Czech Republic

Old/New Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic

Despite its bizarre name, this Synagogue is the oldest in the Jewish Quarter (Josefov). It is also the oldest working Synagogue in Europe as well as one of the oldest Gothic buildings.

It was built in 1270 and was originally called the "New Synagogue", until another was built nearby (which has subsequently vanished). It survived fires, clearances, pogroms and even the Holocaust which emptied the Josefov of its population but not its monuments - Hitler had decided to preserve them as a "Museum for the Vanished Jewish Race", a vile idea but one which left us with some wonderful monuments which would probably otherwise have been destroyed.

Rabbi Löw, the legendary creator of the Golem, was Rabbi here and supposedly hid the Golem in the rafters of the Synagogue.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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and Shaun Runham
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