©2021 Heiner Sträßer
Big Synagogue in Edirne
After several years of restauration, the 3rd biggest synagogue in Europe was reopened with a festive ceremony. In 1906 it was built under Sultan Abdülhamid II., after a big fire in 1905 which had burnt down all 13 synagogues. At that time the Jewish community had about 28000 members. In the Ottoman empire they could look back at a long history. Queen Isabella of Castile completed the recapture of the muslim Spain with the conquest of Granada in 1492. Afterwards all Jews had either to convert to Christianity or leave the Spanish kingdom. The Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II. welcomed them with open arms. Legend has it, that he sent a letter to Isabella his worst enemy thanking her for sending the best craftsmen, scientists and artists of the country to him. With the new Turkish republic and the growing nationalism the situation for the Jews in Edirne changed dramatically. In 1934 thousands left the city and moved to Istanbul. The decreasing Jewish community in Edirne used the synagogue until 1983.