Vienna City Prayer House

Wednesday, 14 April 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General

© Bic/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Bic/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Stadttempel (English: City Prayer House), also called the Seitenstettengasse Temple, is the main synagogue of Vienna, Austria. It is located in the Innere Stadt 1st district, at Seitenstettengasse 4. The synagogue was constructed from 1824 to 1826. The luxurious Stadttempel was fitted into a block of houses and hidden from plain view of the street, because of an edict issued by Emperor Joseph II that only Roman Catholic places of worship were allowed to be built with facades fronting directly on to public streets. This edict saved the synagogue from total destruction during the Kristallnacht in November 1938, since the synagogue could not be destroyed without setting on fire the buildings to which it was attached. The Stadttempel was the only synagogue in the city to survive World War II, as German paramilitary troops with the help of local authorities destroyed all of the other 93 synagogues and Jewish prayer-houses in Vienna. The Jewish community in Vienna today has about 7,000 members and thus represents the largest part of the Jews living in Austria. The Jewish Museum Vienna offers guided tours of the city temple.

The synagogue was designed in elegant Biedermeier style by the Viennese architect Joseph Kornhäusel, architect to Johann I Joseph, Prince of Liechtenstein, for whom he had built palaces, theaters and other buildings. Construction was supervised by the official municipal architect, Jacob Heinz. Two five-story apartment houses, Numbers 2 and 4 Seitenstettengasse, were built at the same time as the synagogue, designed by the architect to screen the synagogue from the street in compliance with the Patent of Toleration, which permitted members of tolerated faiths to worship in clandestine churches, but not in buildings with facades on public streets. The synagogue is structurally attached to the apartment building at # 4 Seitenstettengasse.

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The synagogue itself is in the form of an oval. A ring of twelve Ionic columns support a two-tiered women’s gallery. Originally, the galleries ended one column away from the Torah Ark, they were later extended to the columns beside the ark to provide more seating. The building is domed and lit by a lantern in the center of the dome, in classic Biedermeyer style. A commemorative glass made at the time of the synagogue’s dedication and etched with a detailed image of the synagogue’s interior is now in the collection of the Jewish Museum (New York).

The synagogue underwent renovation in 1895 and again in 1904 by the Jewish architect Wilhelm Stiassny, adding considerable ornamentation, and, in the opinion of architectural historian Rachel Wischnitzer, “the serene harmony of the design was spoiled by renovations.” Damage inflicted on Kristallnacht was repaired in 1949. The “Stadttempel” was renovated once again in 1963 by Prof. Otto Niedermoser.

Read more on Jewish Community of Vienna and Wikipedia Stadttempel (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.








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