Uzhgorod Synagogue – Transformed into the Uzhgorod Concert Hall
The Byzantine architectural style developed during the 19th century. Its distinct characteristics relate typically to the multi-colored artwork and ornate style of architecture used in a religious form. During the same era, in the mid-19th century, another style was beginning to develop since its first appearance in the 8th and 16th century where it was made popular in Spain and termed ‘Moorish’. The ‘Moorish’ style features ornate or curved decorations used in the construction of buildings.
During this time the ‘Moorish style’ was being adopted by Jews based in Central Europe, thus a Moorish revival began to take place globally as the preferred style in synagogue architecture. This was specifically true in the case of the American and European architects during the rise of the Romanticist fascination with all things ‘oriental’. One fine example of the collective use of the Byzantine and Moorish elements is that of the Uzhgorod Synagogue dedicated in 1910 and designed by two of the leading Austro-Hungarian architects, Frigyes Feszel and Ludwig Forster.
Since World War Two the Jewish synagogue in Ukraine has been forgotten as a religious institute with all related symbols removed. Instead it has taken on a new persona and is now commonly known as the famed ‘Uzhgorod Concert hall’. Uzhgorod Synagogue was adopted as a concert hall due to its amazing acoustics. The Ukrainian concert hall is home to the talented Regional Philharmonic Society and the Trans Carpathian Folk Choir.
You may wonder how a Jewish Synagogue is to be found in the Ukraine. Nevertheless, when we look back in history you will notice that during the 8th Century an influx of Jewish refugees moved into Ukraine, this was the product of harsh persecution dealt by many Christians throughout Europe. The result: Uzhgorod became a city renowned for its dominant Jewish influence in the field of learning as well as its intense Jewish Zionist and national activities. Today, much of this can be seen in the architecture that surrounds the Uzhgorod Synagogue.