The grand, domed synagogue in Lučenec, Slovakia long stood a dramatically derelict ruin…. but, as we have reported, the building, which is owned by the city, has now been restored, transformed into a cultural center, whose premises also include a Holocaust memorial.
The restoration process took a remarkably short period of time. Active work on the restoration, financed by a €2.3 million EU grant, only kicked off last summer, after years of hopes and fitful, aborted plans.
You can now watch a rather astonishing, time-lapse video of the work, from start to finish.
Completed in 1926, the immense domed structure is the only surviving synagogue out of five that once stood in the town, which is in southern Slovakia near the border with Hungary.
It was designed by the prolific Hungarian synagogue architect Lipot Baumhorn and is a typical example of Baumhorn’s grand, eclectic style. Among his more than 20 other synagogues are the great synagogue in Szeged, Hungary, and the synagogues in Esztergom and Szolnok, Hungary.
The communist authorities nationalized the Lučenec synagogue in 1948 and for more than 30 years it was used as a warehouse for artificial fertilizers. It stood empty and dilapidated after being abandoned in 1980. It received a new roof in the 1990s, but otherwise plans for restoration never until now got off the ground for lack of funding.
During the first weeks of renovation work, archeologists working at the site uncovered a “time capsule” that was buried there in 1863, dating from the dedication of a previous synagogue that stood in the same place.