After these various and lovely churches, it seems time to turn to the synagogues of Prague. A visit to the Jewish Quarter is in order.
As everywhere in the historical center of Prague, the streets are charming.
But there is a bit of a twist–Jewish themes appear here and there in the building adornment.
Here, the ladies gracing the entryway are modestly attired, and they’re wearing hats, in stark contrast to the nudes and near-nudes elsewhere in the city. Also, look closely at this detail. Is that a pile of *coins* by the Star of David?
And of course, inevitably, some of the retail establishments also take advantage of their location. Here we have (in translation) the “Restaurant at the Old Synagogue.” It’s quite pretty, actually.
The Jewish community, though located in and associated with Prague, had its own government. The town hall has a clock tower–of course–and also an additional clock with Hebrew letters that runs–you guessed it–counterclockwise.
The Old New Synagogue was built in 1270. And yes, there was an Old Synagogue, but it was demolished in the nineteenth century. I was unable to determine which, if any, of the other synagogues might be the *New* New Synagogue.
The Spanish Synagogue, built in 1868, did not house a Spanish or Sefardic congregation, but the name refers to the Moorish style of architecture, as ornate on the inside as on the outside.
The Maisel Synagogue, built in 1590, was named after the mayor of the Jewish town, Mordechai Maisel, who funded its construction. Damaged by fire, it was completely rebuilt (preserving only the floor plan) at the end of the nineteenth century.
Originally built in 1535, after the second world war the Pinkas synagogue was turned into a memorial for the eighty thousand Jews of Moravia and Bohemia (parts of the Czech Republic) who were murdered by the Nazis. Its walls are covered with their names. So many, so many…
Appropriately, from this synagogue visitors can walk through the Jewish Cemetery (see the next post), coming out near the Ceremonial Hall (belonging to the Burial Society).
The Klausen Synagogue, the largest in the ghetto, now contains a permanent exhibition of Jewish traditions and customs.
Like Dan, you don’t have to be Jewish to be fascinated by the richness of this quarter. And like him, you don’t even have to like museums very much to be interested in the exhibits and the buildings. All these locations, as well as the Jewish Cemetery shown in the next post, may be visited with a single ticket purchased from the Jewish Museum of Prague, which is doing a wonderful job of preserving Prague’s Jewish heritage.