The stalled restoration of the Moorish-style synagogue in Čáslav, Czech Republic, may soon be completed.
Mayor Vlastislav Malek, who took office in November, indicated this at New Year’s when he outlined his new administration’s plans for the coming year, according to local media. No specific details were reported, however.
The building, which is owned by the Prague Jewish community, is planned for use as a culture center for the town. Malek was quoted as saying that discussions would be held in the first half of 2019 about how to proceed.
The Synagogue, with a distinctive tall, horseshoe arch over the central portal and painted coffered ceiling, was built in 1899 and designed by the noted Viennese architect Wilhelm Stiassny, who designed several other synagogues in central Europe including the Jubilee synagogue in Prague.
It was used a warehouse during and after World War II, and later served as the town gallery. Restituted to Jewish ownership in the 1990s, it underwent restoration in recent years. The World Monuments Fund provided grants to the project in the early 2000s.
Among other things, the facade was fully restored; the roof, ceiling, and windows were repaired or replaced (including the central round window with the Star of David motif); the interior was cleaned and decorative painting restored, as you can see in this video, prepared for the Czech Day of Jewish Monuments in August 2016, when the synagogue was opened to visitors:
Restoration work was not fully completed, however, as the synagogue was one of six Jewish heritage sites (the synagogues in Pisek, Čáslav, Neveklov, Rychnov nad Kneznou, and Police u Jemnice, plus the rabbi’s house in Plzeň) for whose renovation the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic had hoped to get an EU grant, as a follow up to the EU-funded 10 Stars renovation of Jewish heritage sites in 10 towns around the country.
The grant request failed, however, because of bureaucratic delays associated with the construction tender.