Discover the hidden heritage treasures of Jewish Budapest, Hungary

Share with your friend

    Friend’s name: *

    Friend’s email: *

    Your name: *

    Your email: *

    Subject: *


    CAPTCHA: captcha

    Budapest, Hungary, left an indelible impression as the most captivating and unforgettable city I’ve ever had the privilege to explore. Its rich historical tapestry and unparalleled beauty made a profound impact on me. My visit to Budapest was part of a Jewish heritage press tour, and it’s no wonder that this city is often hailed as “the Paris of the East,” a title it truly deserves.

    Over the course of a week, I had the opportunity to uncover why Budapest is held in such high regard. Our journey began with a warm welcome at the splendid Corinthia Budapest Hotel, a five-star gem meticulously restored to cater to the modern traveler’s desires. Nestled in the heart of the city, this iconic building boasts exceptional bars and restaurants, generously spacious rooms, and the opulent Royal Spa. Here, you can luxuriate in spa treatments, bask in a rejuvenating jacuzzi, and surrender to the soothing embrace of a sauna for the ultimate relaxation experience.

    Nestled in the heart of Europe, Budapest, a city of immense beauty, is home to the continent’s third-largest Jewish community, numbering approximately 100,000 strong. The threads of Jewish history in this city stretch back to the times of ancient Rome, and the Jewish populace has consistently played pivotal roles in shaping Budapest’s economic, political, and cultural landscape.

    Among its remarkable landmarks is the Dohany Street Synagogue, a true architectural marvel and the largest of its kind in Europe. Adjacent to it stands the poignant Holocaust Memorial, a solemn tribute to the more than 600,000 Jewish lives lost during the harrowing reign of Nazi terror. The Jewish Museum, housing an impressive collection of artifacts and documents related to Hungary’s Jewish heritage, offers a deep dive into this rich history.

    Budapest, a radiant jewel adorning the Danube’s necklace, warmly welcomes visitors with a vibrant atmosphere and a wealth of Jewish heritage to explore. The city is also renowned for its distinctive art nouveau architecture, which seamlessly weaves in colorful Hungarian folk motifs. Notable examples of this style include the Applied Arts Museum on Ulloi ut, the transformation of the Gresham Palace on the Pest side of the Chain Bridge into a luxury hotel, the buildings in and around Szabadsag Square, including the Postal Bank on Hold St., and the Theater on Paulay Edy Street.

    Royal Spa-Corinthia Hotel Budapest: New York Jewish Travel Guide

    Exploring Budapest’s Synagogues

    When venturing into Budapest’s Old Jewish District, nestled in the historic heart of the city, you’ll find yourself in a bustling, triangular area that encapsulates the rich history of Hungarian Jewry and Budapest itself. As you wander through the labyrinthine streets of this quarter, you’ll not only uncover the stories of the past but also glimpse into the vibrant life of today.

    The Great Synagogue, Dohány Street Synagogue

    The Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as The Great Synagogue or Tabakgasse Synagogue, is an architectural gem located in Erzsébetváros, Budapest’s 7th district. This historic edifice holds the distinction of being not only the largest synagogue in Europe but also one of the grandest on a global scale. Its grandeur is mirrored in its capacity to seat an impressive 3,000 people and its pivotal role as a center of Neolog Judaism.

    The complex surrounding the Dohány Street Synagogue is a veritable treasure trove of Jewish history and culture. It encompasses not only the Great Synagogue but also the Heroes’ Temple, a tranquil graveyard, a moving memorial, and the Jewish Museum. Remarkably, the Jewish Museum stands on the very spot where Theodor Herzl, a key figure in the Zionist movement, was born, adding another layer of historical significance to this sacred site.

    Dohány Street Synagogue: New York Jewish Travel Guide

    Jewish Museum

    The Jewish Museum stands proudly on the grounds once occupied by Theodor Herzl’s two-story, classicist-style residence, adjacent to the Dohány Synagogue. This museum, an architectural gem, was erected in 1930 in harmony with the synagogue’s distinctive architectural style and seamlessly integrated with the main building in 1931. It houses a remarkable assortment known as the Jewish Religious and Historical Collection, which includes relics from the Pest Hevrah Kadisha (Jewish Burial Society), ritual artifacts used during Shabbat and the High Holidays, and a solemn Holocaust room.

