The opinion of most visitors leaving the Tempel Synagogue can be summed up in one word: impressive. The synagogue witnessed a great rebirth during the 1990s following the efforts of the World Monuments Fund, the city of Krakow and the Jewish community. A truly magnificent building, it is used to host concerts including the opening concert of the Jewish Festival.
The last synagogue to be built in Kazimierz, it was completed in 1862 in response to the needs of the growing number of reform Jews. Different in approach from the other synagogues in Kazimierz, sermons were given not only in Hebrew and Polish, but in German as well. Unlike the other synagogues, choir singing and organ music were also a feature of services at the synagogue.
The beautiful interior was destroyed during the Second World War and the building used for storage purposes and as a horse stables. German soldiers also covered some parts of the building in a thick layer of paint. Although religious services resumed after the war, by the 1970s services were infrequent, and by the early 1980s they had practically stopped. Like so many other buildings in Kazimierz, the synagogue was in a state of disrepair and ruin. Thankfully, the renovation returned the building to its former pre-war state.
The imposing doors at the entrance to the synagogue open to reveal a small entrance hall. The comparative modesty of this area gives no indication of the amazing beauty awaiting the visitor in the main section of the building.
The interior certainly doesn't disappoint, visitors are met with an explosion of colour and intricate designs. A set of chandeliers, floral patterns on the ceilings and stained glass windows all add to the atmosphere. Its two floors (the women's gallery is located on the upper floor) and sheer size of the building can make visitors feel insignificant.
The synagogue's most striking feature is the Aron Kodesh, or Holy Ark. The biggest in Kazimierz, a highly decorative cupola extends over it in a form that might remind people of a church.
Anyone who comes to Kazimierz during the Jewish Festival, or when the International Music Festival takes place, is advised to try and see a concert in the synagogue. The synagogue's design, atmosphere and acoustics make for an unforgettable concert experience.
Opening times and prices:
The synagogue is open from 10:00am to 6:00pm apart from Saturdays, public holidays and Jewish holidays. Opening times can also vary given the time of year. Entry costs 5 zloty for adults and 2 zloty for students. Please note that men are expected to wear a yarmulke (provided) and women should have their shoulders covered when entering the building.