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The synagogue is built in Moorish Revival Style. Only a little park with a modern statue of famous Prague writer Franz Kafka (by Jaroslav Róna) lies between it and the church of Holy Spirit. Today, the Spanish Synagogue is administered by the Jewish Museum in Prague. Interior of the Synagogue
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- Vezenska 141/1, Prague, 110 00, Bohemia
The Spanish Synagogue is the most recent synagogue in the Prague Jewish Town. Built in 1868 for the local Reform congregation on the site of the 12th-century Altschul, which was the oldest synagogue in the Prague ghetto. It was called the Spanish Synagogue for its impressive Moorish interior design, influenced by the famous Alhambra.
Spanish Synagogue The neo-Renaissance building of the Spanish Synagogue is one of the most important historical sights of Prague’s Jewish Town. It was completed in 1868 according to the design by Ignác Ullmann and Josef Niklas at the crossroads of Dušní Street and Vězeňská Street, a few metres from the Old Town Square.
The Spanish Synagogue operates as part of the Jewish Museum in Prague, so two permanent exhibitions, which focus on the history of Jews in Bohemian lands and showcase silver artifacts, are also on...
Spanish Synagogue in Prague is one of the most beautiful synagogues in Europe. The synagogue got its name from the Moorish style, in which it was in 1868 built on the site of the original synagogue – so called Altschul - from the 12th century.
- The Maisel Synagogue
- The Spanish Synagogue
- The Pinkas Synagogue
- The Old Jewish Cemetery
- The Ceremonial Hall
- The Klausen Synagogue
- The Old-New Synagogue
- Visiting The Synagogues of Prague
- Visiting The Jewish Museum in Prague
Originally built in 1592, rebuilt in 1689 after a fire, and renovated in 1893-1905, the Maisel Synagogue is devoted to Jewish history in Bohemia and Moravia up to the 1780s. This is the most “museum-like” synagogue of Prague, in that it displays historical objects but also allows visitors to explore documents through touchscreens.
The Spanish synagogue is by far the most ornate of the Prague synagogues, and it’s also the newest. Built in 1868, the interior is done in a “Moorish” style. Display cases around the ground floor and upstairs in what was once the women’s section tell the story of the Jews in Moravia and Bohemiafrom the 1780s on. It is a history of increasing civil rights and increasing assimilation, and of prominent members of the community like Sigmund Freud and Franz Kafka. The story ends with the Terezin ghetto, the Holocaust, and, briefly, Jewish history since 1945. Upstairs is an exhibit of silver from synagogues in Prague and the rest of Bohemia and Moravia. Note: The Spanish Synagogue is, unfortunately, closed until the end of 2020. Do check out the exterior; it’s beautiful too! Also explained here is the history of the Prague Jewish Museum itself. Many of the objects in the museum’s collection came from synagogues that the government tore down at the turn of the 20th century. Urban renewal a...
The Pinkas synagogue, dating from 1535, was made into a Holocaust memorial in the 1950s. The Soviet invasion in 1968 closed it down, but with the fall of the Soviet Union, and after a renovation, it was reopened in 1995. I found this to be a very moving memorial. Not much is left of the original synagogue besides the building itself, the bima(the raised section in the middle where the torah was read), and the torah ark. Instead, the walls are covered with names: almost 80,000 names of the Bohemian and Moravian Jews who died in the Holocaust. So many names, covering all of the walls. It gave me an overwhelming understanding of the sheer number who were killed. And if 80,000 is this many, how can you ever understand 6 million? Upstairs, I couldn’t help but cry. There, in cases, hung dozens of pictures drawn by children at Terezin ghetto, where most of the Jews from this area were imprisoned before deportation. The community tried to maintain a sense of normalcy at Terezin, for the chi...
Next to the Pinkas Synagogue is the Old Jewish Cemetery. The people buried here are not victims of the Holocaust, who have no graves. This cemetery is far older, used by the Jewish community from 1439 to 1787. Because the city would not allow the Jews to expand the cemetery, they had to improvise. To deal with their cemetery’s overcrowding, the Jews of Prague simply buried their dead on top of earlier graves. They would remove the gravestones, add a layer of dirt, and place both the old and the new stone on top. This continued for centuries. For this reason, the graveyard is higher than the surrounding streets, and the 12,000 gravestones crowd and lean against each other. Visitors can walk a path through the cemetery, reading the stones (mostly in Hebrew). Many have decorative details; others, just words.
