Užupis Synagogue


Today Užupis district in Vilnius attracts locals and tourists with its free artsy spirit. Paradoxically, in the middle of the 19th century, it was a place, where one of the most disciplined Jewish religious movements – the Musar movement – was born and developed. During that period Rabbi Israel Salanter (1810-1883) settled in Užupis (called Zarech back then) and formulated basic ideas of Musar ideology. Stories of Musar movement, the life of Israel Salanter, and extravagant Zarech district are interlinked together through the still-standing building of Užupis synagogue. For a few years, this synagogue was a shelter, a home and a working place to Israel Salanter and his yeshiva students.

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This synagogue was not the first one to stand in this exact place – another Jewish prayer house stood here, but was destroyed by the flood of Vilnelė river. This new mural one-floor synagogue has been built in 1841, but after fifty years the building was reconstructed regarding the needs of growing local Jewish community.  Additional women’s section was built in the north of the synagogue and the windows of the main prayer hall had been widened. The local community took care of their synagogue – already in 1915, the building was lit by the electricity – a privilege most of the Zarech`s inhabitants only dreamt of. The synagogue was the main place where Užupis Jewish community gathered. It stood next to the main road, which led to the new Jewish cemetery, so it was common for funeral processions to stop by the synagogue. Nonetheless, this synagogue became the most famous outside its local community for the Musar ideas of Israel Salanter, who worked in the synagogue in the 1840s.


During the Nazi occupation in 1941-1944 the synagogue in Užupis was ravaged, and after that came Soviet occupation during which this desolated prayer house was remodeled into living apartments. When Lithuania regained independence, it took almost 16 years, that someone would notice this Jewish heritage object and do something about it – in 2006 the building was reconstructed. At this moment You can find the empty reconstructed building on Užupio str. 36, it is not being used for any purpose at the moment.


Jewish street, 54.679532, 25.285090

The place of the Great Synagogue and shulhof (jid. shulhoyf) (Žydų g. 3), 54.679901, 25.284511

The mausoleum of Vilna Gaon and his family (Jewish cemetery, Sudervė road, 28), 54.712898, 25.234477

A sculpture of Vilna Gaon (Žydų g. 3), 54.680137, 25.285079

Choral synagogue Taharat ha–Kodesh (Pylimo g. 39), 54.676070, 25.281575

Užupis synagogue (Užupio g. 36), 54.681471, 25.298633

A sculpture of doctor Cemachas Šabadas  (sculpt. Romualdas Kvintas), 54.677248, 25.284342

Pohulanka (now. J. Basanavičius street), 54.680145, 25.276134

The place of old Jewish cemetery in Šnipiškės (Olimpiečių g. 1a), 54.690243, 25.291117

Jewish cemetery in Užupis (Olandų g. 22), 54.688106, 25.307748

The printing house of widow Rom and Rom brothers (A. Strazdelio g. 3), 54.675534, 25.292128

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