The 17th-century Kupa Synagogue serves Krakow’s Jewish community as one of the venues for religious ceremonies and cultural festivals, notably the annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. The synagogue is a fine example of Baroque architecture and is richly decorated with paintings from the 1920s, featured on walls, the ceiling and in the women’s section.
The colourful interior of the Kupa Synagogue serves as an exhibition hall and a venue for musical events. The northern wall connects the building with the remnants of the mediaeval city wall of Kazimerz, while its southern flank faces Warszauera Street.
The synagogue was founded in 1643 by the Kazimierz Jewish district’s kehilla (a municipal form of self-government), as a foundation for the local qahal (qahals were autonomous governments of Jewish communities in Eastern Europe). The building underwent many renovations throughout the centuries.
In 1830-1834 the two-storey annex was added to the synagogue, with entrance hall and washrooms. In 1861 the western wing was built. At the end of the 19th century, the synagogue was joined with the adjacent building. During the German occupation the interior of the synagogue was severely devastated. Following ravages of World War II, and after being a small factory and a storage house for a short period, it was meticulously restored between 1995 and 2002. Today, the synagogue serves the Jewish community as a congregation place and venue for lectures, concerts, exhibitions, and of course for religious services.
The synagogue was built in a Baroque style, with a square prayer hall inside. The numerous paintings inside feature the holy places of Hebron, Tiberias and Jerusalem. There are also Biblical scenes and illustrations to verses in Psalms, such as the painting showing people standing by the rivers of Babylon.
Another painting inside the synagogue depicts Noah’s Ark, including the figure of Noah – quite unusual since the use of human images was very rare in Jewish art. The signs of the Zodiac are painted over the women’s gallery. There are also remnants of earlier paintings from the 17th to 18th centuries. Inside, there is also a carved wood and stucco Torah Ark, from the early 17th century.