Bialystoker Synagogue in Manhattan, one of the sacred sites available to tour

Nearly 100 ecclesiastical sites across New York State will open their doors this weekend so that visitors can admire the awe-inspiring architecture inside. On May 20th and May 21st, synagogues, churches, temples, and mosques throughout the boroughs of NYC and beyond will take part in the Sacred Sites Open House festival hosted by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. This annual event celebrates the social and cultural importance of New York State’s amazing religious buildings. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Conservancy, so the theme of the event is Congregations and Communities: 50 Years of Sacred Sites. Here, we share 10 of the most stunning sacred sites you can tour in New York City this weekend!

1. Manhattan – Museum at Eldridge Street

Museum at Eldridge Street
Photo Courtesy of the New York Landmarks Conservancy

The Museum at Eldridge Street is housed inside the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Opened in 1887, the Eldridge Street Synagogue was one of the first to be erected in the United States by Eastern European Jews. In the early to mid-20th century, as Jewish residents began to disperse to the suburbs and immigration into New York slowed, the congregation dwindled. The synagogue closed its main sanctuary.

For years, the space remained shut off and abandoned. Finally, in 1987, local residents and urban preservationists joined forces to save the architectural marvel. It took 20 years to bring the neglected synagogue back to its former glory. After two decades of work, the main sanctuary re-opened in 2007. Today, you can appreciate the painstaking restoration work that went into the synagogue’s rehabilitation, including the installation of an iconic stained glass window filled with stars, crafted by Artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans. For the Sacred Sites Open House weekend, photographer Michael L. Horowitz and author Elizabeth Anne Hartman, the creators behind Divine New York, will lead a Lower East Side walking tour convening outside the Museum at 10:30am. You can register here!