The synagogue of the lower town (Cvjetkova St., or D. Tucovića St., 32)
A freestanding structure oriented West-East, the Osijek Lower Town Synagogue was constructed from 1902-1903. Structurally, it reflects the synagogue of the upper town. Since 1970 used as a Pentecostal church, the structure retains much of its original decoration and detailing. Recent restoration resulted in new painting whose historical authenticity in not assured.
The main facade is tri-partite; two towers, which step forward slightly, flank the broader entrance section. The corners of the central section as well as those of the sides are marked by full-story, engaged pilasters. A soaring round-headed arch, containing a round window above the main, arched door marks the main entrance. Above, a string of small round-headed arches reiterate the gable rise. Above the gable of the entrance are a small pair of round-headed tablets of the law, currently topped by a cross. The main door is gated; the gate design contains a Star of David. The doorway is framed by baseless, combination capitals. The entire structure rests on a base marked by a string course.
The two flanking towers contain entrances to stairs giving access to the upper floors -- the women’s balcony and an additional tower floor with roof access. The towers are quadrangular until the cornice line, where they become octagonal. Above the doorway in each of the towers is a large round-headed window, containing two vertical lights, topped by a smaller, circular light. Three small tourettes mark the out corners of each tower. The towers are capped by silvered onion domes, originally crowned with Stars of David, now replaced by crosses. Alternating panes of blind windows and double pairs of round-headed windows framed and crowned by a round-headed moulding embellish the second level of the tower.
Both sides of the structure are identical and consist of three bays, separated by engaged buttresses. Each of the bays consists of a pair of windows, round-headed, capped by a circular window, and framed in a single, round-headed molding. Centered above that is a small round window containing a Star of David. The top edge of the bay is closed by a horizontal round-headed arch cornice.
The rear of the building is rather simple. A rectangular extension of the interior main sanctuary space protrudes. At its center, a small polygonal structure, indicating the ark in the interior, is located. The polygonal shape is repeated by two small infills on the corner where the main sanctuary space ends; the effect is similar to that of Lady Chapels. On either corner of the rear, a slight staircase gives access to the interior via a small room.
The interior is divided into three distinct areas: entryway, main hall and the bimah with the ark. The small entry hall rises three steps to the main hall. An elaborate commercial tile pattern decorates the central area of the entrance hall. The main hall is a large wooden, barrel-vaulted space, whose form is repeated in plaster above the bimah. Access is through a single large round-headed door. The space is distinguished by two side galleries, supported on cast-iron columns. A third gallery opens at the rear, above the entry hall and is slightly higher than the side galleries. Access to all three galleries is through the towers.
The barrel vault, of wood, is painted. A checkerboard framework of solid lines divides the ceiling into nine pieces. The horizontal divisions are simple lines, the vertical divisions are slightly more elaborate; placed within the solid color line is a decorative pattern: Stars of David separated by three hexagons with stylized six-petaled flowers. The open spaces of the ceiling are decorated with small gold and blue Stars of David. The four columns which support the side galleries are simple cast iron, with cushion capitals, containing on each face a fleur-de-lis within a circle. Vegetal light fixtures continue the vertical line of the columns into the galleries. The galleries are fronted by a decorative wood pattern: a repetition of two rectangles, into which are inserted a small round arch which, in turn, frames a rosette arch. Two small wooden stripes are aligned with the curves in the arch. This pattern repeats across the entire length of the balconies.
One step up is the bimah; another step up is the torah ark. It is of a small, gabled design framing an arch supported on two elaborate banded columns. The gable is broken by a smaller gable containing the tablets of the law. The view of the Torah ark corresponds to the view of the western facade.
Karač Z., “Arhitektura sinagoga u Hrvatskoj u doba historicizma,” in V. Maleković (ed.), Historicizam u Hrvatskoj (Zagreb, 2000), pp. 167-185, 523-533.
Klein R., “Sinagoga u Osijeku,” in Secesija u Hrvatskoj: Program i sažeci znanstvenog skupa (Osijek, 1997).
Klein R., “Sinagogalna arhitektura na tlu Hrvatske u kontekstu Austro-Ungarske Monarhije,” in Dva stoljeća povijesti i kulture Židova u Zagrebu i Hrvatskoj (Zagreb, 1998);
Rudolf Klein, Zsinagógák Magyarországon, 1782–1918: Fejlődéstörténet, tipológia és jelentőség / Synagogues in Hungary, 1782–1918: Genealogy, Typology and Architectural Significance (Budapest: TERC, 2011), p. 298.
Zlatko Karač, Studije o arhitekturi sinagoga u Hrvatskoj: Odabrani tekstovi (Zagreb: UPI 2 M Books, 2020), 101, 11-112, 155-156.