The Great Synagogue of Hrodna was built from 1576 to 1580 by Santi Gucci, who designed a Wooden synagogue at Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe's invitation. In 1887, the Hrodna Jews owned 88% of the commercial enterprises, 76% of the factories and workshops, and over 65% of the real estate in the city. Their property was estimated at 842,000 roubles at a time when the total sum of the city's properties was 1,202,000 roubles. In 1898, one of the first savings and loan cooperatives in Russia was founded in Grodno.
The synagogue burned down in 1902. Under the supervision of Iya Frunkin, the Jewish community built another synagogue in the eclectic and moorish style from 1902 to 1905. By 1907, the city boasted a state Jewish school, a girls' school, a craft shelter, a Talmud-Yeshiva, 107 Jewish primary schools, and 5 elementary schools for girls. This was unique in Russia.
There were also two Jewish libraries and several Jewish charitable organizations working in the city.
Jews played a very significant role in city life as industrialists, merchants, craftsmen, owners of printing houses, doctors, and teachers. There was said to be a special 'Hrodna Aura,' created by its cultured and intelligent population. For this reason Grodno was considered to be one of the Jewish intellectual capitals of Europe.
The interior of the synagogue was vandalized in 1941 by Nazis. Soviet authorities closed the synagogue in 1944. The synagogue was returned to the Jewish community in 1991; however, it remains in disrepair.References:
Bamberg is located in Upper Franconia on the river Regnitz close to its confluence with the river Main. Its historic city center is a listed UNESCO world heritage site.
Bamberg is a good example of a central European town with a basically early medieval plan and many surviving ecclesiastical and secular buildings of the medieval period. When Henry II, Duke of Bavaria, became King of Germany in 1007 he made Bamberg the seat of a bishopric, intended to become a 'second Rome'. Of particular interest is the way in which the present town illustrates the link between agriculture (market gardens and vineyards) and the urban distribution centre.
From the 10th century onwards, Bamberg became an important link with the Slav peoples, especially those of Poland and Pomerania. During its period of greatest prosperity, from the 12th century onwards, the architecture of this town strongly influenced northern Germany and Hungary. In the late 18th century Bamberg was the centre of the Enlightenment in southern Germany, with eminent philosophers and writers such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and E.T.A. Hoffmann living there.
Bamberg extends over seven hills, each crowned by a beautiful church. This has led to Bamberg being called the 'Franconian Rome'.