Kutaisi Synagogue

Nestled in the heart of Kutaisi, the multicultural heart of Georgia, you'll find a true historical gem - the Kutaisi Synagogue. It's a captivating monument, teeming with stories of the city's Jewish community that settled here as far back as 1644. But it's not just a tribute to the past, this active synagogue continues to pulse with life, reflecting Kutaisi's vibrant diversity.

The synagogue, located at 57-59 Gaponov Street, was constructed in 1886. Boasting a capacity of 350 people, this Neo-Romanesque beauty strikes an imposing figure. The façade, divided by three elegant arches, hints at the magnificence inside. Here, visitors are met with walls adorned in colourful paintings, the synagogue's interior echoing the artistry of its stone exterior.

Ambling down Gaponov Street, you'll notice the city's Jewish quarter nestled between the Mtsvanekvavila district and the synagogue itself. This district is home to not one, not two, but three synagogues, all dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. The oldest of these dates back to 1852. However, the "Big Temple," as the Kutaisi Synagogue is fondly known, is arguably the most spectacular. It proudly stands as the second-largest synagogue in all of Georgia.

Next door, a smaller synagogue built in 1912 keeps the "Big Temple" company. Here, the local Jewish community nurtures its roots, learning Hebrew, conducting religious rituals, and baking matzah in traditional ovens.

The Kutaisi Synagogue, also known as the "Upper Prayer" or "Mtsvanekvavila Prayer," charms visitors with its ornate façades. Particularly eye-catching is the one facing Gaponov Street, divided into a stunning triple arcade. Inside, a complete set of vibrant paintings adorns the interior, offering a feast for the eyes.

Adding a contemporary touch, a monument honoring Boris Gaponov, the scholar who translated the "Knight in the Panther’s Skin" into Hebrew, was installed at the synagogue's entrance in 2014.

All in all, the Kutaisi Synagogue offers an enriching journey through Georgia's Jewish heritage. Its blend of historic charm, cultural significance, and ongoing communal activities offers a unique insight into Kutaisi's enduringly diverse spirit. So, whether you're a history buff, an architecture aficionado, or just a curious traveler, the Kutaisi Synagogue promises a fascinating exploration of Georgia's past and present.

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