Excavations at Synagogue square site in L’viv

From September 26, 2012 archaeological works are taking on Arsenal Square and the adjacent area on Staroevreiska Street. Identification of the precise layout of the foundations and information-gathering on the buildings of the Great Synagogue and Beth Hamidrash, both destroyed during World War II, constitutes the first step in the project of reconstructing Synagogue Square. The Office of Historical Environment Preservation of the Lviv City Council has ordered the work, and it will be completed by the Rescue Archeological Service of the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The dig will proceed under the leadership of Oleh Osalchuk and Iurii Lukovskyi, and will last until the end of September 2012.

This archaeological research is part of the project of reconstructing Synagogue Square, which is one of the attempts to honor the memory of Lviv's Jewish community and draw attention to the city's multi-ethnic past, the importance of preserving its multi-cultural heritage, and promote awareness of the history of the Jewish community of Lviv.

The Synagogue Square project is designed by architect Franz Reshke (Berlin), whose concept was selected by an international jury at an open international competition in December 2010 from 35 entries. The winning project, as well as the other projects, could be seen at an exhibition at the Palace of Art in 2010 and at the exhibition hall of the Center for Urban History in April 2011. These projects are now accessible online: http://www.design-competitions.lviv.ua/

In October 2011 a joint Ukrainian-German project, "Municipal Development and Rehabilitation of the Old City of Lviv," invited winning architect Franz Reschke to visit Lviv, so that he could present his project in detail and gather additional information for completing his design.

Numerous meetings and conversations with both the general public as well as specialists in Lviv, access to new documents, historical data and designs, and a personal visit to the former Jewish neighborhood all gave Reschke the opportunity for closer acquaintance with the atmosphere of the competition's area and its surroundings. Reschke's further elaboration of his winning design reflects his impressions and the information he gathered. It now better responds to local demands and needs and offers a vision, which allows leaving opportunities for this area's future growth open, while still preserving historical heritage.

The project envisages that the territory of the Golden Rose synagogue should remain as it is, and only be strengthened and preserved; the territory of the Beth Hamidrash should remain a green zone open for further development; and the area of the Great Synagogue should become a memorial square honoring the memory of the synagogue and its destruction, and also provide an open space for the public.

Co-organizers of the project are the City of Lviv, the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, and the Ukrainian-German project, "Municipal Development and Rehabilitation of the Old City of Lviv," under the aegis of the German Society for International Cooperation (GiZ) GmbH. In realizing this project the organizers are combining their efforts, so that a place that was once one of the centers of Jewish life in Lviv will be acknowledged and represented in the city's urban structure as a place of Jewish history and will be memorialized in the proper way.

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