The castle, once the seat of the Lubomirski and Potocki families, is
an early Baroque building (1629-1641) designed by M. Trapoli. It
contains stucco decorations by J.B. Falconi and spires by Tylman of
Gameren. Later extended by P. Aigner who added a second floor and
another wing. The palace complex includes historical monuments: the
orangery (1800), the romantic little castle (1800), the bastions
(1629-1641), the landscape park (18th-20th centuries). In 1944 the
furnishings were sent abroad by the palace's last proprietor Alfred
Potocki. It is a venue for the festival The Music in the Lancut Castle.
Outside the palace complex: the church of St Stanislaus (15th century),
the Dominican monastery (15th century) and the cloister of the Sisters
of Mercy of St Borromeo (18th century).
The Castle in Lancut, photo
Jews arrived here sometime before 1567 and within ahundred years
there was afully functioning community with asynagogue and acemetery. In
Lancut it was possible to encounter two somewhat rare professions:
glaziery and wood-carving. The attitude of the owners of Lancut evolved
from initial mistrust (in 1613 Jews were forbidden to trade in the town,
although this was revoked soon after) to approval, particularly among
the Lubomirski family who realised that the Jews had the ability to
drive the economy. The 19th century saw the rise of Chasidism and the
development of the town. Lancut, however, did not share the fate of many
of the small towns in Galicia. The railway passed through it, and the
town's next owners, the Potocki family, invested heavily, setting up
factories which produced liqueurs, vodka, sugar and eau de cologne.
Prosperity was not short-lived and consequently attracted many Jews to
the town. Some three thousand lived here, which represented 40% of the
During the inter-war period Lancut was noted for the strength of its
Zionist groups. Several different types of school were to be found
there, including Zionist, Hebrew (belonging to the Tarbut network) and
Beys Yakov, atraditional school for girls. In September 1939 the Jews of
Lancut were expelled to the zone occupied by the Soviets. About
athousand people remained behind and on 1 August 1942 they were deported
to the camp at Pelkinia. There the Nazis murdered children, the elderly
and the sick. Those adults who were fit enough to work were sent to the
camp at Belzec, where they later perished.
The synagogue was built in 1761 and financed by Stanislaw
Lubomirski, the owner of the town andprotector of the Jews. He was
probably reasoning in asimilar fashion to the founders of the synagogue
in Sejny and erected such an impressive building to encourage more
Orthodox Jews to settle in Lancut.
The synagogue's rich decorations are its main attraction. The oldest
of these, from the 18th century, is aband of stuccoes at the top of the
walls and to the base of the arches of the vaulting. The wall paintings
with shallow arcades filled with prayer texts come from the 18th and
19th centuries. The synagogue avoided destruction during the Second
World War thanks to Alfred Potocki, the owner of the castle, who forced
the Germans to extinguish the fire they had started, and only those
parts made of wood, such as the second gallery for women, were
destroyed. From 1983 to 1990 the synagogue underwent a major overhaul.
It is quite amazing that its adornments, thanks to which we are able to
study the motifs of Jewish decorative art, have survived to this day. As
there is no heating, the synagogue is open during the summer months
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In the entrance hall there is acollection
of matzevot retrieved from the two local cemeteries, both destroyed by
the Nazis. On the right there is the smaller of the prayer halls, known
as the Lublin Hall, once used for meetings of the kahal and the
rabbinical court. The name derives from the Seer of Lublin (see page
163), who, before settling by the River Bystrzyca, lived for awhile with
his disciples in Lancut. In this very hall an even greater figure,
Elimelech of Lezajsk, the Seer's teacher (see page 246), also used to
pray. The interior is decorated with wall-paintings from 1912.
The bima, photo
In the main hall pride of place is taken by the bimah. Its
fundamental features are four thick columns with richly sculpted tops.
The space above the arches is taken up by symbolic representations, such
as deer or menorot. The vault of the small dome inside the bimah is
worth acloser look. Here we can see an image of aserpent swallowing its
own tail. It is asymbol of eternity and immortality, and also a portant
of messianic times. Above the bimah, dating from 1906, are paintings of
the following biblical scenes: the temptation of Adam in the Garden of
Eden, the sacrifice of Cain and Abel, Noah's ark and the sacrifice of
Isaac. Another important place is the aron ha-kodesh and the recess for
the Torah scrolls, covered by aparochet and situated on the eastern
wall. The most beautiful and crowning feature of the recess is ahand
bestowing ablessing, the symbol of the ministry, created in stucco,
colourfully painted and adorned with acrown and an ornament bearing
representations of plants.
The upper band of the walls to the base of the arches of the
vaulting is created in stucco dating from the second half of the 18th
century. The wealth of examples of plants and shells (rocailles typical
of Rococo style) is quite eye-catching. Figures of animals are hidden in
aconfusion of deliberately twisted lines. Apart from the signs of the
zodiac there are also images of different festivals, arranged in such
away as to blend in with the star signs. The delightful green landscape
above Gemini signifies Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks (on this holiday,
corresponding to Polish Whitsun, synagogues are decorated with leaves
and flowers); the view of the synagogue and Jerusalem refers to the
festival of Chanukah. The signs of the zodiac in the shape of medallions
form acircle around the prayer area. What is noticeable is the lack of
representation of the human form. Athick Syrian cornice, one of the
oldest decorative motifs found in synagogues, runs around the lower part
of the walls. Moulded and coloured, it goes up to just above the door
and the recess for the aron ha-kodesh. Above the cornice are the arcades
in each of which there is aprayer text, the first being written here in
the 18th century and the last shortly before the Second World War. In
the synagogue you can view large-scale illustrations depicting the
history of the Lancut Jewish community as well as many items used in
religious ceremonies. These include aTorah scroll and its adornments
such as ayad (pointer for reading), amenorah, spice-boxes, Seder plates,
Chanukah lamps and atallit.
At the intersection of ul. Zamkowa and ul. 3 Maja. The synagogue is
administered by Muzeum-Zamek (the castle museum) open daily 9am-3pm,
phone +17 2252008. Owing to heating problems the synagogue is open to
visitors during the months of July and August only.
The Jewish Cemetery
The Lancut Jewish cemetery is in fact just an empty field with
afence round it, containing the remains of anumber of matzevot and two
oholot. It is usually visited by people travelling from the local
synagogue to the cemetery in Lezajsk.
From the castle go towards the House of Culture. Turn left into ul.
Moniuszki. First take the key from Ms Helen Kuzniar at ul. Jagiellonska
17, phone +17 2252142 (turn right at the crossroads before you get to
the cemetery, fourth house on the right, deep in the garden).