CES: Synagogues of Habsburg Hungary: Typology, Genealogy and Architectural Significance


Monday, April 9, 2018, 4:15pm to 6:00pm


Adolphus Busch Hall, Hoffman Room

Jews in Modern Europe Study Group


Rudolf Klein
Miklós Ybl Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Szent István University



Klein will present an overview of his newly published book Synagogues in Hungary 1782-1918. It is the first study on synagogues of Habsburg Hungary and one of the most comprehensive works addressing the question of synagogue architecture in the Diaspora, tackling religious and social aspects, formal determinants, urban context and the art historic significance.

Synagogues are viewed as a pivotal element of Jewish communal life, a building type that after Emancipation highlighted Jewish identity and Jewish success in the economy and culture in the host nations. Assimilating to the culture of 19th century nation-states and empires offered Jews the chance to terminate their isolation from the gentile world and to cast anchor into modern societies.

Hundreds of synagogues played the architectural role of these anchors. Domes and turrets rendered synagogues as landmarks in the villages, towns and cities of Habsburg Hungary and its successor states until the Holocaust, reinforcing Jewish presence in architectural-urban form. Ironically, many of these landmarks have survived, but the original intention failed: they no longer bear witness to Jewish existence.

This book surveys several hundred synagogues, existing or demolished, built from the 1760s to World War I and analyzes their architectural features and evolution. It also presents a typology of synagogues and their urban location. The book offers rich visual material about the present condition of existing synagogues, testifying a vanished culture in the heart of Europe.