Visiting the Great Synagogue of Brussels, Belgium: Romanesque-Byzantine structure by Désiré De Keyser, dating from 1878
An imposing Downtown presence
As I passed by, this imposing building, with a strongly two-dimensional sense to its main frontage, looked to me very much like a typical ecclesiastical building, to the extent of having a rose window feature, in common with many cathedrals. But in fact, it is a synagogue: sometimes known as the Great Synagogue of Brussels (French: Grand Synagogue de Bruxelles; Dutch: Grote synagoge van Brussel).
Planned from 1875, it was completed in 1878, executed in Romanesque-Byzantine style. Prominent features include twin towers, an pediment above the already mentioned rose window and a profusion of Syrian arches, some of which are concentrated within the pediment.
The building's architect was Désiré de Keyser (1).
The building has a central location in Downtown Brussels, at 32, rue de la Régence / Regentschapstraat (2). The gigantic Palace of Justice (French: Palais de Justice; Dutch: Justitiepaleis) is a very conspicuous nearby structure. The building is a neighbour of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels (French: Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles; Dutch: Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel).
Recently the Synagogue changed its name to Great Synagogue of Europe (French: Grande Synagogue de l'Europe; Dutch: Grote Synagoge van Europa).
On a solemn note, Belgium's Jewish population was decimated in World War Two after the Nazi German invasion of 1940 led to mass deportations and killings: it is estimated that 25,000 Jews residing in Belgium perished during this period (3).
August 7, 2015
(1) Other works by Architect De Keyser include the Union du Crédit building and restoration work on the city's ancient walls.
(2) A Dutch form is occasionally written also: Regentiestraat.
(3) Centuries previously, in 1370 the clerically-inspired Brussels massacre of Jews occurred.
Some sourcing: Wikipedia.
Also worth seeing
In Brussels itself, there are very many visitor attractions and these are not easy to summarize adequately; but included among these are: the Grand' Place; the Royal St. Hubert Galleries; the Cathedral of Saint-Michel / Sint-Michiel ; the Koekelberg Basilica; the Royal Palace, the Palace of Justice, the opulent Stock Exchange building, the Erasmus House museum, Anderlecht, and many others.
How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel-Nationaal / Bruxelles-National), from where car rental is available. However, the Metro is a very convenient way of getting around Brussels. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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