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The Semper Synagogue, also known as the Dresden Synagogue, designed by Gottfried

Semper and built from 1838 to 1840, was dedicated on 8 May 1840.[1] It was an early
example of the Moorish Revival style of synagogue architecture.

1 History and destruction
2 Architecture
2.1 Interior
2.2 Exterior
3 Eternal light
4 Historical importance
5 New Synagogue
6 References
7 External links
History and destruction
The synagogue was destroyed in 1938 on Kristallnacht. Members of the SA and SS
burned down the synagogue on the night of 9 November 1938, almost one hundred years
after the opening of the synagogue. A few days after the burning, the ruins were
carried away "professionally" and the bill to cover these costs was handed to the
Jewish congregation. A film made by the "Technischen Hilfswerk" documented the
efficient removal of the building.[2] All that remains of the synagogue is the Star
of David which was designed by Semper, which Alfred Neugebauer, a fireman, removed
from the burning rooftop, hid and returned to the congregation in 1949.


Interior of the Synagogue in 1898

While the exterior was Romanesque, its interior featured the richly ornamented
style that was to become the hallmark of Moorish Revival architecture. The
elaborate Arabic-style interior had a two-tiered balcony supported by columns
copied from the Alhambra. The arches and balcony fronts were richly worked with
intricate polychrome foliate and lattice designs in the Moorish style.[3] According
to Harry Frances Mallgrave, most of the ornaments "were painted on the plaster
surfaces in imitation of more costly materials."[4]

The synagogue was situated along the old city ramparts, along the river, some five
hundred meters from the new theatre (known as the Semperoper) that Gottfried Semper
was constructing at the same time he built the synagogue. The building was
purposely designed to be modest, as Chief Rabbi Dr Zacharias Frankel said at the
opening ceremony: "we were not driven by the desire to brag with an opulent
building; rather we wanted to find an appropriate place of worship, (...) where we
show ourselves before God in devout communion."[5] The synagogue was a plain cube
structure, built in a Romanesque style with a humble vestibule and twin towers that
marked the entrance to the building.

Eternal light
The interior design included furnishings - all designed by Semper, who considered
each project as a Gesamtkunstwerk.[6] For the synagogue he created a Ner Tamid -
silver lamp of eternal light, placed before the Torah scrolls,[7] which caught
Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima's fancy. They gave a great deal of effort to
procure a copy of this lamp.[8][9]

Historical importance
Semper was the first architect to borrow the Moorish iconography for a synagogue.
His countless imitators and followers include Semper's student Otto Simonson, who
would construct the magnificent Moorish Revival Leipzig synagogue in 1855, and
Adolf Wolff[10], who built the Great Synagogue of L�dz and synagogues in N�rnberg,
Stuttgart, Helbronn and Ulm. Many other architects of the late 19th century
followed the style of this synagogue.

New Synagogue
The New Synagogue, inaugurated in 2001, was erected next to the site of the Semper
synagogue where a monument showing a six branch menorah stands in memory of the six
million Jews murdered by the Nazis.