Staronová synagoga

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Staronová synagoga review Rate it

The oldest survivor of the ghetto and the spiritual centre of the Jewish community for over 700 years, the Old-New Synagogue is a rather forlorn piece of medievalism that's now been returned to the community and is still used for services. Despite its wealth of historical and religious significance, there's not much to see once you're inside, and little explanation is provided. But the story behind it is an interesting one.

The synagogue's austere exterior walls give no clues to its peculiar Gothic interior. An extra rib was added to the usual vaulting pattern to avoid the symbolism of the cross, and the decor and structure revolve around the number 12, after the 12 tribes of Israel: there are 12 windows, 12 bunches of sculpted grapes, and clusters of 12 vine leaves decorate the pillar bases.

The interior was left untouched for 500 years as a reminder of the blood spilled here during the pogrom of 1389, when the men, women and children who sought sanctuary in the synagogue were slaughtered. However, 19th-century neo-Gothic enthusiasts couldn't resist the temptation to 'restore' the original look of the building and slapped a fresh coat of paint over the top.

Oak seats line the walls facing the bema, or platform, protected by a Gothic grille; with the exception of the Nazi occupation, the Torah has been read aloud every day here for more than 700 years. The tall seat marked by a gold star belonged to Rabbi Löw, the most famous inhabitant of the ghetto. The rabbi lived to the age of 97, and a sculpture by Ladislav Šaloun to the right of the New Town Hall in Mariánské náměstí depicts the manner of his death. Unable to approach the scholar, who was always absorbed in study of the scriptures, Death hid in a rose that was offered to Löw by his innocent granddaughter.

The rabbi's grave can be found in the Old Jewish Cemetery, recognisable by the quantity of pebbles and wishes on scraps of paper that are placed on his tomb even today.

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Staronová synagoga details

Address
Červená 2,
Prague 1

Area Prague

Transport Metro Staroměstská/tram 17, 18.

Telephone (no phone)

Open Apr-Oct 9am-6pm Mon-Thur, Sun; 9.30am-5pm Fri. Nov-Mar 9am-5.30pm Mon-Thur, Sun; 9am-2pm Fri.

Admission 200 K±; 140 K± reductions; free under-6s.