The renovation of the historic fortresslike synagogue in Szydlów, Poland has been completed after a year and a half of restoration work, and the 16th-century building, one of the oldest preserved synagogues in Poland, has been reopened as the town’s culture center.
The municipality made the announcement Nov. 20 on Facebook.
As we wrote before the restoration work began, the project was carried out 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.
It was largely implemented with nearly 8 million zloty from the European Union under the Regional Operational Program for Świętokrzyskie province for 2014-2020.
Originally constructed in Gothic style in 1534–1564 and rebuilt in the 18th century, the synagogue was devastated by the Nazis and later used as a warehouse and cinema. It was rebuilt in the 1980s for use as a cultural center.
Today, the newly restored synagogue, with its battlements and tall vertical buttresses, is now painted gleaming white on the exterior, and inside it has a new floor, with newly installed underfloor heating. The early 17th-century Aron ha Kodesh has been restored, and traces of some wall paintings have been revealed.
Renovation work began in the spring of 2018. The building required not only reconstruction and renovation, but also retro-fitting. The external timber structure was renovated, the roof was replaced and the stone floors, sanitary facilities and women’s gallery were also renovated. The area around the synagogue has been adapted for visitors. Behind the building, there was a huge playground and the rest of the area contains a vast amount of greenery, including new park. The synagogue interior contained a room adapted for the holding of events. One of the initial ideas was to use the refreshed space as an area for an outdoor exhibition telling visitors the stories of prominent Polish Jews.