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Synagogues of Isfahan: The Architecture of Resignation and Integration

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the design of synagogues in the Jewish neighborhood of Isfahan, Jubareh, by examining the physical and non-physical links between the city and synagogues dating from the nineteenth century. An overview of the chronology of synagogues in the Jubareh district shows that six of them were built in the late Qajar period between 1880 and 1920, when Aqa Najafi Esfahani (1846-1914), a prominent Shiʿite religious leader, was ruling in Isfahan. As in other religious buildings in Isfahan, such as mosques and shrines, the focus of synagogues is on the interior. The organization of the interior space obeys the rationale of rituals and social interactions within the synagogue. The architecture of synagogues in Isfahan follows the dominant rules of Persian architecture while also symbolizing the dynamics of a religious community. These synagogues can be considered as Iranian edifices with regard to their spatial principles and construction methods.

Keywords: Aqa Najafi Esfahani; interior space; Iranian edifices; Isfahan; Jubareh; Persian architecture; synagogues



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