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Grand Synagogue of Edirne

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Welcome to the Grand Synagogue of Edirne, also known as the Adrianople Synagogue (Hebrew: קל קדוש הגדול, Turkish: Edirne Büyük Sinagogu). Nestled in Maarif Street of Edirne, Turkey, this historic Sephardi synagogue stands as a testament to resilience and faith.

The roots of the Grand Synagogue trace back to the devastating 1905 Great Fire of Adrianople, which razed over 1,500 houses and left numerous synagogues in ruins. In response to the urgent need for a place of worship, the Ottoman Government, under the edict of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, granted permission for the construction of a new synagogue.

Designed by the French architect France Depré in the Moorish Revival style, reminiscent of the Sephardi Leopoldstädter Tempel in Vienna, Austria, the Grand Synagogue began its journey on January 6, 1906. The construction took three years, and on the eve of Pesach (Passover) in April 1909, the doors opened to a congregation of up to 1,200 worshipers, making it Europe’s third-largest temple and the largest in Turkey.

However, in 1983, the synagogue faced abandonment as the majority of the Jewish community departed from Edirne, emigrating to Israel, Europe, or North America. In 1995, the temple came under the jurisdiction of the Turkish Foundations Institution by law.

After years of neglect, the Grand Synagogue of Edirne underwent a remarkable transformation. The Turkish Foundations Institution undertook a meticulous restoration, investing ₺5,750,000 (approximately US$2.5 million on that time) to revive the synagogue and its outbuilding. The culmination of this effort was marked by the reopening ceremony on March 26, 2015, attended by a diverse congregation, including prominent figures such as Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, leader of the Jewish community in Turkey, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, and other Turkish officials.

The restoration not only revived the physical structure but also rejuvenated the spirit of the synagogue. The Municipality of Edirne welcomed back the synagogue’s guests with a heartfelt banner in the street, proclaiming, “Welcome home, our old neighbors.”

Today, the Grand Synagogue of Edirne stands as a beacon of cultural heritage, inviting visitors to explore its rich history, architectural beauty, and the enduring spirit of unity and resilience that defines this sacred place.

 

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