Mordecai Maisel (1528-1601), mayor of the Jewish ghetto during the reign of Rudolf II, was one of the richest men in 16th-century Europe. Legend traces Maisel's wealth to a lucky intervention by goblins, but more realistic historians suggest that Rudolf II granted Maisel a lucrative trading monopoly. The original building on this site, funded by Maisel, was apparently the most splendid of all the quarter's synagogues until it burned down along with most of the others in 1689.
The present structure, sandwiched between apartment blocks, has a core dating to the 1690s; the rest was redone between 1892 and 1905. The synagogue houses exhibitions on the Jewish history of Bohemia and Moravia.
This museum is part of the Židovské Muzeum (Jewish Museum).