History of the synagogue in Ostend
The Synagogue located at the Filip van Maastrichtplein No. 3 in Ostend was built in 1910 – 1911 in the neo-Romanesque style according to the plans of the Dutch Jewish architect Joseph De Langhe (born in Amsterdam in 1883 – died in Antwerp in 1948).
- 1873: in order to accommodate the large influx of Jewish tourists during the summer period, the Belgian State in 1873 gave a piece of land at the Euphrosina Beernaertstraat in order to build a Synagogue there. This project has never been realized.
- 1904: The Israelite Community of Ostend is recognized.
- 1906: the city puts a new piece of land at disposal, located at the Sportstraat. The project, according to the plans of architect De Langhe is again suspended.
- 1910 – 1911: The Jewish Community decides to buy a building plot itself, located at the Filip van Maastrichtplein, on which is built a simplified project of the architect J. De Langhe, by the contractor Ed. Brys.
The consecration takes place on August 29, 1911.
- 1940 – 1945: desecration and looting of the Synagogue during the last war.
Architectural and historical value
As one of the seven full-fledged Synagogues of Belgium, built during the years 1861 to 1914 (a unique heritage for the country), the Ostend Synagogue has an undeniable historical architectural value. She witnesses an important social process, namely the emancipation of the Jewish Community, which culminates during this period 1861-1914. Especially in Ostend (under the reign of Leopold II), a fashionable seaside resort, with international style and in full development. It becomes a place of residence for a powerful bourgeoisie who prides itself on the Royal presence.
At the end of a long search for a suitable model of architecture (to give a monumental presence to the Jewish identity), the Synagogue of Ostend was built for the visitors of the summer months and inaugurated in 1911.
The plan of the Synagogue is a simple typological model adapted to the limited space and irregular dimensions and shapes of the land which, however, has been fully utilized. The neo-Romanesque style for the design is inspired by the architecture of the synagogues of that period. The facade is an exact replica, in reduced form, of the middle part of the Orthodox Synagogue in Frankfurt (built according to the plans of the architects P. Jürgens and J. Bachmann 1904-1907).
The Synagogue was designed by the versatile Dutch Jewish architect Joseph De Langhe (Amsterdam 1883-Antwerp 1948), who was then at the beginning of a successful career at the service of the Jewish Community of Ostend.
As a witness to an aspiration towards tolerance, equality and the recognition of a minority in society, the Synagogue is a landmark that found its architectural consecration in the urban landscape at the beginning of the 20th century. .
The Synagogue was recognized as a “protected monument” by the Flemish Community by a decree of 19/02/2002.