The fortress-like synagogue in the small town of Szydłów, in southern Poland, will undergo extensive restoration as part of a nearly 10 million zloty (€2.3 million) development project for the town, which is sometimes called the “Polish Carcassonne” because of its medieval defensive fortifications and other historic buildings.
The synagogue dates from the 16th century and is one of the oldest in Poland.
The development plan is aimed at bringing more tourists to Szydłów, which has a population of 1,100, and according to the officials it will be largely implemented with nearly 8 million zloty from the European Union under the Regional Operational Program for Świętokrzyskie province for 2014-2020.
Under the project, the local government plans to undertake the reconstruction, renovation and maintenance of five historic buildings and the area around them. In addition to the synagogue, these include the so-called “Knights’ Room”, the so-called “Treasury” and the gate to the former castle, as well as the ruins of the Holy Spirit church and hospital.
“We want to renovate the synagogue’s roof and walls and buy equipment needed to run cultural activities,” Bożena Stępień of the Szydłów Community Office told Virtual Shtetl. “The works will be preceded by archaeological research.”
Walls will be rebuilt and a recreation site will be created at the synagogue. Projects will be prepared next year and works should start in the spring of 2018 and end in July 2019, on the 690th anniversary of Szydłów’s incorporation.
The synagogue, which retains the frame of the Ark, is currently used as a cultural center and exhibition space, with a small exhibition of Judaica.
Old pictures show the pre-World War II state of the building:
According to the officials, the synagogue “requires major repair and reconstruction, as well as retrofitting” to enhance its use as a cultural space and for tourism. Local government also plans to develop the area adjacent to the synagogue and also install an open-air exhibition.