The synagogue is being examined by archaeologists

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Archaeological research has begun in the Trenčín synagogue, which may reveal another part of its history. In the western part of the building, between the pillars of the emporium, excavation work is currently being carried out under the supervision of experts. Archaeologists expect to discover the masonry of the city fortifications and the remains of the original synagogue, which stood here in the past.

Originally, two probes were to be located in the synagogue. In order to reach the necessary depth, thanks to which the archaeological situation can be verified, only one has become a reality these days. Its dimensions are approximately 5 x 3 meters. "The probe was determined on the basis of a geophysical survey and archival research of the synagogue and in agreement with the Trenčín Regional Monuments Office," explains the managing director of Achilles Group s. r. o., archaeologist Roman Kos.

He added that their archaeological team had already collaborated in the research of several sacral buildings, such as churches and chapels. They have their premiere in the synagogue, while expectations from the more than 100-year-old building are high. "On the site of the current synagogue stood the originally wooden synagogue, which was located in the immediate vicinity of the western walls near the Lower Gate of the city. After a large fire in the city in 1790, it had to be rebuilt, because the original building burned down with many historically valuable documents. In 1873, it was expanded and served its purpose until the construction of a new, contemporary synagogue. The history of the place where it is still located is really rich, "says Oľga Hodálová, president of the Jewish Community of Trenčín.

Archeology assumes that they will discover the masonry of the city fortifications, the floor of the original synagogue and its foundation. The results of the survey will be announced to the Regional Monuments Office, and subsequently a monument supervision will be convened.

Archaeological research precedes the reconstruction of the Trenčín synagogue. After many years of efforts, the Jewish community in Trenčín succeeded with its project "Restoration, Reconstruction and Revitalization of the Synagogue in Trenčín". Comunity received 898,000 EUR from EEA Grants and from the state budget of the Slovak Republic within the Culture Program. The total eligible costs are almost 1,009,000 euros, the rest is partially co-financed by the Jewish religious community.

The project includes reconstruction work and restoration of part of the original interior painting. Subsequently, the synagogue will become a modern space that will host various cultural events. It will also include a unique exhibition of Jewish culture of Middle Považie. Part of the building will be used for meetings of the Jewish community and the purposes of the Jewish religious community. Construction work should begin this year. Thanks to the project, however, only less than half of the synagogue's interior will be restored.

About the project - The project entitled "Restoration, Reconstruction and Revitalization of the Synagogue in Trenčín" was approved under the program "Entrepreneurship in the field of culture, cultural heritage and cultural cooperation". The Slovak partners in this case are the civic association Synagogue Trenčín and the Jewish Cultural Institute, the Norwegian partner is Det Mosaiske Trossamfund.

About the synagogue - The synagogue on Trenčín's Štúrovo Square was built in 1913, when it replaced the wooden synagogue from the 18th century. It is a timeless work by the designer of the Berlin studio, a native of Trenčín, Dr. Ing. Richard Scheibner and his collaborator Hugo Pál. It was ceremoniously opened and consecrated on 23. September 1913.

The remarkable building is an example of early modernist trends that aimed to reduce decoration while preserving monumental classical forms. It is a mixture of Byzantine and Art Nouveau styles with a modern reinforced concrete dome construction. As evidenced by historical postcards, the main prayer hall was once richly decorated. To this day, several details are visible, including stained glass windows, a blue painting on the dome, and a historic chandelier in its center.

During the Second World War, the synagogue was desecrated by members of the Nazi Nazi organization Freiwillige Schutzstaffel and the Hlinka Guard, who also destroyed its interior. According to the monuments, soldiers on horses rode among the walls of the synagogue. Another blow was the bombing of the city in May 1945, during which a large part of the richly decorated stained glass windows was destroyed.

After the war, Holocaust survivors organized a collection and repaired the synagogue from 1945 to 1948. It was ceremoniously opened and consecrated, with memorial plaques bearing the names of Holocaust victims on its premises. The original paper plates, which were later added, are still stored in the archives of the Jewish religious community, metal plates with the names of Holocaust victims hang in the synagogue.

Under the previous regime, they set up a clothing warehouse in the synagogue, and reconstruction in the 1970s and 1980s destroyed its original acoustics and original decoration. In 1990, a new plaque was erected in the synagogue in honor of the tortured victims of the Holocaust. In the back of the building, they restored a small prayer house, which is still used for liturgical purposes.

The synagogue was eventually used as an exhibition hall as much as possible, but due to its condition it has become more and more sporadic until recently. In 1993, it was restituted by the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities, which in 2018 returned it to the property of the restored Jewish religious community in Trenčín.

Acknowledgments: The project Restoration, Reconstruction and Revitalization of the Synagogue in Trenčín received a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in the amount of € 763,300 € through EEA Grants. The project was co-financed in the amount of € 134,700 from the state budget of the Slovak Republic. The aim of the project is the reconstruction of the historic building of the Trenčín Synagogue, thanks to which its technical condition will be improved and part of its original appearance will be restored. The national cultural monument will also become part of the map of important cultural stands in Slovakia. A cultural center will be established in its premises, thanks to which the public will learn more about Jewish culture and its rich history. The project should also carry a clear message in the fight against extremism and hate speech.