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The Izaak Synagogue: Ul. Kupa 18
The Izaak Synagogue can chart its history from the 1600s. The synagogue was founded by Izaak Jakubowicz, one of the richest Jews in Krakow. It was opened despite protests from the residents in Christian Kazimierz who were angry that the synagogue was going to be the largest building in the district. Not only was it the biggest building it was also furnished to the highest standards possible.
Two Italians were behind the building and design of the synagogue, Giovanni Battista Trevano and Giovanni Falconi. The main interior consists of a men's prayer room and a gallery for women. The gallery is located on the upper floor and is separated from the main hall by arcades composed of Tuscan columns.
During the Nazi occupation, the synagogue's richly decorated interior was destroyed and the synagogue used as a storage warehouse. It was also here that in December 1939 the SS shot an official of the Jewish community after refusing to burn the Torah scrolls.
After the war, the building ceased to belong to the Jewish Community. In the 1950s the synagogue passed into the hands of the Artists' Union and was used as a sculptors' workshop until 1969. The 1970s marked a low point for the synagogue when it was badly damaged by fire and became nothing more than a ruin.
Efforts to restore the synagogue began in 1983 with renovation work being undertaken. In 1994 further restoration work uncovered murals which were partially reconstructed. In 1998 renovation work also took place on the synagogue's exhibition rooms.
Today the Izaak Synagogue is very much a living synagogue. Open to tourists, the synagogue hosts a permanent exhibition showing two very different archive films on the life of Jews:
The Jewish District of Krakow (1936) and The Removal to the Cracow Ghetto (1941).
There is also a collection of historic photographs, not only of Jewish life, but also of foreign dignitaries visiting significantly Jewish historic sites within Poland. The synagogue is also used for concerts and meetings. Leaflets and a range of books can also be found at the synagogue.
Opening times and prices:
The synagogue is open everyday except Saturday and Jewish holidays from 9:00 am to 7:00pm. Entry costs 7 zloty with photography costing 10 zloty.
From Autumn to Spring the synagogue closes earlier on Friday depending on when the sun sets. The same rule is applied on any day prior to Jewish holidays when the sunset also dictates when the synagogue closes.