Essential Architecture-  Berlin

Neue Synagogue


Eduard Knoblauch, F.A. Stüler


 Oranienburger Strasse


1866, burnt 1938, bombed 1943, rebuilt 1988-1995


Moorish Revival


richly ornamented with shaped bricks and terracotta, accented by coloured glazed bricks


  An image of the plaque on the front of the Neue Synagogue, outlining the building's history.
This largest and most beautiful Berlin synagogue was erected 1866 by the architect F.A. Stüler. Up to its destruction by the Nazis in the year 1938 it was one of the centers of Jewish faith and culture. In the years 1988-1995 the synagogue was re-erected.

New Synagogue

The Neue Synagoge (Eng. "New Synagogue") was built 1859-1866 as the main synagogue of the Berlin Jewish community, in Oranienburger Strasse. Because of its splendid eastern moorish style and resemblance to the Alhambra, it is an important architectural monument of the second half of the 19th Century in Berlin.

The original building was designed by Eduard Knoblauch. Following Knoblauch's succumbing to illness, Friedrich August Stüler took responsibility for the majority of its construction as well as for its interior arrangement and design. It was inaugurated in the presence of Chancellor Count Otto von Bismarck in 1866.

The front of the building, facing Oranienburger Straße, is richly ornamented with shaped bricks and terracotta, accented by coloured glazed bricks. Beyond the entrance, the building's alignment changes to mesh with pre-existing structures. The synagogue's main dome with its gilded ribs is an eye-catching sight. The central dome is flanked by two smaller pavilion-like domes on the two side-wings. Beyond the façade was the front hall and the main hall with 3000 seats. Due to the unfavourable alignment of the property the building's design required adjustment along a slightly turned axis.

The Neue Synagoge is also a monument of early iron construction. The new building material (iron was previously not used in building construction) was visible in its use for the outside columns, as well as in the dome's construction. (Iron was also a core component for the now-lost floor structure of the main hall.)


During Kristallnacht (9 November, 1938) the Neue Synagoge was set ablaze. The fire was extinguished, however, and the synagogue, protected as a registered architectural monument, escaped complete destruction. During World War II it was heavily damaged by Allied bombing during air raids in 1943. The ruins of the building were finally demolished in 1958. It was not until the collapse of the Berlin Wall that reconstruction began. From 1988 to 1993, the remains of the façade were restored as the "Centrum Judaicum" (lit. "Jewish Center"), without being constructed anew. In May 1995, the synagogue was partly revived, though it failed to regain its 19th century glory. After the renovations, only the front of the building with the destroyed dome remained.

Together with the New Synagogue, the whole Scheunenviertel district experienced a revival, with chic restaurants and boutiques opening up in the area, catering to an increasingly bourgeois clientele.