Agoudas Hakehilos Synagogue

Only 5 meters wide by 23 meters from front to back, Art Nouveau genius Hector Guimard used the motif of the Ten Commandments to inspire this building's book-like shape and interior.

TravelCurious Tip

If you’re looking for a place to picnic after your visit, head to the nearby Place des Vosges, one of Paris’ prettiest parks.

The charming district of Le Marais has long been one of Paris’ main Jewish communities, and the Agoudas Hakehilos synagogue has been its foremost place of Jewish worship for over a century. At the turn of the 20th century, there was a significant influx of Eastern European immigrants to Paris, who brought with them their Orthodox Jewish faith. Many of them had also amassed considerable wealth from business interests in their countries of origin, and in 1913 the Union of the Communities (Agoudas Hakehilos) commissioned a new synagogue.

Religious Art Nouveau

In an unusual move, Hector Guimard was chosen as the architect for the project. By this time he was already widely renowned in the field, but he belonged very much to the Art Nouveau style, and had never before designed a religious building. Nevertheless, the result is a Parisian classic which uses the Ten Commandments as one of its central motifs. As with all synagogues, the Agoudas Hakehilos was built to be a house of learning and assembly, as well as prayer, and there is a library and a series of study rooms situated at the front of the building.

The interior is awash with intricate furnishings and fittings. Numerous plantlike motifs adorn the central guard rails, as well as the walls and ceiling, all of which are gently lit by a variety of lamps and candelabra of Guimard’s own design.

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