Jewish Museum Vienna – Visit Vienna Synagogue

Jewish Museum Vienna
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Vienna is one European city with a rich Jewish history. Here you’re going to learn more about Jewish Museum Vienna, Jewish community, and Vienna synagogue.

Since the Middle Ages, the Austrian capital has been a refuge to numerous Jews who settled in the city notably on the Danube area.

A significant part of Vienna’s history is the presence of the Jewish people many of whom came from neighboring Germany. That’s because they fled from the Nazis. This is the reason why a Jewish community exists in the Austrian capital. 

Other testaments of Jewish presence in the city are:

  • the Holocaust Memorial
  • the Jewish Museum in Judenplatz

Stadttempel Vienna Synagogue

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This is the main synagogue in Vienna’s first district. The building was hidden in a block of houses and therefore not easily seen from the main street.

Situated in the first district specifically at Seitenstettengasse 4. This is the only synagogue that survived the pogrom in 1938. The Stadttempel complex is also home to the offices of the Vienna Jewish community. The Vienna Chief Rabbi, the editorial offices of the Die Gemeinde, a community newspaper, and the Jewish community center. The Jewish Museum and a kosher restaurant are here as well.

Some 7,000 Jewish people continue to do their worship service in this certified historic monument.  A memorial is featured in the foyer with names of the thousands of Jews killed by the German Nazis on rotating slate tablets. Also in the center of the memorial is a column made from granite symbolizing the Jewish community. 

On Friday evenings, you can find orthodox Jews in Vienna trek to this nondescript building in Seitenstettengasse. It looks unremarkable from the outside. The building actually houses the oldest and the central place of worship for the Jewish community in Vienna. That’s the elegant Stadttempel Synagogue.

Stadttempel Synagogue Visitors

Visitors to the Stadttempel Synagogue need to bring an ID and clear security checks before entry. At the foyer is a memorial for the 65,000 Austrian Jewish victims during World War II with their names engraved on rotating slate tablets.

Inside the oval-shaped prayer hall can be found 12 yellow Ionic columns that support a two-tiered women’s gallery. The dome-shaped ceiling was painted to look like the skies done in blue. There are golden stars and a lantern in the center.

On the west side of the synagogue stands the double-level Torah Ark. It was done in Baroque style and the Tablets of the Law are adorned with a golden sunburst. The synagogue seats about 500 people.

Jewish Museum Vienna opening hours (The Judenplatz)

Days Hours
Sunday to Thursday10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 
SaturdayClosed

Jewish Museum Vienna Tickets

CategoryPrice
Adults € 12
Seniors from 65 years € 10
Students up to 27 years€ 8
Children (18 and under)Free

Jewish Museum Vienna at The Judenplatz

Jewish Museum Vienna experience
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The Judenplatz Museum located at Judenplatz 8 showcases the history of Jews in Vienna during the Middle Ages. It also houses the Misrachi synagogue on the first floor. Another museum is in the basement which offers archaeological findings from the excavations on Judenplatz.

It features as well a multi-media presentation of:

  • Jewish life in the Middle Ages
  • a medieval city model
  • information about the medieval synagogue

It covers the first Jewish settlements which date back to the 11th century as well as the major expulsions of Jews from 1420-1421 known as the Vienna Geserah.   

A must-experience area in Vienna is the Jewish community in Innere Stadt. Specifically, it is referred to as Judenplatz, a name it earned in the 13th century when it was first designated as a Jewish area.

This community is the epicenter of Jewish life in Vienna and if you’re visiting this place, it would be best to drop by the Museum Judenplatz or the Misrachi-Haus.

A branch of the Vienna Jewish Museum, this tourist attraction built in 1694. There you can learn about the role of Jews in the city’s development. And learn more about their experiences during the Second World War.

The Underground Synagogue

Apart from the main museum, visitors can also take a glimpse of the relics of the Medieval (Mittelalterliche) Synagogue in the underground, considered to be one of the world’s largest.

Built in the mid-13th century, this is where Jewish life began in the Austrian capital. It was, however, torn down in the 14th century. The foundation walls under the Judenplatz Square were uncovered by archaeologists in 1995.

