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Iaşi, Romania

Hidden in the former Jewish quarter of Iaşi near the historic city center, the Great Synagogue of Iaşi is the oldest extant synagogue in Romania. The city was once home to more than 100 synagogues, but only two survive. The Great Synagogue of Iasi was built in the late seventeenth century, and has undergone various reconstructions and restorations over the centuries. The building was constructed from brick and stone masonry, and the interiors are decorated with frescoes. Over the course of its history, the synagogue has been the victim of a natural disaster, religious intolerance, and political abuse.

Originally surrounded by a manicured garden, today the synagogue is lost behind modern urban development and modest scaffolding—left in place after a consolidation project was halted in 2008. Exposure to the elements has resulted in structural deterioration and volatile times of religious and political persecution have resulted in physical devastation. The synagogue suffers from water infiltration, lack of maintenance, and a dwindling Jewish community. It is hoped that inclusion on the Watch will generate greater awareness about the plight of the building and the loss of cultural traditions and will promote the urban reintegration of the site.


Download a 2014 Watch poster of this site (see download instructions).

World Monuments Fund



Watch Day at the Great Synagogue of Iaşi was organized as a cultural event to celebrate Jewish religion and tradition. The activities included guided site visits of the site, concerts of traditional Jewish music, and arts and crafts for school children focused on the synagogue.

On Facebook:
2014 Watch Day Album
On Youtube:
2014 Watch Day at the Great Synagogue of Iaşi

Great Synagogue of Iaşi
A view of the Great Synagogue of Iaşi from the south, 2007
Great Synagogue of Iaşi
View of the Great Synagogue of Iaşi from the north, at the time when restoration was halted, 2009
Great Synagogue of Iaşi
The dome of the synagogue, stripped of its metal roof, remains unrestored, 2011
Great Synagogue of Iaşi
The Klezmer Nigun Band of Iaşi performs traditional Jewish music during Watch Day at the synagogue