The Great Synagogue of Warsaw in Tłomackie Street, Tłomackie 4
Leander Marconi, son of Henryk, was entrusted with the honor of designing the most important synagogue for the Jewish community of Warsaw, called the Great Synagogue. Its grand opening took place on the 26th of September 1878, on the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year’s day. Preparations for construction works, since the the decision had been made by the environment connected with the synagogue in Daniłowiczowska Street, lasted almost 20 years. The synagogue itself existed only 60 years; the Nazis blew the building up on 16 May 1943 as a symbol oftheir triumph over the Jewish nation and the final pacification of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The course of this event is described in the book “Rozmowy z katem” of K. Moczarski.
The look of the synagogue is described in a publication of Ewa Małkowska “Synagoga na Tlomackiem” [the synagogue in Tłomackie Street] published in 1991. The collection of iconographic records allowing the reconstruction one of the most elegant edifices of Warsaw unfortunately did not enlarge since that time. Hence, please get acquainted with the aforementioned book fragments:
“There is not much to say about the size and dimensions on the Synagogue on the basis of materials available. Only the plan of the ground floor, published in the magazine “Architekt” from 1902, shows that the length of the whole building, including wall thickness, amounted to 64 meters, while its interior was a rectangle sized 33x29 meters, close to the shape of a square. The nave was 10.5 meters broad, while the width of aisles was 8.5 meters (not including the walls). The stage measured from the most distant spot of the apse to the balustrade was 9 meters long and 3.5 meters wide. The synagogue’s vestibule formed a square, 17.5 meters long. It is easier to imagine the real size of the building knowing the number of people it could hold. This synagogue was designed for 2,400 seats, 1,800 of which were on the ground floor.
Few iconographical records regarding the synagogue remained. They are mostly postcards presenting pictures of the synagogue’s façade photographed from various places; the interior, however, is shown only from the view on the Ark. The most probable explanation why there are no photos of the synagogue’s building from the back is that the access from that side was almost impossible due to tightly built up area. Fortunately, numerous papers from 1878 contain detailed description of the synagogue.
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