Virtual 3D synagogues in the German Digital Library: Germany's contribution to the European cultural data space


The results of the European ‘Twin it!’ campaign were presented during the Belgian EU Council Presidency in Brussels. Initiated by the culture ministries of the EU member states, ‘digital twins’ of important national cultural assets were to be created in collaboration with European cultural heritage institutions - in 3D. 

The aim? To better record Europe's cultural heritage and make it more tangible through high-resolution 3D models. Currently, only 0.01 per cent of the more than 57 million cultural assets that can be accessed on the Europeana portal are available in 3D.

The German contribution to the ‘Twin it!’ campaign was presented by Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth. The Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media had selected two synagogues that were destroyed by the National Socialists in the November pogrom of 1938: the Great Synagogue in Erfurt and the old synagogue on Michelsberg in Wiesbaden. Both synagogues were virtually reconstructed in 2021 and can now be experienced in the German Digital Library. 

The selection was based on the historical significance of the two buildings: until their destruction by the National Socialists, they represented the new self-confidence of the Jewish community in Germany. The synagogues were built in Moorish style in the second half of the 19th century and symbolised the liberation from centuries of discrimination.

The contributions from other member states are also exciting: As digital twins, interested parties can, for example, view Italy's famous sculpture Hercules Farnese, visit the Tartu Observatory in Finland or explore Momjan Castle in Croatia.

Europeana has made all the objects from the campaign available in a gallery.