The old synagogue at Avignon was destroyed by fire in 1845. It was replaced the following year by a new building designed by the architect Joseph-Auguste Joffroy. Its neo-classical rotunda set in a square building represents a deliberate break with tradition. The exuberant colours of the preceding century are now replaced by the rigour of white colonnades and sober furnishings in walnut. The specificities of the synagogue architecture of the Comtat - the double prayer rooms, the Rabbi’s tribune and the chair for the prophet Elijah - have disappeared, with the dispersion of the old Jewish communities and the immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe.
The synagogue of Avignon was first built in 1221. A 13th century oven used to bake unleavened bread for Passover can still be seen, but the rest of the present round, domed, neoclassical structure dates from 1846.
The Jewish Quarter was originally northwest of the Place du Palais. In 1221, the Jewish community was transferred to an enclosed quarter in the parish of Saint-Pierre, around the Place Jerusalem. The Jewish ghetto was closed off by three doors (the only one of which remaining is the portal of the Calandre) and the inhabitants were under the protection of the pope.
The Synagogue was built just after the move in 1221. The French Revolution ended the ghetto regulations and most of the houses were torn down in the 19th century.
The synagogue was rebuilt between 1765 and 1767 by architect Franque and sumptuously decorated. This building totally burned down in 1845, but was immediately reconstructed by the care and efforts of the municipality to the plans of the architect J.A. Jeoffroy.
What to See
The synagogue is neo-classical in style, consisting of a simple rotunda covered with a cupola.
Visitors to the synagogue should be modestly dressed and men must cover their heads.
Opening days Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Opening hours 10am-5pm