We started with the reconstruction of the synagogue in Trenčín

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Thanks to the restoration, the national cultural monument, which is located in the heart of the regional city, will turn into a modern cultural center.


The reconstruction of the more than 100-year-old synagogue has begun in Trenčín. The Jewish community in Trenčín received 898,000 € for the project from European Economic Area (EEA) Grants and from the state budget of the Slovak Republic as part of the Culture program. Another 110,989 € represents her financial participation. Construction work started these days, and in the spring of 2024 the synagogue should function as a modern cultural center.


"We are very happy that we managed to start. As part of the project, we are practically eliminating the consequences of the insensitive reconstruction of the synagogue, which occurred during the previous regime. Then they whitewashed its monumental decoration, destroyed the acoustics and the floor, bringing it to its current state. I hope that this is the last time we have to deal with the reconstruction of this unique building," said the president of the Jewish community in Trenčín, Oľga Hodálová.


The reconstruction of the synagogue is provided by Pamarch, s. r. about. from Nitra, which has extensive experience in the restoration of historical buildings. "Over the past two years, we have managed to obtain several orders that are financed from EEA Grants and from the state budget. For us, this is a very good way of financing, because it understands the changes that often occur in the case of the restoration of monuments," stated company manager Ján Kresan.


The work in the interior of the synagogue is under the supervision of the Regional Monument Office in Trenčín. They are currently following the established schedule. The first stage should be completed by the spring of next year. "We started demolition work last week. We remove the footing and floor layers, then replace them with new ones and also add waterproof insulation. We will also deal with underfloor heating and sanitary technology. Then comes the restoration of individual rooms and paintings," informed project manager Stanislav Rebo.


Construction work has already significantly changed the iconic monument in the center of Trenčín. "I was fascinated that when the walled doors in the first part were torn down, the synagogue suddenly took on a completely different dimension, a different light, a different atmosphere. When I imagine that there will be painting again, monumental Art Deco, stained glass windows, it will be amazing," said Oľga Hodálová.


The end of the project is planned for April 2024, when the synagogue should function as a modern cultural space that will be used for concerts and exhibitions. It will also include a unique exposition of the Jews of Central Považie. Part of the building will continue to be used for Jewish community meetings and purposes.


The synagogue is also one of the partners of the European Capital of Culture 2026 project. However, for its complete restoration, the Jewish Community in Trenčín will need additional funding, as the current project deals with only about half of the interior. "It is a large and demanding construction. The prices of building materials have also risen, so the tendered price will not be enough. For now, we are saddened by this, but we are looking for a solution and I am convinced that we will find it," concluded Oľga Hodálová.


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 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 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.