The remnants of what is thought to be a 14th century synagogue have been found during a building renovation in the city of Wrocław.
Thought to have been one of the largest in Central Europe, the temple’s remains were discovered in the city’s old town.
Archaeologists uncovered brick walls dating back to the 14th century, hidden beneath layers of plaster that resemble medieval European synagogue systems.
Małgorzata Chorowska from Wrocław University said: “The fact that instead of the expected burgher tenement houses we have a synagogue, and above all its size, was quite a surprise.”
Building on earlier research, Professor Chorowska and her team are confident that these remains represent an integration of a 14th-century synagogue into the walls of the later city palace of the Legnica-Brzeg branch of the Piast dynasty for 300 years.
Wrocław University’s Historical Institute, housed within the building, has been at the forefront of this project which was discovered in 2021 and has had architects working there ever since.
Mateusz Goliński, from the Historical Institute’s department of Polish and general history, said: “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.”
The synagogue’s potential historical significance stretches further with researchers believing that this might be the synagogue of Wrocław’s first Jewish community, an assertion that aligns with the city’s rich Jewish history dating back to the 12th century.
Professor Chorowska said: “Despite a very good recognition of the medieval architecture of Wrocław and many years of archaeological research of buildings demolished to the foundations, until the time of the ongoing renovation, it was not possible to determine the location or any material remains of the oldest synagogues in the city.”