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Rétközi Museum - Kisvárda
The museum building
Address: 4600, Kisvárda Csillag u. 5.
Phone number: (45) 405-154, (70) 342-0774
Opening hours: 01.04-15.10.: Tue-Sat 8:30-16:30, Sun 8:30-14:30
In the 14th and 15th centuries, Kisvárda was the property of the Várdai family, several of whose members held high religious and secular office. The town lay at the junction of roads linking Munkács, Beregszász, and Szatmár, by way of the Tisza bend, with Királyhelmec, Kassa, and the towns and mining centers of the Szepesség. These transportation links explain why Kisvárda served as an important commercial center.

It was the Esterházy family that gave permission to Jews to settle in the town. Sources indicate that in 1747 one solitary Jew lived in Kisvárda. By 1784-85, the community counted some 118 members, a not inconsiderable number by the standards of the times. (In 1851, Jews accounted for around 22.5 percent of the population, and in 1910, for 30.2 percent.) The Jewish religious community, formally constituted in 1796, had its first synagogue built in 1801. The precise location of this synagogue is not known; what is clear is that the Jewish residents clustered around the then Serház utca, the Posta utca, and the Szent László utca. It may be assumed that their religious activities were also conducted in this district, perhaps on the site of the present synagogue.

It was its growing and affluence in the years before 1900 that probably inspired the community to have a new synagogue constructed. In 1899, the publication Kisvárdai Lapok reported: "The architect Ferenc Grósz, a native of our county, has proposed a design for the stock exchange building in Budapest, the same architect who drafted the plan for the new temple that our town's israelite religious community proposes to have built." Bids were called for construction of this temple, and by April 1901 the newspaper was reporting on the work in progress. The inauguration of the new synagogue in the Csillag utca took place probably in 1901 or 1902. With its romantic facade and imposing proportions, the synagogue testified to the size and importance of the Jewish community. It looms high over the neighboring buildings, and its design reflects the influence of synagogues in nearby towns. An arched roof caps the building's rather romantic, multi-arched main ledge. The synagogue's ground plan follows the traditional (Orthodox) pattern. A lateral staircase leads up to the women's gallery. The gallery, suppported by cast iron columns, runs along three sides of the main hall.

When the building underwent conversion, the Torah cabinet was dismantled and the alcove walled in. (The restored cabinet was reinstalled in the prayer-hall that shared a courtyard with the synagogue.) The facade was restored in keeping with the original design, but the religious symbols are no longer there. The inner space was adapted to serve cultural purposes, notably as an exhibition hall. Since 1983, it houses a museum.
Permanent exhibitions
The visitors to the Kisvárda Rétközi Museum in a real fairy tale world. The ethnographic exhibition the title of which is "Round the bottom of my skirt ..." is held in an old village and enchant them with its beauty. continue
Kisvárdai museum first - and so far the biggest - collections is the archaeology collection. Significant part of the findings presented are from the castle of Kisvárda. As our city's and wider region's determining the oldest monument, the castle of Kisvárda with its history was an influencing factor in shaping local patriotism continue
A taste of the exhibition
It is the last relic of the smith workshop of the village. Tools of smith masters of Fékesháza are shown there. The furnishing of the workshop was supervised by the master himself. It could be still operated nowadays. continue
A taste of the exhibition
The exhibition presents textile from Rétköy, articles made of textile that are just as excellent as the textile made in Bereg. continue