Visiting an old synagogue in Tykocin

Our trip to North Eastern Poland continues. Yesterday we visited an old synagogue in Tykocin that today serves as an museum of the Jewish tradition. Above some photos of the interior.

The synagogue was built in the late 17th century and is considered one of the best-preserved examples of a Baroque synagogue in Poland. The interior of the synagogue features a beautiful painted ceiling and ornate wooden carvings. The building of the synagogue was constructed on a square plan with dimensions of 18 by 18 meters. The main hall has a lowered floor, which is a reference to the words of Psalm: “Out of the depths I call to you, Lord!” This verse refers to the desire for salvation from deep despair and reminds believers that prayer should come from the depths of their hearts and spirits. The lowered floor symbolizes entering the synagogue with repentance and humility, as well as emphasizing the importance of prayer as a spiritual ascent.

The main square prayer hall reaching a height of 9 meters, features a nine-vaulted ceiling that is typical of many Polish synagogues. In the middle of the hall, we find the podium or in Jewish bimah. It was used as a place where the Torah scrolls were read and the leader of the prayer service stood. The bimah is made of wood and is richly decorated with intricate carvings and painted designs.

The Holy Ark, which houses the Torah scrolls, is located at the eastern end of the building. In Jewish, Aron ha-kodesh is a central feature of the interior of a traditional Jewish synagogue, and it is typically located on the eastern wall facing Jerusalem. The Aron ha-kodesh is a cabinet or niche that houses the Torah scrolls, which are the most sacred objects in Jewish religious practice. The Ark is made of stone and is highly decorated with intricate carvings and ornamentation in the Mannerist style. It features two columns and a large pediment with a Torah crown in a circular medallion. The entire structure is covered with a new, richly woven parochet, which is a decorative curtain or covering that is used to conceal the Ark when it is not in use. There are many theories about the exact date of its creation, but it is estimated that the Aron ha-kodesh was made in the 1660s, shortly after the construction of the synagogue itself.

The synagogue was closed during World War II and used as a storage facility by the German army. After the war, it was used as a warehouse and later fell into disrepair. The restoration of the Old Synagogue in Tykocin began in the 1990s and was completed in 2009. Now it is a museum and cultural center dedicated to the Jewish heritage of Tykocin and the surrounding area. It is no longer used for religious services.

Visiting an old synagogue in Tykocin