This neo-Romanesque building (1906) was home to the Prague Jewish community’s burial society. Their meeting room was upstairs, while downstairs was where the traditional washing of the dead took place. Paintings from the 1700s show the steps of the ritual. If the rituals around the Jewish tradition of preparing and washing their dead interest you, you can learn about them in detail in the Ceremonial Hall. It was certainly more than I wanted to know!
This synagogue was one of the most important and largest of the Prague synagogues. Today, as part of the Prague Jewish Museum, it houses an exhibit on Jewish traditions. I just skimmed the displays, since most of the objects were familiar to me, but it would be useful for anyone who doesn’t know the basics of Jewish rituals and beliefs. As I was wandering through this synagogue, a man nearby, clearly an Orthodox Jew, judging from his clothing, began to sing. It was Hebrew so I don’t know if it was a standard prayer, or a song of mourning, or what. He sang softly, to himself, and I think he wasn’t aware that anyone was listening. I found the sad notes of the song charming, and wonderfully appropriate to the bittersweet feeling of this museum.
The only active synagogue remaining in what used to be the Jewish ghetto, the Old-New Synagogue is also the oldest, dating from the 13thcentury. It was always the most important, even after the addition of other synagogues in Prague. Looking like it would have in the Middle Ages, with a bima in the center, this building has the most atmosphere of all of the synagogues. Perhaps this has to do with the medieval architecture: vaulted stone ceilings and gothic arches. Or perhaps it’s the fact that it’s still in active use. The male congregants, traditionally, sat or stood along the walls. The female members were in an adjacent room, listening through an opening in the wall.
A clever solution to the question of how to present a Jewish museum, the decision to use the remaining synagogues to house the collection was brilliant. Each building is, in effect, a different wing of the museum. Except for the Old-New Synagogue, they’re not active synagogues anymore, and it would be a shame to convert them to some unrelated use. I would certainly recommend visiting the synagogues in Prague, as well as the Old Jewish Cemetery. If you don’t have time for them all, see the Old-New Synagogue because it’s so old and atmospheric. See the Spanish Synagogue because it’s beautiful. If you don’t know much about Judaism, go to the Klausen Synagogue. And in any case stroll around the cemetery, just because it’s so unusual.
Tickets: You can buy tickets at the Information and Reservation Centre (Maiselova 38/15), the Spanish Synagogue (Vězeňská 1), the Klausen Synagogue (U Starého hřbitova 3a) or the Pinkas Synagogue (Široká 3). The price to see all locations (except for the Spanish Synagogue, which is closed until the end of 2020) is CZK500 (about €20 or $22), less if you choose not to see them all. Hours: The Jewish Museum in Prague is open daily except Saturdays and Jewish holidays: November-March 9:00-16:30; April-October 9:00-18:00. The Old-New Synagogue is open daily except Saturdays and Jewish holidays: November-March 9:00-17:00; April-October 9:00-18:00. On Fridays it closes an hour before Sabbath. Have you visited Prague and seen the Prague synagogues? What did you think? If you enjoyed this article, please share it! The image below is pinterest-ready!
- The Two Fortresses
- How to Get to Terezín
- Is It Worth Visiting?
Terezín is divided in two parts: the big and small fortresses. The first was used as a Jewish ghetto where over 150,000 Jews lived, and the second was a concentration camp. Keep in mind that Theresienstadt was a concentration camp, not an extermination camp. The Terezín Memorial is currently open to visitors, who can explore the camp.In the camp, visitors will be able to explore the barracks, the courtyards, the cells and other rooms. There is also a tunnel, which is very claustrophobic, that...
There are several options to get to Terezín Memorial: hire a car, book a guided tour or take the bus and visit the memorial by yourself (without a guide).The bus leaves from Holesovice station and takes about one hour to get to Terezín Memorial. On the way back to Prague, the bus stop is located in the central park of the Big fortress, and will leave you in Prague in a different train station. Here, you will be able to take the metro to your hotel or wherever you need to go.
Visiting Terezín Memorial will prove extremely emotional. You will get a real sense of the atrocities committed during World War II in the commemoration of the thousands of victims of the Nazis. Visitors have to keep in mind that Terezín Memorial relates the holocaust as it truly happened, with details and facts and figures. Therefore, it is up to each person to decide if this is something he or she wants to see.The whole visit will take you approximately 4 hours.Official website: 1. Terezín...
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