In the Jewish Museum Vienna the tour starts on the ground floor which takes visitors back to 1945 until today. The second floor of Palais Eskeles features Jewish history from its early beginnings in 1938. 

The permanent exhibitions are spread out in three sections. The Display Depot displays the collections of various people including Max Berger. The Studio is a workshop and at the same time, an exhibition space for ritual everyday objects. The Our City or Unsere Stadt is the newest addition which was opened in November 2013.

This area provides a comprehensive view into the life of the Jewish since their arrival in Vienna up to the present day. Various programs for children, school classes, and young audiences are being offered by the museum now led by Dr Danielle Spera.

She is a former journalist of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation. A bookshop and cafe are also in place on the ground floor. 

Jewish Museum Vienna Opening Hours (Dorotheergasse 11)

DaysHours
Sunday to Friday10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
SaturdaysClosed

The Jewish Museum Vienna at Dorotheergasse

Jewish Museum Vienna tour
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The Jewish Museum of the City of Vienna is another building with Jewish history. Located in an old mansion at Dorotheergasse 11, the place showcases the history of Jews in the Austrian capital.

A highlight of the exhibition here is the Judaica Collection by Max Berger. The collection takes into account the Jewish life in the context of the Shoah. And looks into the post-war developments from the perspective of Berger’s personal story.

On the third floor is the Show Depot which houses ritual objects saved from the various synagogues in Jewish Vienna destroyed during the pogroms in 1938.

The Shoa Memorial still at Judenplatz pays tribute to the victims of the Shoah. Designed by British artist Rachel Whiteread and measuring 10 by 7 meters and almost 4 meters high, the concrete cube which was unveiled in October 2000 symbolizes library walls that are facing outwards.

Inscribed on the ground surrounding the memorial are the names of places where 65,000 Austrian Jews were killed.

Jewish Tours Vienna

There are private Jewish Tours Vienna that you can take.

Or you can take walking Jewish tours at Holocaust Memorial for example.

Holocaust Memorial. Located at the Judenplatz. This memorial pays tribute to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who were killed during the German occupation. Also named as the Nameless Library, the memorial is made from steel and concrete. It’s named as a library because the exterior surface shows cast library shelves turned inside out. 

Jewish Life in Vienna

Jewish Museum in Vienna
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Not many people know that Jewish Vienna’s community was one of the largest in Europe before 1938. During that time, some 185,000 Jews were living in the city.

After the Second World War, a small yet active community reestablished itself once more. At the end of the 1990s, there were barely more than 7000 registered members of Vienna’s Jewish community. [Source] Many of them came from Eastern European countries. A 2001 census noted a total of 8,140 Jews in Austria with 6,988 of them residing in Vienna.

Jewish Theater of Austria – Founded in 1999, the Jewish Theater fosters intercultural dialogue and the demystification of the unfamiliar through artistic exploration.

Memorial against War and Fascism. This memorial is situated at the Albertinaplatz and features four statues. The split white monument called The Gates of Violence pays tribute to victims of all wars and violence. Including the Jewish people killed by the Nazis. 

More About The Holocaust Memorial

A visit to the Holocaust Memorial should also be in your itinerary. The memorial situated in the area was based on the idea of Simon Wiesenthal. It was built by British artist Rachel Whiteread and unveiled to the public in 2000. It is displayed as a concrete cube that resembles a library but the volumes are turned inside out. 

Also within the square is the monument in honor of the German poet Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Built by Siegfried Charoux, the original sculpture was unveiled in 1935 but was, unfortunately, demolished. The second one made of bronze was unveiled in 1968 at Ruprechtskirche. Then it’s moved to Judenplatz in 1981.

Jewish Quarter Vienna Jewish Community

Jewish community
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The Leopoldstadt in the second district is well known for its Jewish settlers and institutions. Reports have it that eight Ashkenazi and three Sephardic synagogues or prayer houses in this district of the city.

Jewish institutions existing here are the Jewish Vocational Education Center, prayer rooms, ritual baths, the new IKG campus, and the Lauder Chabad Campus. Jewish shops, kosher supermarkets, butchers, bakers, restaurants, and snack bars are in place as well.  

