Jewish community settled in Pakruojis in the second half of the 18th century. Most of the Jews living here were merchants who significantly influenced the economic life of the town at that time. Uniquely, there are still many wooden houses preserved, which have hardly changed since the interwar period. Near the bank of the Kruoja River, there is a preserved wooden synagogue, which was restored in 2017. It is the oldest wooden synagogue in Lithuania and dates back to 1801. The synagogue was built at the intersection of Baroque and Classicism. Therefore, in the forms of Pakruojis synagogue, one can see both Baroque style features and features of Lithuanian folk architecture. Pakruojos Synagogue stands out from the other synagogues in Lithuania due to its original composition of vault painting, which was captured in photographs taken in 1938. Chackel Lemchen, who photographed the interior of the synagogue, wrote: “<… > The abundance of paintings in the synagogue is striking. It is rare for a synagogue to have so many painted frescoes. There are, first of all, the traditional animals of Jewish synagogues: the stag, the lion, the tiger, and also the eagle; under the bima – a leviathan holding its tail in its mouth. But there are also extraordinary things: an elephant, birds, trees, a table with books, and a train”. By its original purpose, the synagogue served as a house of prayer until World War II, when the entire Jewish community was destroyed during the Holocaust. Before the war, there were two other synagogues in the same courtyard, which have not been preserved to this day. During the Soviet period, the synagogue was converted into a recreational club, later into a movie theatre, and even a gymnasium.
The painted vault, the aron kodesh, and the bima were dismantled and destroyed during the reconstruction in 1954. Since Lithuania regained its independence, the synagogue was waiting to be renovated. Now the renovated building of the synagogue serves as a place for cultural activities in Pakruojis. On the balcony, which used to be the women’s section of a prayer house, there is an exhibition about Jewish history in Pakruojis. During the restoration, authentic synagogue murals with nature motifs were revived, so the building itself functions as a museum.