Great Synagogue of Vilna
Archaeologists used radar equpiement to find the ruins of the Great Synagogue of Vilna, recreated in the model aboveWiki Commons

Israeli and Lithuanian archaeologists have discovered the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna using state-of-the-art radar technology.

The synagogue, which is in Vilnius, Lithuania, was ransacked by the Nazis during the Holocaust and later razed to the ground by the Soviets during the 1950s.

Built in a Renaissance-Baroque style, Lithuanian Jews, known as "Litvaks", worshipped there until it was lost during the Holocaust. The site has been a Jewish house of prayer since 1440.

The square prayer hall held 300 people but the synagogue was designed for a place where Jews could take refuge in times of danger and on the High Holy Days 5,000 worshippers filled it.

Researchers used ground-penetrating radar to create a map of the synagogue's remains and plans are now in place to excavate the site next year before placing the ruins on display in Vilnius.

Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said: "The results of the ground penetrating radar survey showed significant remains of the synagogue below the surface, including sections of the Great Synagogue and possible remnants of the miqva'ot (ritual baths).

"Jewish built cultural heritage is seen as an important and inseparable part of Lithuanian heritage that needs to be celebrated by all and preserved for perpetuity."