Györ synagogue approaching from town

Back of Györ synagogue across the school courtyard

Györ synagogue exterior, showing unrestored and restored aspects

Györ synagogue exterior, showing unrestored and restored aspects

Unrestored side wall, and restored front, Györ synagogue

Plaque about the partial restoration, Györ synagogue

Györ Synagogue interior, from a brochure


...Györ, 1217pm. I buy a map from the kiosk outside the railway station, and, suitcase in tow, head west on Szent István ùt, north on Munkácsy Mihály utca, then over the bridge crossing the Rába, the large grey dome of the synagogue looming ahead.

The attached buildings, formerly a Jewish school and community offices, are now used as a public school, a group of teenage girls playing hockey in the shadow of the buildings.

I walk round to the entrance on shady Kossuth Lajos utca, surprised to find the façade has been meticulously restored with funds from the Hungarian state and a European Union grant two years before.

I `park’ my case and investigate the rest of the building, which is in a very dilapidated state. Windows broken and boarded up, and the brickwork bereft of plaster in large parts, and breaking away.

The severe contrast with the restored section makes the remainder all the more poignant. To have what is possible so vividly illustrated... Yet I can’t help finding the old part the more beautiful. It’s difficult to get clear photos, as the old place is surrounded by large trees.

An elderly lady shuffles over the road and seems to indicate that she has a key. I follow her expectantly, but she disappears into her house and doesn’t emerge again. Sadly I must have misunderstood her.

According to my my guidebook, the octagon-shaped sanctuary under the lofty dome is empty and in poor condition, but some of the elaborate detailed interior decoration is still visible, including tiers of galleries, frescoes, and a bimah with a distinct Middle Eastern flavour.’

The Karoly Benko designed schul dates to 1866, and was sold by the Jewish community in 1969. It has since been abandoned, although other community buildings are now used by the school. Györ's pre WW2 Jewish population of some 7000 were deported to death camps in 1944, and only a remnant of about one hundred now remain.

Jews had lived in the town for hundreds of years, since at least the 14th century, but they were confined on an island in the Danube near the town until the passing of reform laws in the 1800s which allowed them to settle in the town itself.

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