Glockengasse Synagogue Germany, Cologne

Glockengasse Synagogue

The Synagogue in Glockengasse was a synagogue in Cologne built to the plans of the architect of the Cologne Cathedral, Ernst Friedrich Zwirner. It was built on the site of the previous Monastery of St. Clarissa, where a modest hall of prayer had been erected in the years of the French occupation and had been closed in 1853 because it was unsafe.

On June 10, 1856, after much discussion in the Jewish communal executive board about whether it was better to build a synagogue in the same or a different spot, Abraham Oppenheim, son of Salomon Oppenheim, Jr., announced his readiness to erect a synagogue worthy of the Glockengasse at his own cost as a gift to the community. Drucker-Emden, a member of the Jewish communal administration, supported the decision.

The cornerstone was laid on June 23, 1857. On August 29, 1861, there was a procession from the provisional synagogue on St. Apernstrasse along Breitestrasse and Kolumbastrasse to the new synagogue. The synagogue was dedicated to Rabbi Israel Schwarz. A memorial tablet dedicated to the donor was placed inside and a medal of silver and bronze was struck.

In June 1867, fire damaged the building. In the same year Albert, the son of Simon Oppenheim, Abraham’s brother, and his wife sold a piece of land on the south side of the synagogue and a strip on the east to the Jewish community, making it possible to enlarge the synagogue, erect a smaller synagogue for week-day services, and leave room for a court.

The fiftieth anniversary of the synagogue was celebrated in 1911. During World War I, the large cupola, as well as the smaller ones, were stripped of their original copper covering. The cupolas had been regarded as among the most beautiful in Cologne because of the patinated copper. In consequence of the removal, the four towers on the outside pillars were dismantled and only restored in 1925, while the replacement of the copper covering was postponed for financial reasons.

The synagogue was destroyed during the Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938 together with the other synagogues in Cologne. The modernist Cologne Opera House now occupies the site. A bronze plaque on its façade on Offenbachplatz commemorates the synagogue.

The synagogue has been recreated in virtual form.