There were two synagogues in the inner city Jewish quarter – the Great City Synagogue and the Turei Zahav Synagogue (the Golden Rose). It is believed that the oldest synagogue in Lviv once stood on the site of the Great City Synagogue in the 14th century, and was destroyed in the city fire of 1527. Another synagogue, probably built in the Gothic style, was built here in 1555, and served as the community’s main synagogue until the beginning of the 17th century when it became too small for the growing congregation.

The Golden Rose synagogue, built privately by the financier Yitzhak ben of Nachman (Isaak Nachmanovych) on an adjacent plot in 1582, then took over the role of main synagogue, and many of the community’s religious reliquaries were transferred there. The Golden Rose, designed by the master builder Paulus Italus (Paolo the Italian), was one of the lost spectacular late-sixteenth-century Renaissance architectural landmarks of the city. From 1654 to 1667, the famous scholar and rabbi, David Ha-Levi Segal, known for his work “Turei Zahav” (The Golden Lines), prayed here, and hence it also became known as the Turei Zahav. By the end of the 18th century, the Golden Rose itself had become too small for the community. It was therefore decided to replace the old synagogue that still stood on the neighbouring site, with a much bigger building.
The new “Great City Synagogue” opened in 1801 and became the main synagogue of the inner city Jewish quarter. The Beth Hamidrash (House of Learning) building, located between the two synagogues, was first mentioned in the 17th century and was originally a timber structure. In 1797, it was rebuilt in brick and contained a heated library and study rooms on the upper floor, and a vaulted prayer hall on the ground floor, which was laid out as a synagogue with a bima and benches, and was the main element of the building. All three buildings were destroyed by the Nazis during the Second World War. Fragments of one of the walls of the Golden Rose survived, but otherwise the places where these buildings once stood are now empty and abandoned.
Synagogue Square (nowadays called Arsenalna Square) is located in the historical inner city of viv, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area of the competition site was once a central place in Lviv‘s historical Jewish quarter, but is now in a very bad state of repair. It‘s surfaces are damaged and broken, surrounding buildings are part dilapidated or sprayed with graffiti, and the ruins of the 16th century Golden Rose Synagogue are hidden behind a makeshift metal fence. Instead of being a public space that reflects and respects its special historical significance, it is used for parking cars and it is sometimes used as an occasional informal meeting place.
If the square remains as it is, an empty inner city space with no identity or function, it is under the threat of inappropriate commercial development seeking to exploit the potentials of a prime site for services and tourism. Responsible and timely action is therefore needed to recognize and safeguard the square as part of the city’s cultural heritage, and as a public amenity for the benefit of local residents, visitors and the city as a whole.

The site of Great City Synagogue nowadaysGreat City Synagogue.  The remains of the outer fortification wall at the time of king Wladisław Jagiełło.The photo of the Jewish quarter in Janusz Witwicki’s plastic model of Old LvivThe interior of the ''Golden Rose'' SynagogueEntrance to the ''Golden Rose'' Synagogue. 1910-1912.The view of the praying hall where the Torah was kept. Ruined ''Golden Rose'' Synagogue, 1941.Ruins of the ''Golden Rose'' Synagogue and Beth Hamidrash nowadays