The Jewish Synagogue
One of the historic landmarks located in Prague’s Josefov quarter, the Old-New Synagogue is one of the earliest examples of Gothic architecture and is the oldest active synagogue in Europe. Many visitors to the city choose holiday apartments in Prague to stay within easy reach of this remarkable Gothic building, completed in 1270. The synagogue was originally referred to as the New or Great Shul, as there was an even older synagogue that remained in Josefov until it was demolished in 1867. It became known as the Old-New Synagogue as other houses of worship were erected throughout the 16th century.
The synagogue has been an active worship centre for Prague’s Jewish community since its completion nearly 750 years ago. The only time services were not held there was during the Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1945. Regular services and Jewish ceremonies are still held at the Old-New Synagogue today.
Because the Old-New Synagogue is still an active place of worship, it is not affiliated with Josefov’s Jewish Museum and does not contain any formal exhibits. Still, for travellers who book a holiday rental, Prague offers a chance to appreciate the stunning Gothic architecture. There is a central prayer hall for men surrounded by a women’s gallery. The synagogue is the oldest surviving example of this type of twin-nave feature popular during the medieval period. Above the traditional bimah, or reading podium, hangs the remnant of a red banner given to the congregation by Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III in 1648, as a gift to commemorate the Jews’ role in turning back invading Swedish forces at the end of the Thirty Years’ War.
For those visitors located in the Josefov district in a Prague holiday apartment, will find easy access to the Old-New Synagogue using the metro Line A stopping at Staromestska. The synagogue is open for tours from 9:30am to 4:30pm every Sunday through Thursday and from 9am to 2pm on Fridays from January to March only. From April to October the opening times are from 9:30am to 6pm every Sunday, and 9:30am to 5pm Sunday through Thursday. The synagogue is closed to the public on Saturdays in observance of the Jewish Sabbath. Tour admission is £6 for adults, £4 for students, and children under six are free. Men must wear a head covering inside the synagogue, and paper hats are provided if necessary.
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