Synagogue, Chęciny
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The synagogue is an excellently preserved example of late-Renaissance architecture of Chęciny, then one of the most important construction and artistic centres in the Republic of Poland. The scale of the project, lavishness of architectural detail inside and outside indicate an important role of the house of prayer in the local Jewish community.

History

First mentions about the existence of a Jewish community in Chęciny date back to the mid-16th century. The existence of a house of prayer before 1597 in this location is confirmed by a decree of King Sigismund III Vasa, forbidding to run a house of prayer in the town. In 1638, king Władysław IV Vasa permitted Jews to build a brick and stone house of prayer in the town. The building was erected on a square purchased from a townsman from Chęciny, Marcin Furgat. The privilege precisely defined its size and general layout, which corresponds to the layout and size of the building existing today. It was constructed by the Jewish construction guild mentioned in the preserved town files originating from the first half of the 17th century. After the fire in 1905, the building underwent thorough renovation, and in 1906, one suite of rooms was added on its north side. During the World War II, the synagogue was closed by the Germans, and the buildings was heavily damaged. After the war, it was taken over by municipal authorities, and it was reconstructed and converted in years 1957-1958 (among others, the roof was replaced and the stonework was renovated). In that time, it housed a municipal library, a communal and municipal cultural centre, "Marmury" cinema, and headquarters of commune authorities. Currently, the structure is owned by the Jewish community with the head office in Katowice; it is not used. According to some, a rabbi house was located next to the synagogue, and somewhat away, a mikvah, and to the north — a school, which are, however, poorly discernible in the converted buildings.

Description

The building is located in the eastern part of the city, on a platform lower in relation to the street surface, and is slightly receded from the frontage. In front of it, there is a metal, modern fence with a brick gate and pillars. The building is sturdy, perpendicular, and two-storey in general, covered with a two-hipped roof (of Polish type). The older part of the building is flanked in the corners by bulky buttresses with vertical faces.  The interior layout is delimited by a main room which is rectangular in projection and vaulted, and located in the front part below the ground level, preceded from the south by a hallway, with a room separated in the south-eastern corner and a women's section on the first floor, accessible by external staircase. The main entrance in the southern wall of the building is embraced by a late-Renaissance portal. Also the entrance to the room from the hallway features a stone portal from the 2nd quarter of the 17th century. Inside, in the room on the eastern wall, there is a late-Renaissance stone Torah ark of black marble, inlaid with Chęciński marble, once painted, with a cartouche with a crown in the top. Part of the fittings of the rooms (wood panelling, floors) survived from the period of the preceding public (community) use. Façades of the oldest part of the building are separated with corner buttresses, with freely arranged windows of various sizes in plain, late-Renaissance stone surrounds. Walls are plastered, with a couple of layers of paints; the roof is covered with wood shingles. The structure is still in moderately good shape, but decay of the shingles is starting to be visible, as well as depletion and dampness of plasterwork; it requires an urgent, general renovation.

Access to the historical building is limited; property of the Jewish commune in Katowice.

Compiled by Dariusz Kalina, 21.12.2014.

Bibliography

  • Karta ewidencyjna zabytków architektury i budownictwa, Dawna synagoga, compiled by S. Parfianowicz, Kielce 1983. archiwum Wojewódzkiego Urzędu Ochrony Zabytków w Kielcach i Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa w Warszawie.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. III: Województwo kieleckie, fasc. 4: Powiat kielecki, Warszawa 1959.
  • Barbasiewicz M, Kubiak J., Chęciny Studium historyczno-urbanistyczne, Warszawa 1981, archiwum WKZ w Kielcach.
  • Baranowski J., Synagoga w Chęcinach, „Ochrona Zabytków”, R. 1959, fasc. 3/4.
  • Bergman E, Jagielski J., Zachowane synagogi i domy modlitwy w Polsce - katalog, Warszawa 1996.
  • Miłobędzki A., Architektura XVII wieku w Polsce, Warszawa 1980.
  • Kalina D., Dzieje Chęcin, Chęciny 2007.
  • Mirowski R., Chęciński album, Kielce 2001.
  • Penkalla A., Żydowskie ślady w województwie kieleckim i radomskim, Radom 1992.

General information

  • Type: synagogue
  • Chronology: 1638 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Długa 7, Chęciny
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district kielecki, commune Chęciny - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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