The Old New Synagogue (Staronová synagoga) situated in Josefov, Prague, is Europe's oldest active synagogue. It is also the oldest surviving medieval synagogue of twin-nave design. Completed in 1270 in gothic style, it was one of Prague's first gothic buildings.

An unusual feature found in the nave of this synagogue is a large red flag near the west pillar. In the centre of the flag is a Star of David and in the centre of the star is a hat in the style typically worn by Jews of the 15th century. Both the hat and star are stitched in gold. Also stitched in gold is the text of Shema Yisrael. Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor awarded the Jewish community their own banner in recognition for their services in the defence of Prague during the Thirty Years War. The banner now on display is a modern reproduction.

It is said that the body of Golem (created by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel) lies in the attic where the genizah of Prague's community is kept. A legend is told of a Nazi agent during World War II broaching the genizah, but who perished instead. In the event, the Gestapo apparently did not enter the attic during the war, and the building was spared during the Nazis' destruction of synagogues. The lowest three meters of the stairs leading to the attic from the outside have been removed and the attic is not open to the general public.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 1270
Category: Religious sites in Czech Republic

Rating

4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Miki Jankovic (19 months ago)
One of the oldest and still used synagogue in Europe. Very interesting!
Zev Hershkowitz (19 months ago)
The holy shul where the maharal davened. You can see and feel the history in every corner. It is from the few shuls in Europe that is still standing in its original form. They charge money to enter the building, but it's worth every penny.
Vangelis Koulogeorgiou (19 months ago)
It's good if you go there with a free tour guide and learn the history of the region. If you want to see inside and the cemetery you have to pay (500 per person I think) and the market all around is a bit expensive
Lydia Vallee (20 months ago)
Didnt give as much history as I was expecting. There were some good things but this is something I would choose to do on the last day in Prague. Also everything in this area is outrageously overpriced. Got ripped off at a jewelry store. Be careful.
Pedro Sarreta Alvarez (20 months ago)
Really expensive for just a room! Better to pay for other synagogues. Still really cool though.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.