After more than a year of work, renovation is complete on the 17th century synagogue in Tykocin, Poland — and the process has given the massive building a colorful new look. The facade is no longer white, but deep pink and light turquoise.
A massive masonry building with a high mansard roof, the synagogue, desecrated during World War II, was rebuilt and restored in the 1970s and opened on Nov. 1, 1976 as a branch of the Podlaskie District Museum in Bialystok. It was one of the few Jewish museums to open or operate in Communist-ruled east-central Europe. It marked its 40th anniversary in 2016 with a revamped permanent exhibition and other renovations of the building’s interior.
Conservators say that the exterior renovation brought back the original colors of the building, which was constructed in 1642.
Polish Radio Białystok quotes the director of the Synagogue museum, Dr. Janusz Sękowski:
– Thanks to the work of archaeologists and conservators, we learned what the original color of the Synagogue was. Hence the decision. When the building was built in the 17th century, it was painted in such colors, so we do not change anything, only we return to the roots.
He said other work in the nearly 2.5 million zloty (approx €600,000) renovation included replacing the roof, updating the central heating, refurbishing several rooms for exhibitions, and renovation of the Talmudic House next door.
(The guide and heritage activist Waclaw Wojciechowski visited Tykocin this past week and has allowed us to use his pictures — Thanks! He says: “An important work has been done: new roof, new colors on the walls outside — the closest to the original colors, it looks great. It is wonderful inside as well.”)
The synagogue is a major attraction in the little town, visited by at least 80,000 people a year. In 2013, it was voted one of the “new seven wonders” of Poland, in the third edition of a readers’ contest sponsored by the Polish edition of National Geographic Traveller magazine.
Here’s how the synagogue looked before the renovation: