Ismertető szöveg: The first Jewish families of Pápa have been settling down in the 17th century; the landlord of the town, Count Ferenc Esterházy issued his declaration of palladium in 1748; in the next year Jewish Community was formed in Pápa. Religious tolerance of the town was a leading idea during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century.
This impressive and puritan building (its height is more than 19 metres, its inner area is around 400 square metres, divided into three aisles by two paralel rows of columns, involving two storeys of galleries having separate entrances on the southern front) located in a rather one-storey, though vivid environment (the Protestant secondary school where Petőfi, Jókai and many more great Hungarians of the 19th century were educated, is in the same street) was built between 1844 and 1846 in Classicist architectural style. Count Pál Esterházy donated construction with 100.000 bricks. According to the 1870 census, 25 % of the population of the town was of Jewish origin - this synagogue served as the main religious centre for them. Before WWII the Pápa Jewish community was considered to be the third largest in the Hungarian countryside. A hospital - the oldest in the town - and schools were also run by the community.
On 1st of June 1944 Pápa ghetto was formed in the neighbouring area, more than 2.500 Jewish people have been collected together from Pápa and the surrounding villages, and they were transported to Auschwitz between 30th June and 3rd July of the same year. Nazi troops used the synagogue as a horse stable, the wooden furniture was burnt as firewood by them. In 1945 only a few dozens of survivors returned to the town (other sources mention 500 people), and though the synagogue has been used for religious purposes for a short while, it ceased to be an active place of worship by the middle of the 1950s. The adjacent house (not displayed here) is used nowadays as a huse of prayer by the small Jewish community of Pápa. The old synagogue seems to be an astonishing urban abandonment which is emphasized even more by its puritan outlook - some details, yet very decayed, are certainly messengers of a much more flowering age.
What can be seen today is terribly sad: out of the five original entrances all are either blocked off by concrete wall or closed off by iron shafts (see this or this), the one-time main entrance on the western side is also blocked by a growing tree, an iconic emblem of the devastated, though the north entrance for Petőfi street and some remains of ornaments still preserve some dignity of a disappeared past, going back for more than 160 years.
There are different plans for utilizing the synagogue according to its one-time function; either as a religious place again, either for cultural purposes, or as a Jewish memorial site. Occasionally it is used for public classical concerts in these days, since - as it is told, I never heard it - it has outstanding acoustics.