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Edmond J Safra Grand Choral Synagogue

St Petersburg, in Russia, is known as a city that is alive with arts, culture, history and noteworthy sites. And none are more significant than the breathtaking churches, synagogues and chapels that have survived wars, persecution and many turbulent times throughout the history of Russia. They are a connection to the past, a reminder of what has been achieved, and a witness to the country’s growth. One of these magnificent buildings is the Edmond J Safra Grand Choral Synagogue.

It took the Russian government five years to find the correct site for the construction of the first synagogue, as there were many rules and regulations that had to be adhered to. Building eventually commenced in 1874. Architects and designers of the Edmond J Safra Grand Choral Synagogue, also known as the St Petersburg Grand Choral Synagogue, included the well-known architects Bachmann and Shaposhnikov. The proposed height of the synagogue was supposed to be sixty-five meters, but was reduced to forty seven as it was a rule that no building was allowed to be higher than the Winter Palace of the Tsar. Exceptions were made only made for bell towers and for domes.

The building was constructed in a popular Central European style known as Moorish architecture. The entrance to the synagogue has a massive archway, with minarets on either side. Moorish motifs, such as Stalactite moldings and beautiful stucco squinches, can be seen. It has become one of the most significant architectural wonders of Europe and is the second largest of its kind. On completion the synagogue was able to accommodate two thousand people, and in 1893 the St Petersburg Grand Choral Synagogue was consecrated.

As with many buildings during the war, the synagogue was used as a hospital and medical facility. It became a vital part of the war effort, even though it was bombed during one of the most critical times in the history of Russia, the Siege of Leningrad. But the people managed to survive and so did many of their historical buildings. In 1988 Edmund Safra, and his wife Lily, donated the funds to have this breathtaking architectural masterpiece restored. From the floor tiles to the stained glass and roof tiles, everything was meticulously restored to its former magnificence. Because of his noteworthy contributions to preserve the synagogue, it is now known as the Edmond J Safra Grand Choral Synagogue. Why not pay a visit to this grand structure when touring St Petersburg.


User Comments & Reviews: 1 Comment(s)

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Ruth Ader - 2010-05-14 23:58:42

We will be in St. Petersburg with Viking River cruises.I would love to visit your synagogue. I would appreciate any help you could give us to make this possible. Thank you.

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