The Grand Choral Synagogue of St. Petersburg sometimes called the St. Petersburg Synagogue. It is the second largest synagogue in Europe. It was built between 1880 and 1888, consecrated in 1893.Poet Osip Mandelstam called the Petersburg Synagogue a "lavish, outstandish seductress".
It is often called choral Synagogue because during the "shabad" services they have choir singing from St. Petersburg Choir & the head of the Choir works for the Mariinsky Opra house which is the most famous Opera Theatre in St. Petersburg. The Jewish community of StP must have been founded in 1802. It was that year that a plot of land at the Lutheran cemetery for bearing Jews was purchased by the Jewish community.
In 1868 the Jewish community wrote an appeal to the tsar asking the permission to build a Choral Synagogue and in 1869 the permission was received. The board of the community was formed in April 1870 and two years later Evzil Gintsburg a famous businessman was elected the chairman. The Gintsburg family the most celebrated family of that time headed the community for a long period of time because after Evzil Gintsburg first his son Goratsy Gintsburg and then his grandson David Gintsburg headed the Jewish community of St. Petersburg.
The architectural style of the synagogue is so called Moresque style or so called Moory style of Alambra in Spain. This style at that time was conceded the most propriet for a Jewish temple. Because it was believed this particular style was closer to Jewish national esthetic. The synagogues in Frankfurt, Berlin, Hanover in Germany were also designed in the same style. It was proposed by the Russian architect Vasily Stasov and the architect of the synagogue was Shaposhnikov. The Big Choral Synagogue was built between 1891 & 1893. The construction of the synagogue was completed in 1893. The main hall can seat 1200 people.
The Big Choral Synagogue has a prayer hall for men. It can sit 850 people and women had to stay on the gallery upstairs on the balcony. There is a standing room there for 500 people. There is also smaller synagogue which is meant for daily services. The smaller synagogue is located next door to the Big Choral Synagogue. It is meant for 100 people.
The construction of the synagogue cost 50000 gold rubles. Most of the sum was donated by baron Goratsy Gintsburg who was one of the members of the Gintsburg family. The rest was taken from the money donated by the different members of the Jewish community. In 1990s big restoration work started at the Big Choral Synagogue . Initially the restoration was sponsored by Admon Safra.
The synagogue's complex also consists of Lechaim, a kosher restaurant, and a gift shop called Kosher, where you can even buy rabbi matryoshkas.