Dolni Kounice Synagogue

Dolni Kounice, Czech Republic

Background

Dolní Kounice Synagogue, located in the former Jewish quarter and near the historic center of Dolní Kounice, was built between 1652 and 56. Construction of the synagogue was initiated when an earlier Synagogue was destroyed by Swedish troops in 1645 during the Thirty Years' War. The baroque building has a rectangular plan and a clipped side gable roof. Decorative stonework illustrative of the baroque style is found above the main entry. Baroque features continue on the interior in the murals and ornamental floral motifs with Hebrew inscriptions. In 1851, a women’s gallery, an area with separate seating for women during services, was added to the building. Further alterations to the structure were made in 1930. In 1940 Nazi Germany gained control of the town and, after 280 years of service, the synagogue was closed. Following World War II the synagogue was used as a vegetable warehouse. In 1991, the building was returned to the Jewish community.

How We Helped

In early 2000 WMF and its local partner conducted an assessment of the synagogue and a restoration plan was subsequently developed that was carried out in two stages. The first stage focused on cleaning the entire building, stabilization and remediation of plaster, the restoration of painted areas, and preparation work on the stucco mirror and pillars. The second stage focused on reconstruction and final work on ornamental features, pillars, and the mirror. Conservation work was also undertaken on the Hebrew scripts that line the entrance hall. The basin, memorial plaques, portal, pillars in the main hall, and portions of the women’s gallery were all successfully restored.

Why It Matters

The Dolní Kounice Synagogue is a distinctive architectural, historic, and cultural feature of the cityscape in Dolní Kounice. With its mid-17th-century baroque core and later 19th- and early-20th-century additions, as well as its surviving mural inscriptions, Dolní Kounice is one of the most important Moravian synagogues still standing.

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