Old New Synagogue (Staronová synagoga)
One of the oldest and most valuable European and world Jewish monuments, and the oldest synagogue in Central Europe. The early Gothic building dates from the end of the 13th century with rich stonework and antique furnishings (wrought iron Gothic grille and chandeliers). It is today the main synagogue of the Jewish community in Prague.
- November – March
- Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun
- 09.00 – 17.00
- April – October
- Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun
- 09.00 – 18.00
- Fridays – closes an hour before Shabbat
- Saturdays and Jewish holidays – closed
- basic 200 CZK
- reduced 140 CZK
It is one of the oldest and most valuable European and World-wide Jewish monuments, the oldest synagogue in central Europe that has been used for divine services continuously since the last quarter of the 13th century, with the only exception of the occupation years 1942 - 1945. It is one of the oldest Gothic monuments in our territory. It is an early-Gothic rectangular massive construction made of stone in the 1270s with high saddle roof with late-Gothic brick gables. It is enlaced from three sides by younger low annex buildings, which are used as a lobby and as a gallery for women. The two-aisle interior, arched via ribbed vaults into two pillars in the middle, gives an impression of an extensive space. In the middle of the Eastern wall, there is a box for the Torah scrolls. In the middle of the synagogue, there is a space for the speaker, enclosed by an iron Gothic grille, with a historical banner of the Prague Jewish Community above, with the emblem of the ghetto (Star of David with a Jewish hat inside).
Legend says that the ancestors of the Prague Jews built the Old New Synagogue as long as two thousand years ago, after the destruction of the so called Second Temple in Jerusalem (which happened in the year 70 A.D.) Hewn blocks from the shattered Jerusalem sanctuary were brought to Prague by heavenly angels, who built a beautiful chapel here. When the Messiah comes to gather the children of Israel, the angels will bring the blocks back to Jerusalem to build a new Jerusalem sanctuary, the third already.
The name Old New probably documents the fact that at the time it was built, when it was named New, the aim was to distinguish it from an older, non-preserved synagogue in Dušní Street. When more synagogues were built, the name was outlived already, but the older synagogue was still standing, and therefore probably the name Old New. In any case, it was the main religious centre of the Prague Jewish Community. This was also due to its two most significant rabbis: Jehud Löwa ben Bezalel (1512 - 1609), according to the legend the creator of the famous Golem, whose seat in the Old New Synagogue, to the right from the altar, has remained empty in token of esteem ever since his death. The second rabbi, even more popular in the world, was the famous scholar and master-rabbi Jecheskel Landau, called Noda bi Jehuda (1713 - 1793).
The reconstruction of the synagogue took place in 1967 under a strict supervision of the conservationists. There was another reconstruction in progress from November 1998 until March 1999. Constructional works were accompanied by a thorough archaeological research, which proved with great probability Jewish settlement in the surroundings as early as in the 11th century.
The synagogue is administered by the Prague Jewish Community. Regular services are held here, as well as other religious ceremonies, which belong to the significant boundaries of the Jewish community members - Bar mitzvah (accepting thirteen-year-old boys among men), etc.
The Old New Synagogue has been a National Cultural Monument since 1995.