The Grand Choral Synagogue in St. Petersburg is the second largest synagogue in Europe and is an eye-catching landmark of the city. Built in the late 1880s, the Synagogue became a cultural center of the Jewish community of not only St. Petersburg but Russia in general.
The construction of the synagogue reflected the history of Jewish community development. In the middle of the 19th century, the Jewish community of St. Petersburg started to grow exponentially thanks to the loyal policy of Emperor Alexander II. At that time, it became evident that there was a need to construct a synagogue.
In 1869, the Emperor granted permission to construct the Synagogue to replace the existing chapels. However, the leaders of the community had a hard time finding the right spot for the new construction. According to the Emperor’s order, the Synagogue could not be anywhere close to Orthodox churches. After 10 years of never-ending searches, the community managed to get permission to purchase land for the construction of the Synagogue.
The project of the building was approved only in 1883, and the construction was completed in five years. After that, the Synagogue became not only a place for prayers, but it was also a place of gathering for the Jewish community.
During the Soviet times, the Synagogue was closed and reopened several times, but it was restored in the early 1980s when it was turned into the center of the revival of Jewish religious life in Leningrad. Nowadays, the Synagogue is a true center of the Jewish community of Saint-Petersburg. You are welcome to visit the Synagogue during their religious services, as well as any time during the week to admire the beauty of its architecture.