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The Isaac M. Wise Temple, Cincinnati, Ohio Great Synagogue, Plzeň (Czech Republic) Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest (Hungary)
National Library, Sarajevo (Bosnia) Gran Teatro Falla, Cádiz (Spain) Arc de Triomf, Barcelona, 1888.
The Grand Choral Synagogue, St. Petersburg (Russia) Sofia Synagogue (Bulgaria) Palace of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Scottish Rites Temple, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Hunt & Burns, Architects 1912    
Tramway travelling along the Miljacka River, Sarajevo Old Temple Synagogue, Sarajevo Neue Synagoge (New Synagogue), Berlin
Serbian Orthodox Church, Dubrovnik Interior of the Great Synagogue on Dohány Street, Budapest Moorish-style interior of the Carvajal Mansion, Campeche
Above 6 images copyright Peter Langer,    
Under persecution in Christian Europe,  Jewish communities had been unable to develop a tradition of monumental architecture. After the emancipation of Jews in Europe, and the growth of large Jewish communities in America, it was possible to erect major worship buildings. The problem was what style to use: classical buildings called upon pagan Greco-Roman themes which many considered unsuitable for a Jewish worship space; and the Gothic style so dominant among Christians was equally unsuitable. One solution widely adopted was to make use of "Moorish" architecture - that is the architecture of Muslim Spain (or Andalusia). The relatively tolerant climate of Medieval Spain had been a golden age of Jewish culture, and it was believed that Muslim architecture had incorporated aspects of Jewish religious architecture. Thus the phenomenon of German Jewish (Ashkenazi) congregations adopting the style of Muslim Spain and the golden age of Sephardic Jewry. The first major examples of the style were Friedrich von Gartner's Munich Synagogue of 1832 and Gottfried Semper's Dreden Synagogue of 1837. The first American synagogue in this style was B'nai Jeshrun in Cicinnati in 1866.  Henry Fernbach , born in Germany and an immigrant to the US in 1855, could have known these buildings directly or through publications. At all events he used the style for several American synagogues.
Moorish revival synagogues
Munich synagogue, by Friedrich von Gärtner, 1832 was the earliest Moorish revival synagogue (destroyed on Kristallnacht) Semper Synagogue, by Gottfried Semper, Dresden, 1839–40 (destroyed on Kristallnacht) Leopoldstädter Tempel, Vienna, Austria, 1853-58 (destroyed on Kristallnacht)
Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest (Hungary), 1854-1859 Leipzig synagogue 1855 (destroyed on Kristallnacht) Glockengasse synagogue, Cologne, Germany, 1855-61 (destroyed on Kristallnacht)
Tempel Synagogue, Cracow, Poland, 1860-62 Spanish Synagogue, Prague, 1868 Great Synagogue in Pilsen, Pilsen, Bohemia, Czech Republic, 1888
Czernowitz Synagogue, Czernowitz, 1873 Great Synagogue of Florence, Tempio Maggiore, Florence, 1874-82 Princes Road Synagogue, Liverpool, England, 1874
Prešov synagogue, Prešov, Slovakia, 1898 Manchester Jewish Museum, built as a Sephardic synagogue, Manchester, England, 1874 Sarajevo Synagogue 1902
Jubilee Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic, 1906 Rumbach Street synagogue, Budapest, Hungary, 1872 Košice synagogue, Košice, Slovakia, 1899, interior of Rundbogenstil building
United States    
Isaac M. Wise Temple,( also known as the Plum Street Temple) Cincinnati, Ohio, 1865 Congregation Ohab Zedek , Upper West Side, Manhattan, New York, 1926 Temple Emanu-El, on Fifth Avenue at 43rd Street, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York built in 1868, designed by Leopold Eidlitz, assisted by Henry Fernbach, (no longer standing)
Temple B’nai Sholom, Quincy, Illinois, 1870 Central Synagogue, Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York, 1872 Vine Street Temple, Nashville, Tennessee, 1874
B'nai Israel Synagogue (Baltimore), Maryland, 1876 Temple Adath Israel, Owensboro, Kentucky, 1877 Prince Street Synagogue (Oheb Shalom,) Newark, New Jersey, 1884
Eldridge Street Synagogue, Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York, 1887 Temple Beth-El, Corsicana, Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas, 1898-1900 Park East Synagogue, Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York, 1889
Gemiluth Chessed, Port Gibson, Mississippi, 1891 Congregation Beth Israel of Portland, Oregon, 1888 (no longer standing) Ohabei Shalom, Brookline, Massachusetts, 1925
Congregation Rodeph Shalom, Philadelphia, 1866 (no longer standing) Congregation Rodeph Shalom, Philadelphia, 1928  
Moorish Revival

Moorish Revival or Neo-Moorish is one of the exotic revival architectural styles that were adopted by architects of Europe and the Americas in the wake of the Romanticist fascination with all things oriental. It reached the height of its popularity after the mid-nineteenth century, part of a widening vocabulary of articulated decorative ornament beyond classical and Gothic modes. Little distinction was made in European and American practice between motifs drawn from Ottoman Turkey or from Andalusia.

The "Moorish" garden structures built at Sheringham, Norfolk, ca. 1812, were an unusual touch at the time, a parallel to chinoiserie, but as early as 1826, Edward Blore used islamic arches, domes of various size and shapes and other details of Near Eastern Islamic architecture to great effect in his design for Alupka Palace in Crimea, a cultural setting that had already been penetrated by authentic Ottoman styles. By the mid-19th century, the style was adopted by the Jews of Central Europe, who associated mudejar architectural forms with the golden age of Jewry in medieval Muslim Spain. As a consequence, Moorish Revival spread around the globe as a preferred style of synagogue architecture.

