The synagogue in Grodno is the oldest of all operating in the post-Soviet space. It is recognized as the most beautiful synagogue in Europe. And yet, a hundred years ago there were about 44 temples in Grodno.
The Great Choral Synagogue, or as it is also called, the Main Synagogue, has a long history that dates back to the 16th century. On the site of the present building, there was already a wooden structure, which was called a synagogue. Mordechai Jaffe, who at that time was a rabbi in the city, invited the Italian architect Santi Gucci to design a new building. However, the fire that happened in 1617 completely destroyed it. After some time, the Polish King Sigismund II allowed the Jews to build a new synagogue, but it did not last long, repeating the fate of the previous church. After this fire in 1899, the synagogue reminded only the surviving hall for prayers. Honestly, the Grodno Jews got very much from fires, which repeatedly brought troubles to their families. But each time they built the temple anew.
The building of amazing beauty represents a symbiosis of the Italian style with others. In the middle is a sanctuary decorated with unique figures from plaster. The synagogue was very popular among parishioners, and even a choir with a soloist functioned with it.
During the Great Patriotic War, the synagogue was plundered, its walls were badly damaged by military weapons, and the Nazis used the building for a meeting of Jews before they were shot or sent to a concentration camp.
In the post-war period before this building, no one was concerned, it was not repaired, but used as a warehouse for a food factory, and then for art workshops. In 1991, the authorities transferred the building to the possession of a religious community in Grodno, and again the Jews started reconstruction by their own forces, which continue today.
Despite the fact that repairs are underway, the synagogue receives daily services, festive meetings, classes and meetings. Gradually restored is water supply, electricity, sewerage. While there is no heating, and in winter it is very cold there. This is the only synagogue in Belarus, where almost completely restored the original decoration of the hall for prayers. And all this through the efforts of the community.
The big synagogue is interesting for tourists not only from Belarus, but also from all over the world. It also houses the Jewish Museum.