Yiddish: Premishla, Premishle
The city is rich in historical monuments: the Catholic cathedral
church of St John the Baptist (initially Gothic, 1460-1571), rebuilt in
Baroque style (1724-1744) and partly remodelled (1883-1913); the
Franciscan monastery (founded in 1235), with the Baroque church of St
Mary-Magdalene (1754-1777), the altar contains sculptures by Piotr
Polejowski (1716-1764); the former Jesuit monastery by Jacop Brian
(1622); the college building containing the Diocesal Museum with a
collection of sacral art; the monastery of Discalced Carmelites
(1627-1630) with the Greek-Catholic cathedral (initially the church of
St Theresa, functioning as cathedral from 1784 to 1945 and in the
1990s); the Reformed Franciscan Order monastery (founded in 1627) with
St Anthony's church (1637-1645); the royal castle built in late
Renaissance style (1612-1630), later remodelled, with the remains of a
palatium and a pre-Romanesque chapel from the 10th-12th centuries; the
remains of city walls; the palace of Greek-Catholic bishops from 1757,
now containing the Museum of the Przemysl Region; the 19th-century
Austrian fortifications: the gates, moats and ramparts; the Lubomirski
palace in Bakonczyce (second half of 19th century); the Benedictine nuns
cloister in Zasanie (founded in 1916) with the Holy Trinity church
(1768-1777) and the defence wall with loop-holes (second half of 17th
century), partly in ruin.
The Castel, photo
The first confirmed reports of Jews in Przemysl date from the turn
of the 14th century, when they began to settle along the trade route to
Lvov. In the Middle Ages Przemysl Jews were moneylenders and also made
their living from handicraft and trade. In 1559 King Sigismund Augustus
granted Jews the privilege of legal autonomy. When Przemysl was part of
the Austrian Empire it became acentre of the Haskalah, which placed it
in direct opposition to the numerous neighbouring centres of Chasidism.
The proportion of Jews in the population of Przemysl at the beginning of
the 20th century never exceeded about 30%.
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Przemysl, ul. Dworskiego, photo
In September 1939, Przemysl was divided by the German-Soviet border.
The town centre found itself in the Soviet Union (in 1940 the Jews were
exiled to deepest Russia) while the Zasanie district was now within the
borders of the Nazi empire. After Germany attacked the Soviet Union,
some of the Jews were deported to Belzec, while the rest were locked in
the ghetto. The ghetto was dissolved in September 1943, although some
Jews remained behind as part of aclearing-up brigade. In all 250 Jews
survived the war but they all left soon after due to the conflict
between Poland and Ukraine, as well as the general geopolitical
Local monuments of Jewish culture are collected together in the
National Museum of the Przemysl Region in ul. Czackiego. There is also a
Jewish cemetery (on the same side, past the Catholic cemetery in ul.
Slowackiego; the gate is open most of the time). As you enter the
cemetery you will find graves dating from the 20th century. Further on
there are also some much older ones.
The Szajnbach Synagogue
The larger and better preserved of the two remaining synagogue
buildings is amemorial to the triumph of the Haskalah in Przemysl and
this is how it got its former rather colloquial name, the Tempel.
The synagogue, photo
This place of worship is situated outside the Jewish quarter, to the
south east of the old town. In 1960-1961 it was converted into a
library. At the same time the wall paintings were obliterated and the
stained-glass windows removed. Intermediary ceilings and walls were
added, rendering impossible any attempt to give the building areligious
feel or to use it for exhibition purposes. Only the exterior decor
remains untouched, admirable for its late 19th-century pomposity.
At ul. Slowackiego 15, quite away down the street near the
Slowackiego-Biblioteka bus-stop (buses # 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 19, 24).
The library is open Tuesday to Friday from 9am-7pm. On Saturdays
9am'5pm. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
The Synagogue in Zasanie
The second of the Przemysl synagogues also dates from the end of the
19th century. The Society for the Israelite House of Worship in Zasanie
originally built the synagogue for the district on the left bank of the
River San and it was eventually opened in 1909. It served the faithful
for only thirty years, as that part of Przemysl fell under Nazi control
as early as 1939. The occupiers turned it into atemporary power station,
adding many ramshackle houses, some of which surround it to this day.
After the war the synagogue was used as agarage, first for buses and
then for ambulances. In 1994 attempts were made to put an art gallery
here. So far, however, the building has remained wrecked, closed and
Just past the bridge over the River San in Zasanie, at Plac Unii
Brzeskiej 6 (alarge square opposite the Statoil filling station), not
far from the Orthodox Church.