Synagogue in Tykocin

17th Century Baroque Synagogue in Tykocin

The photograph above shows the exterior of the Tykocin Synagogue, built in 1642, in the village of Tykocin. Considered one of the finest Synagogues in Poland, it was built after the Polish laws, which controlled the construction of Jewish temples, were revoked and thereafter there were no more regulations concerning the size or prominence of a Synagogue. Restored in the 1970ies, it is now a popular tourist attraction, included on all the Jewish heritage tours. This photo was taken in October 1998 when I toured Poland.

Interior of 17th century Synagogue in Tykocin

The interior of the Synagogue in Tykocin has been preserved as a museum with a few glass display cases holding such items as prayer shawls along the walls. The caretaker of the Synagogue and museum is a Polish Catholic. When I went inside the Synagogue, he turned on a tape recording of cantorial music so that I could hear, as well as see, what it was like here on the Sabbath, more than half a century ago.

The photograph above and the two photographs below are shots of the magnificent interior of the Synagogue. The photo above shows the bimah (pulpit) in the center of the Synagogue. The four massive columns, connected by arches, support the vaulted ceiling. According to my tour guide, this architectural style is unique to Orthodox Polish Synagogues; the first Synagogue to use this style was in Lublin, but it was destroyed by the Nazis. The photo directly below is a closeup of the bimah. The second photo below shows the Holy Ark on the east wall of the Synagogue where the sacred Torah is kept.

Close-up of bimah in 17th century Synagogue in Tykocin

The Holy Ark where the sacred Torah is kept

A narrow circular staircase winds up to a two-room apartment in the tower above the Synagogue where the rabbi formerly lived, with one room on the first floor above ground level and another room on the floor above. Both rooms are very crowded, being no more than 8 by 10 feet in size. One room has a table set as if for a Seder, the traditional ceremonial meal served on Passover.