Photo: Ryter.

Although the early Jewish community began with a prayer house, Zychlin’s first wooden synagogue (on Zdrojowa Street) was built in 1780’s following a special permit by the archbishop of Gneizno. (Olszewski 2013, Ryter unknown date). The architectural style was typically multi-tiered roofing in character in the 18th century time frame. Wood was accessible in the early days however prone to destruction by fire. Records indicate this synagogue supported about 311 Jews in Zychlin (1765 data). 

This wooden synagogue was built after about 1780 and appears to have lasted a century with a rebuild/renovation about 1850. 

In the 1840’s the community was also able to build a Mikvah and house for the Rabbi and prayer room however administrative hitches and the onslaught of the 1852 cholera epidemic which killed key personnel involved, prevented the final construction of a brick synagogue until approximately 1876 when the community resurrected the plans. The building plans were to be implemented in 1880—resulting in a rectangular brick structure in the Rundbogenstil architectural style located not far from the old wooden synagogue.

For an outstanding detailed history of synagogue construction see Michal Ryter “History and Construction of the Zychlin Synagogue.” 


Picture of the synagogue is believed to be around 1900 (note roof line and fencing). A gabled roof covered the entire building, and the walls were lined with large arched windows. Inside the synagogue, there was a square prayer room in the eastern side of the building and a small vestibule in the western section. The main hall included a gallery for women, supported by cast iron Corinthian columns. Colourful paintings covered some of the walls.

The picture below appeared in however it is not believed to be an accurate representation of the interior and may have been photoshopped!! It shows beautiful colours of the synagogue interior and stained glass windows and artistic designs on the ceiling with Hebrew words overlain on the dilapidated ceiling roof slats open to the sky under the watchful eye of a Hassidic observer. It is undated and source unknown (source presently being investigated).  

The interior was described as follows: “Inside, a gallery has survived, running around the main hall on three sides, supported by cast-iron fluted Corinthian columns, with a high wooden balustrade filled with rows of panels with painted decorations. On the eastern wall, near the recess for the Aron Kodesh, the remains of wall paintings have survived.” (Ryter). 

During World War II, the Germans turned the synagogue into a warehouse, covering all but the arched top of the windows with bricks. After the war and the decimation of the Zychlin Jewish community, the building continued to be used as a warehouse, but was not maintained. 


Before WWII, an area in the shape of “Chai” was set aside to develop the Jewish communities 3 main religious buildings. In the vicinity of the synagogue, there was a House of Study which had a prayer room made of brick. The rabbi’s house was made of wood. According to the list of the real estate of the Religious Community in Zychlin from 1928, the value of the House of Prayer was estimated at 30000 zlotys and the rabbis house at 8000 z (Fundadja Ochrony Dziedzictwa Zydowskieo w Warzawie, sygn. W.KZ-1-1436/02. (


Before WWII there was a ritual bath in Zychlin. It was located next to the synagogue most likely on the SE or NE  corner. It was a brick building with a boiler room measuring 14.4×14.4.x10meters. According to the list of real estate of the Religious Community in Zychlin from 1928, the value of the mikveh was estimated at PLN 65000 and it gave of PLN 2700 of incomer per year. (Fundadja Ochrony Dziedzictwa Zydowskieo w Warzawie, sygn. W.KZ-1-1436/02. (

Source: Zychlin Yizkor Book pg. 246 (Mikvah to the right)(Fundadja Ochrony Dziedzictwa Zydowskieo w Warzawie, sygn. W.KZ-1-1436/02. (

Sketch of Prayer House, Synagogue and Mikveh -by W. Reszelbach (Yizkor Book)



Since 2012, the synagogue building has fallen into a state of total ruins with just the outer walls barely standing and propped up by beams. In a 2014 trip to Zychlin, Marysia Galbraith approached FODZ to renovate the building however at that time there were no funds available. Marysia noted the condition of the building in her blog:

As ADJCP Founding Member Maryia Galbraith described in her November 1, 2014 Uncovering Jewish Heritage blog post:

No Entry, Threat of Collapse

“Until recently, the wooden babiniec (2nd floor where women sat) was still held up by metal beams, and the wall paintings were intact in places. But only a few fragments of paint survive today, barely visible through the gaps where the windows used to be… The salvageable metal and wood were carted away…The fate of the remaining walls is uncertain.  (Uncovering Jewish Heritage, “Zychlin, part 1,”)

South and East Wall Photo Credit: Marysia Galbraith, Uncovering Jewish Heritage, “Zychlin, part 1,”

The former director of FODZ indicated that the building does not have priority in their budget and they preferred other buildings with more important historical or architectural significance. For new developments see (Projects)

The synagogue was listed in the Polish Register of Monuments in January 1986, under number 547. (Wirtualny Shtetl,

According to The Society of Friends of the Kutno Region (Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Ziemi Kutnowskiej), the synagogue is the property of the Jewish community. (  However, local historian Henryk Olszewski believes ownership of the synagogue was transferred to the local government following the collapse of the roof.  He shared with Marysia Galbraith that the local government doesn’t have funding to do anything with the structure, which cannot be torn down given its historic registration.  As Marysia wrote, “for now, it seems fated to continue to deteriorate along with the homes and roads around it.”

For a more detailed review of the synagogue and environs and possible future objectives see ADJCP Projects and Partnerships 

A final commentary….“As I was photographing this former synagogue in Żychlin, I met a number of neighbors curious about what I was doing. Among the neighbors was a woman who watched me closely. Eventually she came over to me, and we talked a little despite my very rudimentary grasp of Polish. She told me her age, and then she explained through my interpreter that she remembered when the synagogue had been a place of worship used by the Jews of the town. She said that one day, on her way home from school, she looked inside. She described this action as though it required considerable courage, as no doubt it did for a young Polish child. She painted a beautiful picture of the interior; beauty that had been destroyed forever.

It was late in the day, and I was hurrying to get the photographs done, and I did not pay enough attention to the woman’s story. I operated from my American perspective that found nothing particularly unusual about going into the place of worship of a different religion; not stopping to consider how extraordinarily unusual it would have been for a Polish Catholic child to venture into a Jewish synagogue, and failing to ask about the circumstances that would have allowed the child’s visit. Only after we left Żychlin did I stop to do the math, taking the woman’s date of birth and her age when she looked inside the synagogue to understand that when she visited the synagogue, the Jews of Żychlin had already been deported to their death. The synagogue was open because the Jews were gone. And the question lodged in my mind is why neither the lady nor I saw fit to mention the fate of the Jews of Żychlin.”  …Charles Burns, (last 2 pics below)

Exterior of Zychlin Synagogue (L.Zlatkin Video 1996)

Interior of Zychlin Synagogue (L.Zlatkin Video 1996)

Exteriors of Zychlin Synagogue  (M. Galbraith 2014-2017)

Exteriors of Zychlin Synagogue  (D. Goren 2018)

Zychlin Synagogue in 2022