In the United States, Washington Irving's travel sketch, Tales of the Alhambra (1832) first brought Moorish Andalusia into readers' imaginations; one of the first neo-Moorish structures was Iranistan, a mansion of P. T. Barnum in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Constructed in 1848 and demolished by fire ten years later, this architectural extravaganza "sprouted bulbous domes and horseshoe arches".[1] In the 1860s, the style spread across America, with Olana, the painter Frederic Edwin Church's house overlooking the Hudson River, Castle Garden in Jacksonville and Nutt's Folly in Natchez, Mississippi usually cited among the more prominent examples. After the American Civil War, Moorish or Turkish smoking rooms achieved some popularity. There were Moorish details in the interiors created for the Havemeyer residence on Fifth Avenue by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The 1914 Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon incorporates Turkish design features, as well as French, English, and Italian ones; the smoking room in particular has notable Moorish revival elements. In 1937, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota added unusual minarets and Moorish domes, unusual because the polychrome decorations are made out of corn cobs of various colors assembled like mosaic tiles to create patterns. The 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel, whose minarets and Moorish domes are now the pride of the University of Tampa, was a particularly extravagant example of the style. Other schools with Moorish Revival buildings include Yeshiva University in New York City.

Although Carlo Bugatti employed Moorish arcading among the exotic features of his furniture, shown at the 1902 exhibition at Turin, by that time the Moorish Revival was very much on the wane everywhere but Imperial Russia, where the shell-encrusted Morozov House in Moscow (a stylisation of a Portuguese palace in Sintra) and the Neo-Mameluk palaces of Koreiz exemplify the continuing development of the style, and in Bosnia, where the Austrian government commissioned a range of Neo-Moorish structures. This included application of ornamentations and other Moorish design strategies neither of which had much to do with prior architectural direction of indigenous Bosnian architecture. Post office in Sarajevo for example follows distinct formal characteristics of design like clarity of form, symmetry, and proportion while the interior followed the same doctrine. Library in Sarajevo is an example of Pseudo Moorish architectural language using decorations and pointed arches while still integrating other formal elements into the design.

In Spain, the country conceived as the place of origin of Moorish ornamentation, the interest in this sort of architecture fluctuated from province to province. The main stream was called Neo-Mudéjar. In Catalonia, Antoni Gaudí's profound interest in Mudéjar heritage governed the design of his early works, such as Casa Vicens or Astorga Palace. In Andalusia, the Neo-Mudéjar style gained belated popularity in connection with the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 and was epitomized by Plaza de España (Seville) and Gran Teatro Falla in Cádiz. In Madrid, the Neo-Mudéjar was a characteristic style of housing and public buildings at the turn of the century, while the 1920s return of interest to the style resulted in such buildings as Las Ventas bull ring and Diario ABC office.

Moorish Revival Theaters in America
Theater City and State Architect Date
Bagdad Portland, Oregon Thomas & Mercier 1927
Granada Emporia, Kansas Boller Brothers 1929
Keiths Flushing Queens, New York Thomas Lamb 1928
Alhambra Birmingham, Alabama Graven & Maygar 1927
Olympic Miami, Florida John Eberson 1926
Fox Atlanta, Georgia Mayre, Alger & Vinour 1929
Alhambra Hopkinsville, Kentucky John Walker 1928
Temple Meridian, Mississippi Emile Weil 1927
Saenger Hattiesburg, Mississippi Emile Weil 1929
Fox North Platte, Nebraska Elmer F. Behrens 1929
Civic Akron, Ohio John Eberson 1929
Palace Canton, Ohio John Eberson 1926
Palace Marion, Ohio John Eberson 1928
Sooner Norman, Oklahoma Harold Gimeno 1929
Plaza El Paso, Texas W. Scott Donne 1930
Majestic San Antonio, Texas John Eberson 1929
Tower Los Angeles, California S. Charles Lee 1927
Alhambra San Francisco, California Miller & Pfleuger 1925
Tennessee Knoxville, Tennessee Graven & Mayger 1928
Loews Richmond, Virginia John Eberson 1928
Music Box Chicago, Illinois Louis J. Simon 1929

Theatres outside the United States
Theater Photo City and State Country Architect Date
State/Forum Theatre Melbourne, Victoria Australia Bohringer, Taylor & Johnson 1929
Eastern Arcade (former Palace/Metro Theatre) Melbourne, Victoria Australia Hyndman & Bates 1894 (demolished in 2008)

Shriners Temples

The Shriners, a fraternal organization, often chose a Moorish Revival style for their Temples. Architecturally notable Shriners Temples include:
New York City Center, now used as a concert hall
Medinah Temple, Chicago, built by architects Huehl and Schmidt in 1912.
Tripoli Shrine Temple, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1929.
Almas Temple, (1929,) 1315 O St., Washington. D.C.
Zembo Mosque, Harrisburg, PA

Templeton's Carpet Factory, Glasgow, Scotland, 1889
Former Yenidze Cigarette Factory, Dresden, Germany, 1908 (here, the "minarets" are used to disguise smokestacks)

Naylor, David, Great American Movie Theaters, The Preservation Press, Washington D.C., 1987
Thorne, Ross, Picture Palace Architecture in Australia, Sun Books Pty. Ltd., South Melbourne, Australia, 1976

^ John C. Poppeliers, S. Allen Chambers Jr. What Style Is It: A Guide to American Architecture. ISBN 0-471-25036-8. Page 63.