But apart from this place, there are other areas that feature Jewish structures and memorials such as:

  • the Jewish Museum of the City of Vienna
  • the Schoenberg Center
  • Sigmund Freud House
  • the Memorial against War
  • Fascism on Albertinaplatz
  • the Shoah Memorial

The Dorotheergasse and the Judenplatz Square in the first district are home to various Jewish museums and memorials.

Then there’s the Jüdisches Museum in the Palais Eskeles founded in 1896 making it the world’s oldest museum of its kind. While this building was closed by the Nazis in 1938, it was reopened in 1989.

This particular museum has four floors featuring different kinds of exhibition.

The Leopoldster Temple Vienna Synagogue

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The second synagogue in the city was the Leopoldster Temple which was consecrated in 1858. In addition to this, Vienna had 40 other smaller shuls and minyans. In total, 93 synagogues have been established in Vienna.  

The Old City Hall, meanwhile, is where the Documentation Archives of the Austrian Resistance can be found. The archives contain the documents that recorded the crimes of National Socialism. Also, there was information on more than 62,000 Austrian holocaust victims.

Vienna Konzerthaus

vienna synagogue
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Another building in Jewish Vienna boasting of rich Jewish history is the Vienna Konzerthaus. It should be noted that among the founders and patrons of this structure were Jewish families belonging to the middle class.

The Ring Boulevard also features numerous mansions many of which were owned by Jewish families in the past.

Volkshochscule

Today, the Jewish Institute for Adult Education (Volkshochscule) located at Praterstern is one important institution in Vienna. It offers various courses including kosher cookery, Israeli folk dancing, Klezmer music and Yiddish courses. These are even open for non-Jews interested to learn about Judaism.

Central Jewish Cemetery

Jewish residents of Vienna who pass on also have a specific final resting place designated for them. There is a large cemetery found in the Central Cemetery.

There’s an old Jewish cemetery that contains the graves of prominent Viennese Jews at the first gate. And a new cemetery with the ceremonial hall is situated in the fourth part.

At this grave site, there is a Jewish section. The tombs here date back to the time before 1938.

Early Jewish Settlement – Jewish Vienna

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It was in the Middle Ages or more than 800 years ago when the Jews first settled in Vienna. Particularly on the Danube and even at that time, the Jewish community in the city was already large.

Despite two major expulsions, they continued to stay in the Austrian capital. By the end of the 19th century and during the start of the 20th century, Vienna became one of the most prominent centers of Jewish culture in the European continent.

It was only during the Nationalist-Socialist rule in Austria when the Jewish population was almost entirely deported and killed notably in the Holocaust. In March 1938, Jews in Vienna were constantly harassed, driven out of their homes and shops through to the streets.

Except for the Stadttempel, all synagogues and prayer houses in the city were destroyed. Shops were plundered and closed down and more than 6,000 Jews were arrested in just a single night.

Exploring Jewish Vienna

Shabbat times Vienna
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If there’s one city in Europe that has a rich Jewish history, it has to be Vienna in Austria. The capital city used to have a large community of Jewish people until the second World War. At that time, Vienna was home to many synagogues and prayer houses.

After Austria was occupied by the German Wehrmacht in March 1938, the Jews suffered much racism and terrorism from the Nazis. They were robbed of the things they owned through what the Nazi regime called aryanization. This harsh situation eventually led some 140,000 Austrians to leave the country while those who were left behind got killed. 

But despite what Vienna went through in the hands of the Nazis, the Austrian capital city exerted efforts to make known to people its Jewish connection. Today, visitors in Vienna can still explore what remains of the Jewish community.

Shabbat times Vienna

Shabbat Torah readingCandle-Lighting Times
Acharei-Kedoshim1 May 2020 (7:51 PM)
Emor8 May 2020 (8 PM)
Behar-Bechukotai15 May 2020 (8:10 PM)
Bamidbar22 May 2020 (8:18 PM)

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions about Jewish Museum Vienna

Where is the Jewish quarter in Vienna?

The Leopoldstadt in the second district is well known for its Jewish settlers and institutions.

How big is the Jewish community in Vienna?

At the end of the 1990s, there were barely more than 7000 registered members of Vienna’s Jewish community. [Source]

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