17 July 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Remains of 14th-century Synagogue thought to be one of largest in region discovered in Poland

The remains of what is thought to be a sizeable 14th-century synagogue complex, including a mikvah, have been discovered during research linked to the renovation of the building that houses the Historical Institute of Wrocław University.

The city of Wrocław referred to the discovery in the building’s basement as “sensational” in an article on its website. According to researchers, it might be one of the largest known medieval synagogue complexes in Europe.

The renovation of the building at ul. Szewska 49 in Wrocław, the seat of the Historical Institute of the University of Wrocław and previously, among other things, the palace of the Piasts of Legnica and Brest for about 300 years (15th-17th century), began in 2021.

In an article on its website, the University said that during the renovation work, which began in 2021,  “large expanses of 14th-century walls began to emerge from under the plasterwork.”

After the walls were revealed, archaeologists began working on the site and determined that the unearthed structures resembled the typical layout of medieval European synagogues.

Excavations showing an L-shaped wall, part of what is believed to be a medieval synagogue complex in Wroclaw. Photo: Bente Kahan
Excavations showing an L-shaped wall, part of what is believed to be a medieval synagogue complex in Wroclaw. Photo: Bente Kahan

It quoted Prof. Małgorzata Chorowska, from the Wrocław University of Science and Technology, as saying that  “it was precisely the fact that instead of the expected bourgeois tenement houses we had a synagogue, and above all its size, that was quite a surprise.”

Prior to the Historical Institute, 49 Szewska Street had housed a palace of the Legnica-Brzeg branch of the Piast dynasty for 300 years from the 15th to 17th century.

On the basis of earlier historical and architectural research conducted under Chorowska, there is a “high probability that the remains of a 14th-century synagogue integrated into the walls of the later city palace have just been discovered,” the University of Wrocław published in a statement.

The statement also noted that despite many years of archaeological research of buildings demolished to their foundations, “until the ongoing renovation of the building at 49 Szewska Street, it was not possible to determine the location or find any material remains of the oldest synagogues in Wrocław.”

“The building at 49 Szewska Street is a valuable and very interesting monument, and if the presumption of a synagogue is correct, then we are potentially dealing with the best-preserved relics of one of the oldest, if not the oldest, brick building of its kind in Poland,” Mateusz Goliński of the Historical Institute’s department of Polish and general history was quoted as saying.

Part of the medieval excavations in Wroclaw showing a bricked-up arch. Photo: Bente Kahan

Europe we can suggest that we are dealing with the remains of a synagogue of the first Jewish community in Wrocław,” wrote researchers Prof. Małgorzata Chorowska, Prof. Mateusz Goliński, and architect Mariusz Caban in an article published in the Journal of Heritage Conservation.

Wrocław’s Jewish history dates back to the 12th century, when the city was a major trade center along the Amber Road. The city once boasted one of the largest Jewish communities in East Central Europe. The largest synagogue in the city, then known as Breslau and a part of Nazi Germany, was destroyed by fire during the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938.

Research of the site, which began in 2021, is still ongoing to determine whether the Wrocław synagogue complex is one of the largest in Europe from the first half of the 14th century.

University of Wrocław

Related Articles

A New Hypothesis Tries to Explain What Triggers People’s Big Brains

14 March 2021

14 March 2021

The big brain is the decisive feature of our species. Not only are they the most complex organs in the...

Archaeologists Discovered “Temple of the Emperors” in the Agora of the Ancient City of Nikopolis, Greece

30 May 2024

30 May 2024

The Greek Ministry of Culture declared that fresh discoveries had been made during archaeological excavations at the ancient Nikopolis Agora...

Maya Farmers May Have Planned Population Growth Contrary to Thought

19 November 2021

19 November 2021

Contrary to what was thought, Maya farmers may have planned for population growth, says a new study. According to a...

Centuries-old burials discovered near Antandros Ancient City in Turkey

10 January 2022

10 January 2022

Ancient tombs were discovered during a foundation excavation at a building site near the ancient city of Antandros, which is...

Fossil of a hominid child who died almost 250,000 years ago discovered in South Africa

8 November 2021

8 November 2021

A team of international and South African researchers uncovered the fossil remains of an early hominid kid who died almost...

An opulent 2,000-year-old ‘city hall’ has been discovered near the Western Wall in Israel

8 July 2021

8 July 2021

An important 2,000-year-old public building has been unearthed near the wailing wall in Israel. Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority...

Japan’s Ancient Practice Of Cranial Modification: Hirota people in Tanegashima

21 August 2023

21 August 2023

A team of researchers from Kyushu University and the University of Montana has found evidence suggesting that the Hirota community,...

2,000-Year-Old Mysterious Kangju Burial Mound Filled with Gold Jewelry and Mirror Found in Kazakhstan

2 June 2024

2 June 2024

Archaeologists in Kazakhstan have unearthed gold jewelry, arrowheads, and a large, bronze mirror from three burial mounds in the Tolebaitobe...

One of the earliest water channels in history dating back 8,200 years was discovered in western Türkiye

27 August 2023

27 August 2023

One of the earliest water channels in history dating back 8,200 years was found during the excavation work carried out...

Ancient shipwreck dating back to the 2nd century BC was discovered off the coast of Croatia

14 September 2021

14 September 2021

A shipwreck dating to the 2nd century BC has been discovered in the shallow waters of the Adriatic Sea near...

Archaeologists revealed Urartian King Menua second temple in Van excavations

22 December 2022

22 December 2022

The second temple of King Menua as well as a chamber tomb were unearthed during the excavations carried out this...

The Mountain of Shemharus, King of the Ginn: Toubkal

14 August 2022

14 August 2022

Towering over the Atlas Mountains, Mount Toubkal is the highest peak in Morocco. Toubkal, the highest mountain in all of...

Archaeologists unearth hidden tunnels under the 3,000-year-old temple complex

6 June 2022

6 June 2022

Archaeologists have discovered a system of hidden tunnels beneath the 3,000-year-old Chavín de Huántar temple complex in the Ancash Region...

A center on the Anatolian Mesopotamian trade route; Tavsanli Mound

24 October 2021

24 October 2021

Excavations at Tavşanlı mound, which is known to be the first settlement in Western Anatolia during the Bronze Age, continue....

An 1800-year-old geometric patterned mosaic was discovered in Turkey’s ancient city of Bergama

17 June 2022

17 June 2022

During excavations surrounding the Red Basilica at Pergamon, an ancient city in western Turkey that is a UNESCO World Heritage...