Synagogue, Orla
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Designed in a mixture of the Baroque and Classicist styles, this edifice remains one of the so-called nine-panel synagogues which were erected during the second half of the 17th century and in the 18th century.

History

The Jewish community in Orla came into being at the turn of the 17th century. All Jewish synagogues and houses were clustered around the market square. During the 18th century, the local Jewish population increased rapidly, while their economic and social influence continued to grow. The existing synagogue was most likely erected in the 1780s, at a time when the village of Orla remained in the hands of the Branicki noble family. A pair of side narthexes was added to the building at the turn of the 19th century. During World War I, the synagogue was converted into a field hospital; it was during that period that a wooden ceiling was added, dividing the main hall into two levels. After the war came to an end, the building continued to serve its original, religious function. The synagogue was heavily damaged during a fire in 1928, with the reconstruction works being completed in 1935. During World War II, the building was ransacked and vandalised by the Germans, who converted it into a storage facility. After the war, the narthexes were demolished, while the building itself continued to serve as a warehouse. During the 1980s, the synagogue was partially restored. The façades were repaired and the side narthexes - reconstructed.

Description

The synagogue is located in the centre of the village of Orla, on a fenced piece of land located east of the market square; it is accessible from Spółdzielcza street which widens to form a small square in front of the building. The Armii Czerwonej street runs east of the building, forming a boundary of the site on which it stands. The front façade of the synagogue faces west. The design of the synagogue is a mixture of the Baroque and Classicist styles.

The cuboid main body of the building was erected on a rectangular floor plan and covered with a gable roof. The side façades are adjoined by narrow annexes which formerly served as narthexes; these are covered with shed roofs, with the western entrances into the annexes being framed with Classicist pseudo-portals designed to give the impression that the side annexes are much taller than they already are; in fact, the portals are actually superimposed on tall curtain walls rising high above the low mono-pitched roofs of the annexes beyond. The tripartite front façade features a pseudo-avant-corps in the middle. A faux portico with a pair of Tuscan engaged columns supporting the entablature above is positioned on the middle axis of the façade; the entablature incorporates a triglyph frieze with rosettes inside the metopes. A triangular tympanum is positioned immediately above the frieze. The front façade is crowned with a volute-shaped gable, its top section capped with a semi-circular cornice. The windows are framed with decorative surrounds. The eastern façade, partitioned with pilasters, is pierced with a pair of windows and an oculus. The large and smaller windows in the side façades provide illumination for the main hall and the annexes respectively. The window openings are topped with round or segmental arches.

The building is made of brick, its walls covered with plaster. It was designed on a central plan, featuring a nine-panel double barrel vault supported by structural arches which rest upon four massive pillars positioned in the middle of the prayer hall. Painted decorations incorporating floral and animal motifs have survived on the upper sections of the walls. A rectangular niche formerly housing the Torah Ark can be seen in the eastern wall of the prayer hall. The two-storey western section of the main hall was used as a narthex back in the late 18th century.

The building can be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Joanna Kotyńska-Stetkiewicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 23-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet, Synagogue, compiled by J. Pyzia, 1983, archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Białystok.
  • Wiśniewski T., Bóżnice Białostocczyzny. Żydzi w Europie Wschodniej do roku 1939, Białystok 1992, pp. 182-184.
  • Orla. Synagoga, Dokumentacja historyczno-architektoniczna, compiled by J. Pyzia, Białystok 1983, typescript of the Polish Monument Conservation Workshops (PPKZ), archive of the Regional Office of the National Heritage Board of Poland.
  • Górska I., Kotyńska-Stetkiewicz J., Kułak A., Ryżewski G., Perły architektury województwa podlaskiego, Białystok-Bydgoszcz 2009, p. 11.

General information

  • Type: synagogue
  • Chronology: 2 poł. XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Spółdzielcza , Orla
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district bielski, commune Orla
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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