of the synagogue complex.
Flickr: joiseyshowaa CC BY 2.0

Tours of Dohány Street Synagogue and Erzsébetváros

A guided tour of the Jewish neighborhood is an excellent way to learn more about the community beyond the exhibits in the Jewish Museum and the interior of the Great Synagogue.

Brilliant Guides

The ticket for the Dohány Street Synagogue includes a 45-minute tour. Don’t skip it! The synagogue’s expert guides are great at explaining Jewish traditions and history to visitors, no matter their familiarity with the subject. The guides will also highlight the most interesting objects and architecture. Private tours are also available on request.

Tours Through the Jewish Quarter

If the Great Synagogue piques your interest in Budapest’s Jewish community, why not take a tour of the surrounding Jewish neighborhood? Tours combining a visit to the synagogue with the Jewish quarter take about two hours and start at 10 am on all days except Saturday.

History and Hipsters

Today the Jewish Quarter is covered in street art and is full of hipster bars, independent cafés, and boutique stores. When you take a tour of the neighborhood you’ll learn all about the history of the Jewish community while getting an insight into one of Budapest’s most fashionable districts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of tickets are available for the Great Synagogue and the Hungarian Jewish Museum?

A basic ticket includes skip-the-line admission to the Dohány Street Synagogue and the Hungarian Jewish Museum, including access to all temporary exhibitions, the Jewish cemetery, the Holocaust Memorial, the Temple of Heroes, and the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park. The basic ticket also includes an audio guide for the museum and an optional 45-minute guided tour of the synagogue itself. Read more.

Can we participate in services while in Budapest?

You are welcome to join services at the Dohány Street Synagogue, which follow the Hungarian Neolog tradition. Men and women are seated separately, and you’ll need to ensure that you’re dressed appropriately for a place of worship, with no exposed shoulders or knees, and men will need to wear a kippah. No photography is allowed during services. In winter, services are held inside the smaller Heroes’ Temple as the Great Synagogue isn’t heated. Read more.

General Information

Opening Hours:

The Great Synagogue and the Hungarian Jewish Museum are open every day except Saturdays and Jewish holidays. Opening times vary, but in general the complex is open from 10 am to 5.30 pm. During summer, the complex is open until 7.30 pm.

Tickets:

Tickets cost €16 for adults or €12 for students.

Address:

Dohány Street Synagogue
Dohány utca 2.
1074 Budapest

How to get there:

The Dohány Street Synagogue can be reached by metro to Astoria station, on the M2 line, by tram numbers 47 and 49, and by bus numbers 7 and 7A.
Maurizio Massaro
Written byMaurizio MassaroMaurizio is a cosmopolitan, a musician and comes around. In his role as a content manager at TicketLens, he is always striving to find new offers as well as writing about sights all over the world.Translated by Anneliese O'Malley
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