    Jewish Cemetery

    During the tumultuous year of 1944, the Dohány Street Synagogue became an integral part of the Jewish Ghetto, providing refuge for numerous Jews. Tragically, the harsh winter of 1944–1945 took a heavy toll, and more than two thousand individuals who succumbed to hunger and cold within the confines of the ghetto now rest in eternal peace within the synagogue’s courtyard.

    photo 3 (3)

    “Gravestones of those reburied”—New York Jewish Travel Guide

    The Heroes’ Temple: The New York Jewish Travel Guide

    Heroes’ TempleThe Heroes’ Temple, with a seating capacity of 250 individuals, was incorporated into the Dohány Street Synagogue complex in 1931. This exquisite structure, meticulously designed by Lázlo Vágó and Ferenc Faragó, serves as a poignant memorial dedicated to the Hungarian Jewish community members who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I. It is actively utilized for religious gatherings on weekdays and throughout the winter season.

    photo 1 (11)

    Monuments to Rescuers – New York Jewish Travel Guide

    Our visit to these monuments in Budapest was profoundly moving and touched the hearts of many. These monuments pay tribute to the righteous Gentiles who, during the Nazi occupation, courageously aided Jews by providing them with false documents, ultimately saving lives.

    In a heartfelt tribute to those who lost their lives, a memorial crafted by the sculptor Imre Varga stands as a weeping willow tree in the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park. This solemn sculpture bears the names and tattoo numbers of the individuals who tragically disappeared during the Holocaust. Nestled in the rear courtyard, the Raoul Wallenberg Emlékpark, or Memory Park, houses the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs—a poignant and enduring testament to the harrowing reality that over 600,000 Hungarian Jews were mercilessly murdered by the Nazis.

    photo 2 (5)

    “Willow memorial tree” – New York Jewish Travel Guide

    Among the nations, several individuals displayed exceptional courage during the Holocaust:

    • Swiss Vice-Consul Carl Lutz,
    • Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian man who ingeniously posed as the Spanish consul, providing protection documents and current passports to Jews in Budapest, ultimately saving five thousand lives,
    • Mons. Angelo Rotta, an Italian Prelate Bishop, and Apostolic Nuncio of the Vatican City State in Budapest, issued protective documents, false baptism certificates to shield Jews from forced labor, and Vatican passports to Jews without discrimination, ultimately saving 15,000 lives. His secretary, Mons. Gennaro Verolino further aided in rescuing tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II.

    Kozma Utca Jewish Cemetery, situated on the outskirts of Budapest, neighbors a substantial general and special Catholic cemetery. Since its establishment in 1891, it has been the final resting place for over 300,000 individuals of Jewish heritage. This cemetery remains active and bears witness to the passage of time. In addition to its impressive crypts from the early 20th century, it features various noteworthy monuments, including one dedicated to Holocaust victims. Among those interred here, one finds the resting places of notable Hungarians of Jewish descent, such as the renowned architect Béla Lajta (1873–1920) and Hungary’s first Olympic gold medalist, Alfréd Hájos (1875–1955).

    Kozma Jewish Cemetery – New York Jewish Travel Guide

    The Holocaust Memorial Center stands as a poignant tribute to the victims of the Hungarian Holocaust. This comprehensive complex, inaugurated in 2004, encompasses a synagogue, a museum, and an inner courtyard graced by a glass memorial wall bearing the names of over 500,000 victims. These names are solemnly inscribed on the wall, preserving their memory for generations to come. Inside the museum, a permanent exhibition offers a compelling narrative of the Holocaust, told through the personal stories of individuals, presented in an interactive and engaging manner. The exhibition also showcases original documents and personal belongings, providing a tangible connection to this tragic chapter in history.

    Additionally, the Jewish Summer Festival, which takes place from August through September, is a vibrant cultural celebration born out of the initiative of the Jewish Community of Budapest. This festival, organized by the Jewish Tourism and Cultural Center, had the iconic Dohány Street Synagogue, Europe’s largest and one of its most beautiful, serving as its central hub. Over the years, the festival has gained international recognition, attracting renowned artists from Europe and around the world.

    photo 4 (1)

    The Jewish Summer Festival – New York Jewish Travel Guide

    Explore the world of Rachel Raj Flodni as she shares her expertise in crafting the perfect Flodni, a cherished Eastern European Jewish delicacy. Join us at her bakery for an enriching experience where you’ll uncover the secrets to making this traditional Hungarian Jewish cake.

    During this immersive session, participants will have the opportunity to delve into Rachel’s family heritage and learn how to master her time-honored Flodni recipe. This delectable treat is characterized by its rich combination of poppy seeds, apples, walnuts, and homemade plum jam—a harmonious blend of flavors that captures the essence of Jewish culinary tradition.

    Prepare to embark on a culinary journey as Rachel guides you through the art of creating the perfect Flodni, ensuring that each bite resonates with the authentic tastes and textures of this beloved dessert.

    photo 1 (1)

    Rachel Raj Flodni – New York Jewish Travel Guide


    To reserve your Shabbat dinner experience with Rabbi Shmuel Raskin, please contact him at or visit their website at

    To plan a trip to Hungary, contact the Visit Hungarian National Tourist Office or log on to

    To make a hotel reservation, email or go to

    This article and its accompanying photography were generously contributed by Meyer Harroch from the New York Jewish Guide and New York Jewish Travel Guide. The author participated in a press trip sponsored by the Hungarian Tourism Board.


    You must be logged in to post a comment Login