Plans are moving forward for the restoration of the monumental twin-towered Great Synagogue and nearby rabbi’s house in Plzeň (Pilsen) in the Czech Republic. According to local media, tenders are going out now, and work should begin within the next few months. The Jewish community web site notes that once work begins, the synagogue will be closed to visitors for two years.
The reconstruction will be largely financed by an EU grant of around €3.4 million (87 277 780 Czech crowns).
As we wrote last year, it will mainly involve the interior of the Synagogue, where much of the painted decoration, and the organ, are in disrepair, despite partial restoration of the building in the 1990s. At that time, Jan Kindermann, who formulated the project, said “restoration will repair all the elements – plastering, painting, stone, stucco, metal.” It will employ a 3D digitalization of the interior and the creation of a permanent exhibition on Judaism.
Work on the 19th century rabbinical house, currently in very poor condition, will entail a total renovation of the building.
Jiří Löwy, the chairman of the Pilsen Jewish Community, told local media that the renovation will include creating a visitors’ center and also a small museum there focused on the mikveh in the building’s basement.
The general project also foresees building a garden between the Great Synagogue and rabbinical house.
The Great Synagogue (located at Sady Petatricatniku 11) was built in Moorish-Romantic style in 1888-92 and, one of the largest synagogues in Europe, is a city landmark and used as cultural venue.
It is one of three synagogues in Plzen. The Old Synagogue, built in 1859 and currently used by the tiny Jewish community, was restored as part of the nationwide 10 Stars network and reopened in 2014, housing an exhibit on Jewish customs and traditions. Next to it, the Auxiliary synagogue, built in 1875, serves as a Holocaust memorial.
We post below a few of her pictures of the Great Synagogue as it is today.