The Great Synagogue of Tunis is the main synagogue in the Tunisian capital. It is located at number 36,Avenue de la Liberté in the centre of Tunis, in the Lafayette district, not far from the 'Republique' Metro sation ′′ and the Habib-Thameur garden.
The initiative for its construction came from Baron Giacomo Di Castcelnuovo. The building was intended to replace the synagogue in the Jewish district of the Hara. Castelnuovo was a doctor, explorer and diplomat from the Grana community. He wanted a common place of worship uniting the Grana and Twensa, the two branches of Tunisian Jewry.
In the 1870 s, he reclaimed a plot that had been offered to Sadok Bey in 1832. However, the current site was donated by Daniel Iffla Osiris, who wanted his architect to build on land provided by the community, in order to comply with all usual permits and regulations.
Upon his death in 1907, Osiris bequeathed his fortune to the Pasteur Institute. They were forced by his will to acquire land unsuitable for building in Garibaldi square. This was re-sold and replaced with the site at number 100 of Avenue de Paris, currently avenue de la Liberté.
A first Romano-Byzantine project for the dome was presented on March 31, 1909, but the high cost and lack of enthusiasm scuppered the project; it was soon replaced by a new version after an architectural competition in 1911.
The jury unanimously retained the services of a young architect, Victor Valensi, combining oriental shapes and structures and materials like concrete. The dome was begun in June 1933; it was inaugurated on December 23, 1937.
During the occupation of Tunisia by the Axis forces, from November 1942 to March 1943, the building was occupied by the German soldiers who came to arrest community leaders. In 1967, in the context of the Six-Day War, the synagogue was ransacked by rioters. Restored in 1996 and then in 2007, after intervention by President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, it is guarded by the municipal police and sometimes is open to visitors though services are rare.