The years-long restoration of the Old Synagogue in Bardejov, Slovakia has been completed, bringing back to life the imposing synagogue that anchors the compound of ritual buildings known as the Jewish Suburbium, one of the few Jewish heritage sites on the UNESCO roster of world heritage.
Watch video about the restoration:
A conference and tour of the building on April 20 marked the conclusion of the project, which was supported by a 649,703 euro grant (mainly from the EEA/Norway Fund) and co-financed by the State Budget of the Slovak Republic. Though some repair work began in 2010 and 2011, the main project was carried out in 2015-2017.
The massive building, dating from the early 19th century and one of Slovakia’s two surviving nine-bay synagogues, was declared a cultural monument in 1970, but it stood derelict for decades, used as a storehouse for plumbing fixtures. UNESCO put the Jewish Suburbium — which includes the synagogue, the old mikvah and other buildings — and Bardejov’s town center on its roster of world heritage sites in 2000. It is owned by the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Slovakia.
According to the project web site:
The main hall of the building is to be the venue for exhibitions, concerts, conferences or lectures. The exhibition in the women’s gallery will draw closer to the history of the Jewish community in Bardejov. The courtyard of the synagogue offers further possibilities of use. The longterm priority is to connect all buildings on the compound, the open spaces and the Holocaust Memorial in one compact zone of World Cultural Heritage, which will serve the needs of Bardejov residents and contribute to the development of cultural tourism.
Work carried out included:
— stabilization of the socle parts of the inner plaster;
— fixing and retouching the paintings on the ceiling;
— restoration of the original doors including door frames, door handles and keys;
— complete electrification, installation of new wooden floors and restoration of old ones;
— creating an exhibition dedicated to the history of the Jewish community in Bardejov.
— construction of the external staircase replica and its sculpture decoration;
— repairing the gutters and the crowning cornice;
— restoration of the external façade and the original sundial;
— construction of the original ritual slaughterhouse, including the sanitary facility and sewer connection;
— surface treatment of the courtyard; building an enclosure and entrance gates to the Jewish Suburbium compound.
During the restoration work, new discoveries were made. These included a genizah, unique in Slovakia, and a sun dial with Hebrew letters on the facade of the building.