Zamość Renaissance Synagogue
Zamość synagogue was built in the early seventeenth century and retains much of its original fabric. The annexes to the main building for women were added in the 1630s. During the eighteenth century, the building underwent significant alterations: the façade of the building was changed, a second floor was added to the annexes for women, the attics were removed, and a new roof was raised. The building functioned as a synagogue until World War II. During the war it was looted and the southern annex for women was dismantled, while the northern suffered extensive damage. During the Nazi era, it was used as a carpentry workshop and in the 1950s it was used as a warehouse. Later the building was transformed into the municipal library. In the 1960s repairs did not fully protect the building from water infiltration though the roof. More recent efforts have focused on restoring the building’s appearance and the southern annex for women was rebuilt while the second floor of the northern annex was eliminated.
How We Helped
The building was recently restored to the Jewish Community of Warsaw, and the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland has taken on the restoration challenges to return the building to its pre-twentieth century appearance. After preparatory works were completed in the spring of 2009, renovations began in early July 2009. Throughout the summer and fall, the restoration team was successful in uncovering the foundations, dismantling the shearwall surrounding the synagogue below ground level, draining the foundation walls, installing new horizontal and vertical insulation, filling in the excavation and covering the foundations, and paving the surface of the ground with cobblestones. In the spring of 2010 old plaster was removed from the elevation, the original plaster was secured, the elevation was restored, a new layer of plaster was applied, and the exterior was painted. Restoration in the northern annex was completed in June 2010, and the rest of the project was finished in early 2011.
Why It Matters
The structure is on one of the few surviving Renaissance-era synagogues in Poland and is one of the most historic and architecturally significant synagogues in the country. One of the main objectives for the restoration of the synagogue was to transform the structure into a modern cultural institution that is part of an international tourist trail, the Chassidic Route, joining together an array of surviving Jewish cultural and religious monuments in Poland. The renovated synagogue now houses the Chassidic Route cultural and information center, as well as a museum portraying the history of Jews in Zamość and surrounding areas. In addition to hosting educational activities and cultural events, the synagogue is available for religious services.