Spanish Synagogue

The Spanish Synagogue is a fine example of Arabo-Andalusian-inspired architecture enhanced by splendid decoration. The synagogue houses two exhibitions testifying to its past and that of the Jewish community.

Built in 1868 in the Jewish quarter, the Spanish Synagogue is the symbol of the emancipated Czech Jewish community. After years of oppression, Jews were granted citizenship rights in 1848, but it was not until 1867 that these rights were enshrined in law. One year later, the Spanish Synagogue was built.

It stands on the former site of Prague’s oldest synagogue, the Old School, which was destroyed in 1897. Closed to the public for 20 years due to its reconstruction, it reopened its doors in 1998 for its 130th anniversary.

The work of architects Vojtěch Ignác Ullman and Josef Niklas, the synagogue consists of a square central room topped by a dome. On three sides, galleries open onto the main nave.

Prague’s largest synagogue really stands out from the other synagogues in the Jewish Quarter in terms of its decoration and architectural inspiration. The Synagogue is richly and superbly decorated in a neo-Moorish style reminiscent of the Alhambra in Andalusia. Gilded stucco arabesques and oriental motifs are repeated on the walls as well as in the engravings on the doors, in the ornaments on the balustrades and in two of the galleries. The huge gilded dome and colourful stained glass windows are particularly impressive.

The first floor of the synagogue houses the permanent exhibition History of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia, from the 18th century to the post-war period, which follows on from the exhibition in the Maisel Synagogue.

On the upper floor, the synagogue also houses an exhibition of Bohemian-Moravian silver dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

Outside the synagogue you will find the monument to Franz Kafka. Close to Dušní street where Franz Kafka lived, the statue stands on the exact spot where the border between Prague’s Old Town and Jewish Quarter districts is located.


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