02 Jan The Altneuschul (Old-New Synagogue):
Prague, Czech Republic
The Old – New Synagogue is situated in Josefov, the former Prague Jewish Town in Prague is one of the most valuable Jewish historical buildings in Europe. It is the oldest Jewish site in Prague and probably the oldest European synagogue still serving its purpose and one of the oldest ones in the world. It was built as the main synagogue in the 13 th century and services are held there continually since it was built, with an exception of the years of Nazi occupation in 1942 – 1945.The synagogue was originally called the New or Great Shul, it was not until the establishment of other synagogues in the late 16th century that it came to be known as the Old-New (Altneuschul). There are regular services held in the Old – New Synagogue nowadays, as well as Jewish weddings and other religious ceremonies.
Women were permitted to enter the Old – New Synagogue only on their wedding day. Later three low annexes were added to serve as a vestibule and women’s sections. The interior of the synagogue has all the regular parts. The bimah (raised platform) in the center, the aron ha-kodesh (holy ark) where the Torah is kept. The original seating arrangement has been retained around the perimeter of the main hall which was the typical layout of Synagogues at that time.The main room is lit by numerous bronze chandeliers, dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The interior decoration of the Old-New Synagogue is complemented by a high banner, a historical flag of the Prague Jewish community above with a symbol of the Jewish ghetto. It is probably from 1716.
The Old-New Synagogue was always the main synagogue of Prague’s Jewish community. There were many holy Rabbis that were active in the Altneu Shul most notably the Maharal, Rabbi Loew. He was especially well known in connection to the legend of the Prague Golem. The Golem was a monster made of clay created by Rabbi Loew in the 16 th century. He was created to defend Jews and help them in bad times. The Golem looked and acted like a human being. The Golem later became aggressive and violent and had to be stopped and Rabbi Loew made him “dead” again. According to the legend, there are still remains of the Golem kept in the Old – New Synagogue attic as a protection for the Prague community.
Posted: January 2, 2017
Information, prices and hours posted here are current as of the posted or updated date. It is advisable to call ahead or check online to confirm hours and prices.
Adults : CZK 200
Children under 6: free
Children aged 6-15 and students:CZK 140
Family (2 adults + up to 4 children) CZK 200 for adults, CZK 100 per child
Sunday – Thursday – High season 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Low season: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday :Closes an hour before Shabbat
Saturdays and Jewish holidays : closed