About the Jewish Square in ViennaYou are located in the Jewish Square (Judenplatz). Back in the Middle Ages this square was a central place for the Jews of Vienna. Between the 13th and 15th centuries this was the heart of the Jewish ghetto. Its importance in the past, by the way, is also the reason why today it is a symbol of Jewish heritage, and will remain so for the future. It contains important milestones in the history of the Jews of Vienna: a synagogue, the Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorial.
The official synagogue of the Jewish community in Vienna is magnificent and impressive. Lectures and discussions on culture and Judaism are held in the synagogue. It was opened in 1826 on a side street and was unnoticeable. The reason was that Emperor Joseph II prohibited the construction of non-Catholic houses of worship in central places. This, incidentally, was the reason why the synagogue survived the Kristallnacht of 1938. It was simply far from the center of the riots.
At the Jewish Museum, which opened in 2011, you can discover and learn how the Jews lived in Austria over the years, to see various collections of ancient sacred instruments, to learn about the interesting Jewish characters of that period and to get a glimpse of modern Judaism as well.
In the museum you will also find archeological findings from the Great Synagogue of the Middle Ages, which was burned in 1421. During the excavations for the building of the monument, remains of the synagogue that was burned in 1421 were discovered. These findings have provided rare testimony to the lives of the Jews in the Middle Ages.
In the museum you can also see historical sacred artifacts, 3D exhibits of the life of the ancient Jewish community and more. Each floor of the museum will present to you a different layer of different periods in the Jewish history of Vienna.
The memorial was erected here in memory of the 65,000 Jews of Vienna who were murdered in the Holocaust. The monument was built in 2001 and is in the shape of a white cube, with shelves filled with books. The shelves are a symbol of the spirituality of the Jewish people, with the book. Beside the monument is a caption in memory of Austrian Holocaust victims. The building was designed by the British artist Rachel Weiterid.
In the center of the square, by the way, you can also see the sculpture "Nathan the Wise," a statue of the German playwright Ephraim Lessing. Lessing called his play "Nathan the Wise" for tolerance towards the Jews. The original statue was destroyed by the Nazis and was redesigned in 1982.