Jewish Spanish Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic

Jewish Spanish Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic

Jewish Spanish Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic is the newest synagogue in Prague’s area of Jewish Town.   It was built at the place of the presumably oldest synagogue, Old School. The synagogue is built in Moorish Revival Style. Only a little park with a modern statue of famous Prague writer Franz Kafka (by Jaroslav Róna) lies between it and the church of St. Spirit. The Spanish Synagogue is administered by the Jewish Museum in Prague.

The capacity of the Old School did not suffice in the late 19th century. The Reform Jewish Community decided to demolish the synagogue in 1867. One year later it was replaced by the new, Spanish Synagogue. Its name presumably refers to the style in which it was built. Moorish Revival style was inspired by the art of Arabic period of Spanish history. The architectural plans were designed by Vojtěch Ignác Ullmann and Josef Niklas. In 1935, a functionalistic building, designed by Karel Pecánek, was added to the synagogue. During the Second World War it served to the Jewish Community as a hospital. The appearance of the synagogue has remained unchanged since 1935.

During the Second World War, confiscated properties of Czech Jewish Communities were stored in the synagogue. Ten years after the war, the synagogue was handed over to Jewish Museum. In 1958–1959 it was completely reconstructed inside. In the following year an exposition of synagogue textiles was opened there. The building began to deteriorate in the 1970s. In 1982 it was definitely closed. The reconstruction started only after the Velvet revolution. Completely restored to its former beauty, the synagogue was opened with a ceremony in 1998.

Since the last reconstruction in 1998, an exposition about modern Jewish history in the Czech lands can be seen there. It begins with reforms initiated by enlightened Emperor Joseph II. These reforms started the Jewish emancipation and inclusion of Jews to major society. Traumatic events of the 20th century are also commemorated in the museum.

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