Small Synagogue, currently archives, Rzeszów
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Small Synagogue, currently archives

Rzeszów

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It is one of the oldest preserved synagogues in the whole Podkarpackie Voivodeship. It was also called “Old School” or “Old Town Synagogue”. The Synagogue was built in the Renaissance style. It is of historical importance as material evidence of the oldest complex of buildings in the city and an essential part of its spatial layout.

History

The Synagogue was built in the early 17th century (around 1610) probably on the site formerly occupied by a wooden synagogue used by Jews settled in the first half of the 16th century. During the construction of town fortifications by Mikołaj Spytek Ligęza, the Old Town Synagogue was included in the area of a corner bastion and also served as a point of assembly of crews obliged to defend the town and store weapons and ammunition. Shortly after its construction, the synagogue building was damaged during the invasion of George II Rákóczi, Prince of Transylvania, whose troops combined with the Cossacks plundered and then burned down the town. It was again damaged during the Tatar invasion in 1672 and the town fire in 1698. After the fire, the roof cladding of the synagogue was replaced with new beaver tail tiles. According to the plan of 1762, developed by Karol Henryk Wiedemann, showing the body of the synagogue building from that time, the building was erected on a nearly square floor plan, covered with a conical hip roof, with lower annexes topped with mono-pitched roofs with a fortified tower in the south-western corner, whose purpose was to provide access between rooms (staircase leading to the attic and to a dungeon and prison). After 1842, the roof cladding was changed from roof tiles to sheet metal cladding; the roof pitch was lowered and the roof was converted into a gable roof with a roof ridge on the east-west axis. Between 1905 and 1906, the synagogue was extended (upwards by adding a narthex to the west) according to a design by Zygmunt Hendel. During the occupation, after the Jews were displaced in the summer of 1942, the synagogue was used as a storage of stolen furniture. The synagogue was devastated, as a result of which in 1945 vaults collapsed and in subsequent years the roof structure. Due to the fact that the structure was gradually falling into ruin and the Jewish Congregation showed no interest in the synagogue, in 1954 it was decided that the synagogue would be taken over by the National Archives after renovation and adaptation. The renovation was completed in 1959. In 1999, the synagogue again became the property of the Jewish Community in Cracow in use by the National Archives.

Description

The synagogue is located in the eastern part of the Old Town and adjoins Bożnicza Street to the west.

The building represents the type of the five-field Polis synagogue.

The building was erected on a nearly square floor plan, buttressed in the corners and in the middle of the walls, with a tower in the north-western corner, embedded in a buttress extending beyond the outline of the building. A narrow rectangular annex adjoins the building to the south.

The building consist of one storey and a basement underneath some of its sections. The main body of the synagogue is covered with a tall steep Dutch gable roof clad with sheet metal. The rectangular annex to the south is topped with three separate three-slope roofs. On the upper storey, the annex is connected to the Archives building in Mickiewicza Street by a connecting section. The cylindrical tower is covered with a conical roof.

The structure is built of split stone and brick. Peripheral walls are about 160 cm thick. The roofs are clad with copper sheet. The turret roof is covered with wood shingles.

The southern and western façades are plastered. The other two façades are finished with stone, with a small amount of bricks unevenly distributed in the wall. The turret is plastered, with buttresses below made of brick. The façades are topped with a pronounced crowning cornice. The southern façade is pierced by an entrance door decorated with ornamental surrounds. The annex is surrounded by an offset in the form of a pronounced half-cylinder. The roofs of the rectangular annex are topped with two longitudinal dormers, each with three small windows. The eastern façade is pierced by two rectangular windows surmounted by full arches. Above there is a gable with a pediment covered with boards in a herringbone pattern. A small dormer is located in the middle of the pediment. Similarly as the eastern façade, the western façade was additionally fitted with a cylindrical tower in the north-western corner. The north façade is pierced by rectangular windows with semicircular arches.

The interior was completely altered and is devoid of the original layout and décor.

No visitor access to the monument (National Archives).

compiled by Mieczysław Kuś, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Rzeszów, 10-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet, Synagoga Staromiejska tzw. „Mała”, ul. Bożnicza, prepared by Łyżka R., Rzeszów 2008, Archives of the Regional Office for the Protection of Historical Monuments, Rzeszów Regional Office.
  • Encyklopedia Rzeszowa, 2nd Edition: Synagoga Staromiejska (Mała, Stara Szkoła), p. 790, prepared by Henning W.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce. Powiat Rzeszów - miasto Rzeszów, prepared by Dunin-Fishinger B., Fishinger A., pp. 17-18, typescript available at the Archives of the National Heritage Board of Poland, Regional Office in Rzeszów.

General information

  • Type: synagogue
  • Chronology: ok. 1610 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Bożnicza 4, Rzeszów
  • Location: Voivodeship podkarpackie, district Rzeszów, commune Rzeszów
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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