The recently completed restorations of the synagogues in Bardejov and Žilina have been awarded the CE-ZA-AR. prize for architecture in Slovakia, presented by the Slovak Chamber of Architects. Mazel tov!
The restoration of the modernist New Synagogue (Nová Synagóga) in Žilina — which was opened earlier this year as a contemporary culture center — received the Patron of Architecture award.
The restoration of the Old Synagogue in Bardejov, which anchors the compound of ritual buildings known as the Jewish Suburbium, received the prize in the category of Restoration.
The massive Bardejov Old Synagogue, 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.
A conference in April marked the completion of the renovation, 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.
Watch video about the restoration:
We have posted a number of times about the renovation of the New Synagogue (Nová Synagóga) in Žilina.
Designed by the German architect Peter Behrens and built in 1928-31, the synagogue was long used as a university lecture hall and a cinema after World War II and stood empty for years. It was returned to the ownership of the Jewish community, which rented it for a symbolic fee to the Truc Sphérique civic association, which has headed the conversion. The tiny Žilina Jewish community uses another synagogue in the town, the pre-war orthodox synagogue.
This mini-documentary tells the story of the renovation, as well as the history of the building. It was posted on YouTube in December 2016, but is still worth watching, for background to, and commentary on, the project.