Restored Alytus Sinagogue, Source: Alytus City Municipality/Facebook

Alytus Sinagogue: restoration is over

Alytus Sinagogue: restoration is over

The historic building will house a division of the Alytus Ethnographic Museum

Crumbling masonry, missing wall bricks, dismantled doors and windows... Such was the condition of the Alytus Sinagogue in 2016, just before the start of the building’s restoration undertaken by Lithuania’s Cultural Infrastructure Centre (KIC).

EUR 1 million for restoration works

Now, nearly five years later, the EUR 1 million renovation of the historic building is complete, says a post on the municipal Facebook page. Yesterday, the Mayor of Alytus City Municipality Nerijus Cesiulis, accompanied by A. Jakunskiene, Director of the Alytus Ethnographic Museum and cultural heritage experts inspected the site. Their conclusion was that minor shortcomings remain to be eliminated by the contractor.

Right afterwards, the Synagogue will be handed over to the Alytus Ethnographic Museum and will house one of its divisions – the Visual Arts Centre. The building will become a space for cultural events, hosting exhibitions, including a permanent display on local Jewish history, as well as conferences, seminars, educational programmes, book presentations, film screenings, etc.

Salt warehouse, chicken hatchery...

The yellow-and-red brick synagogue was erected in 1911 after a fire raging through Alytus destroyed an older wooden synagogue built in 1856. Its function as a religious site ended with the demise of the city’s Jewish community in the Second World War. The looted and abandoned building stood empty for a long time, and during the Soviet era, it was used as a warehouse for salt, then as a chicken hatchery.

In spite of the synagogue’s bleak condition, some of the interior decorations survived, including polychrome paintings in the main sanctuary which were successfully renewed.

According to KIC data, costs for the restoration amounted to over EUR 1 million. Of this total, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture allocated EUR 206 056 from European Union funds; Alytus City Municipality contributed EUR 238 504, and EUR 584 200 came from the funds of the Heritage Management Programme.

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