The Ashkenazi Synagogue

Strada C.A. Rosetti nr. 2, Constanța
  • Built in 1911, architect Adolf Linz, Moorish style
  • C.A. Rosetti Street, no. 2, Constanța

Built in 1911, by the design of Adolf Linz (who also designed, at the beginning of the 20th century, nearly 50 other Constanța houses), in the Moorish style, the building also somewhat indicates a Chaldean influence. It was the initiative of Pincus Șapira, furnisher of the Royal Family of Romania and important clock and jewelry trader and, over a century, the Ashkenazi Synagogue went through several vicissitudes.

For instance, between 1941 and 1944, the building was turned into a German military warehouse, being used to store military hardware, non perishable food for the soldiers on the Eastern front and horse food. After 1944, it was partially rebuilt and given back to the religious circuit.

In 1908 on the present day Mircea cel Bătrân Street, on no. 18, the Constanța Jews of the Sephardic (Spanish) rite built their own temple: a monumental building, of Gothic influence, splendidly integrated into the area, in the immediate vicinity of the Greek church, “Schimbarea la față’ (Metamorfosis) and of the Armenian Church. Over the area of several streets, all bordered by the sea, the city encapsulated a splendid option of diversity and tolerance. The Sephardic Temple as well, same as it’s religious sister building on C.A. Rosetti. no, 2, was turned, between 1941-1944, into a military warehouse for food, clothing and harnesses.

After the installation of communist power, the Temple was partially repaired (it suffered as a result of the earthquake of November 1940) and given back to the community. During the 80’s of the last century it was demolished, without any protest or regret, and the local authorities built a parking lot in it’s stead.

There was, for over three decades, only one synagogue in Constanța. And this one is, currently, a ruin. At the entrance, the monumental wooden doors, with (once) splendid mosaic stained glass, are nearly destroyed. The massive wooden shelter, at the entrance, which used to cover the walls, was long ago utilized as firewood.

After passing the threshold, one is overwhelmed by the beauty of the remaining arabesques, of an unreal blue and red, with massive, well proportioned and ingeniously assigned columns.

The ceiling is not there anymore, it fell down. Also, all the woodwork and hardware were stolen.

The building is part of the patrimony of the Jewish Community of Constanța, and the National Investment Company assigned funds for the building’s rehabilitation, but the project is being halted because of bureaucracy.

The Ashkenazi Synagogue is the only place of worship of the Confessional Octagon of the Constanța Peninsula that is not on the official list of historic monuments.

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