The Pilsen Great Synagogue The Pilsen Great Synagogue, built in 1893, sits in Pilsen, where a Jewish presence has existed since the 14th century. The structure was build in a Moorish-Romanesque style and is the third largest synagogue in Europe. Not long after its construction, the Czech Republish Jewish community was nearly destroyed by the Nazis and the Great Synagogue of Pilsen was used as a storage unit for property cleared out Jewish homes. On April 10, 2022, the synagogue re-opened. The reopening consisted of a procession a Torah scroll to the inside ark, words from the Culture Minister and heads of the local, Jewish community, a concert inspired by Jewish prayer, and an opening of a permanent exhibition. A bit over an hour drive from Prague, the Pilsen Great Synagogue is a great place to learn about Jewish heritage in the Czech Republic.
Jubilee Synagogue, also known as the Jerusalem Synagogue, is location on Jerusalem Street in Prague, Czech Republic. It was built in 1906, designed by Wilhelm Stiassny and named in honor of the silver Jubilee of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. The synagogue is designed in Moorish Revival form with Art Nouveau decoration, especially in the interior. It was lately renovated and still serves religious purposes. Since Czechoslovakia became independent in 1918, it has been called the Jerusalem Synagogue as the name Jubilee Synagogue referred to the anniversary of the rule of Franz Joseph I in the defeated Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The facade and form of the synagogue are a hybridized blend of Moorish Revival and Art Nouveau, with horseshoe arches on the facade and on the interior columns supporting the women's galleries in a three-bay building. The Mudéjar red-and-white coursing of the stone facade is particularly striking. Inside, the Moorish elements are overlaid with brilliantly painted Art Nouveau patterning. After a century of being open to the public as a house of worship, except for the period of Nazi German occupation when it was used to store confiscated Jewish property, on 1 April 2008 the Jubilee Synagogue began opening its doors on a regular basis to tourists and aficionados of historic architecture.
The Spanish Synagogue was built in the late 19th century, making it one of Prague’s more recent historic synagogues. This is evidenced by its lavish appearance, which is in stark contrast to the other fairly modest synagogues in Josefov. The Spanish Synagogue boasts a well-kept, beautifully detailed facade, with a Spanish Moorish style. Even the impressive exterior is incomparable to the inner section of the synagogue, with its elaborate decorations, intricately designed ceilings, beautiful arches, stained glass windows and an ornate Holy Ark. Once used as a sacred space for prayers, the synagogue today is a museum and concert hall, which is open daily to visitors. Be sure to check the museum’s website for visiting hours as they vary depending on the season.
The Jewish Ceremonial Hall (Obřadní síň in Czech) can be found in the Josefov or Jewish Quarter of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. It was built in 1911-12 under the direction of architect J. Gerstl for the Jewish Burial Society (Hevra Kadisha) and is in the neo-Romanesque style. Originally used as a ceremonial hall and mortuary it now forms part of The Jewish Museum of Prague holding exhibitions relating to Jewish history. The ticket you get from the museum covers a guided visit of the Ceremonial Hall, Old Jewish Cemetery, The Old-New Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue, the Klausen Synagogue, the Spanish Synagogue and Meisel Synagogue. Image Attribution: Official Tourism Website of Prague
Like many other structures in Prague's Jewish Quarter, the Jewish Town Hall (Židovská Radnice in Czech) was funded by Mordechai Maisel, the community leader, philanthropist and one of its richest citizens during the 16th century. The Hall was built by Panacius Roder in 1586, with a distinct Renaissance style. It was originally used as the main meeting point for the local Jewish community until it was destroyed by a fire in 1755. The building was then reconstructed by Josef Schlesinger, in a Late Baroque style. This historical landmark boasts two clocks on its façade, a feature that symbolizes the former Prague Ghetto. The clock which is higher up on the tower uses Roman numerals. Notably, the second clock uses Hebrew numerals and hands that move counterclockwise. Although the Town Hall is not open to the public, it is still worth seeking out when touring the Jewish Quarter. Image attribution: Jim, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons; jerzy Strzelecki, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons; Richard Mortel from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons; hakkun, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons; Yair Haklai, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Built in late Gothic style during 1535, the Pinkas Synagogue is Prague's second oldest preserved synagogue. The synagogue was transformed into a memorial for the 80,000 Bohemian and Moravian Jews who were killed during the Holocaust. Following the Soviet invasion of 1968, the memorial was closed for 20 years. It was reopened to the public in 1995. An exhibition featuring children’s drawings from the Terezín Ghetto is permanently on display. The exhibition was produced under artist Friedl Dicker-Brandeis’ supervision. Image attribution: Øyvind Holmstad, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons Uoaei1, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons