Central Synagogue :: New York City :: 360° Virtual Tour

Central Synagogue is located at 55th St. and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. Built in 1872 in the Moorish Revival style as a copy of Budapest’s Dohány Street Synagogue, it pays homage to the Jewish existence in Moorish Spain. It has been in continuous use by a congregation longer than any other in the city, and is among the oldest synagogue buildings still standing in the United States. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on May 15, 1975.

Designed by Henry Fernbach of Germany, the design is loosely called “Moorish-Islamic Revival”. The synagogue was built by Congregation Ahawath Chesed, a German Reform congregation meeting under that name on Ludlow street from 1846.

The building was meticulously restored by 2001 in the original style after an accidental fire in August 1998. The roof and its supports were destroyed as a result of the fire.

This polychoromatic masonry building is the oldest synagogue in continuous use in New York City. It was executed in an eclectic, rough-hewn Moorish style popular for synagogues of the late 1800s.

The Exterior is dominated by two octagonal towers rising 122 feet. They are meant to be reminiscences of Solomon’s Temple. The towers are topped onion-shaped, green copper domes. There is one large rose window accompanied by many smaller arched windows.

The Interior has beautifully stenciled designs of red, blue, and ochre. Cast iron columns separate the inside into three sections. There is also colorful plates published by the English designer and colorist, Owen Jones.