The vault of the main prayer hall of the Great Synagogue (Hoykhe Shul) in Botoşani contains some of the most interesting and earliest wall and ceiling paintings preserved anywhere in Romania. The ceiling holds a large canvas consisting of individual strips of fabric, each between 0.5 and 2 meters in width, that have been tightly fastened together. The surrounding vault decoration was likely accomplished after the canvas was already attached to the ceiling. The Torah ark must have been erected after the canvas was in place; its upper tier extends into the vault area and artistically merges with the plafond decoration. One may therefore presume that the date of the painted canvas on the ceiling must correspond to the date of the Torah ark with which it is interconnected. According to an accompanying inscription, the Torah ark was created in 1861.
The paintings on the ceiling canvas comprise the central section of the vault plafond. This central space is surrounded by two lower tiers of wide decorative borders containing various additional paintings. A double-headed heraldic eagle bearing the triple Habsburg crown appears at the very center of the vault against a background of blue sky and gold stars. A wreath of red and white roses encircles the eagle. A large garland of roses also separates the central space (with eagle and sky) from a broad border ground with rocaille cartouches, medallions, and stylized monkeys.
The second and third tiers of the border regions of the vault were conceived as a decorative architectural cornice. They contain frames filled with images of animals, Zodiac signs, and urban landscapes.
The condition of the vault paintings is poor. The canvas fabric is torn in many places, and large fragments of the paintings have been damaged by humidity and mold. By contrast, the Torah ark and wall paintings already underwent restoration in 2010.
For the central motifs see:
For the Zodiac signs see:
For the animal motifs see:
For the urban landscapes see:
For the east section of the vault decoration see:
For the west section of the vault decoration see:
For the north section of the vault decoration see:
For the south section of the vault decoration see: