The Upper Synagogue, also called the Old Synagogue, is located in one of the terraced houses in Husova Street, that represented the main axis of the Mikulov Jewish quarter. It was built on a slopy terrain right at the foot of the Chateau Hill, in an exposed area next to a path leading to the chateau. For liturgical reasons, it is built in a skew position regarding the rest of the buildings. The synagogue is the only preserved one today and was built on the site of the previous synagogue in the Renaissance style in 1550. Still in the 16th century, a women's gallery was added to the 1st floor and in 1698, the women's (winter) meeting point was built at the southern side.
Its present Baroque form originates in a reconstruction in 1719, when the synagogue was vastly damaged by a fire. The reconstruction was probably done by Johann Christian Oedtl, a Dietrichstein architect, and Ignatius Lengelacher, the creator of the Baroque sanctuary. In the middle of the oratory, four Corinthian columns were built after 1719, interconnected by a small half-circle arcade with a cross vault with four domes in the middle. Following this architectural concept, the Mikulov synagogue belongs to the Eastern type synagogues (for example the Rennaisance synagogue in Lvov). It is one of the few representants of this type in the Czech Republic. Its appearance was further influenced by the empirical adaptation which brought new divided windows.
The last worship in the synagogue took place in 1938. Its interior equipment was then either taken away or destroyed. After the WWII, the building served as a storage and in 1960, in a rather poor condition, it was overtaken by the Czechpslovak State. Between 1977 and 1988, an extensive reconstruction took place and many changes were applied to the synagogue to surpress its religious character. The women's meeting point on the ground floor was rebuilt and newly roofed. The Baroque sanctuary, aron hakodesh, was unfortunately removed completely.
Now, the synagogue is the property of the Jewish Community of Brno. Since the early 1990s, it has been used by the Regional Museum in Mikulov as a concert and exhibition hall. Occasionally, Jewish pilgrims may use it for worships. The synagogue is a part of the educational trail that connects various Jewish monuments and that was opened in 2000. At the ticket office, you can purchase a book about the Jewish community "Jews in Mikulov". The book was published by the Regional Museum in Mikulov in cooperation with the Holocaust Victims Fund. You can buy a Czech, English, and German version of the book.
In the season, you can also rent a key from a nearby Jewish cemetery.
Between 2011 and 2014, the reconstruction of the Mikulov synagogue in Husova street took place as a part of the "10 Stars" project, which covered the revitalization of Jewish monuments in the Czech Republic.
In Mikulov, which for more than four centuries was an important center of the Moravian Jews, there once were twelve synagogues and prayer halls. This one, the oldest, is the only one surviving to these days. It was called the Upper, the Old, the Dome Synagogue, or Altschul. Its foundations date back to 1550.
The present Baroque appearance was created after a fire in 1719. The impressive interior space was conveyed in four domes that are vaulted into a four-column pillar in the middle of the hall. This unique architectural solution that classifies the Mikulov synagogue as a Polish (or Eastern) type was not used elsewhere in the Czech Republic. The interior of the main prayer hall is richly decorated with stuccos and cartouches.
The synagogue still served its religious purposes shortly after the World War II, when the Jewish community, destroyed in the war, was temporarily renewed. Then, for decades, the synagogue was deteorating. Thanks to the Regional Museum in Mikulov, it was rescued from demolition. In a period from 1977 to 1989, it underwent a challenging reconstruction. Unfortunately, the destroyed building could not be restored to its original form. The winter meeting point and the decaying annex with a stairway to the women's gallery were demolished. Hebrew inscriptions in the main hall were covered with a new painting, the Baroque sanctuary, called aron hakodesh, a unique work of the Austrian sculptor Ignatius Lengelacher, was removed.
The main goal of the "10 stars" project was to return the synagogue to its Baroque form from 1719-1723. A new winter meeting point was built according to the original plan, the stairs were returned to the women's gallery, the floor level was lowered, the stucco decoration including the cartouches with Hebrew inscriptions were restored. According to historical photographs and paintings, a new aron hakodesh was built by a restorer MgA. Josef Červinka. Other authors of the restored interior are MgA. Jana Waisserová and Kateřina Krhánková, DiS. The synagogue now serves various exhibition purposes and other cultural events held by the Regional Museum in Mikulov - a partner of the reconstruction project and a long-term enterpreneur.