Are you coming to Prague? Then you have to visit the Jewish Quarter and one of its many and famous synagogues: the Maisel synagogue. Learn more about it in the below article and let us know how was your visit!
Let’s start with some historical data about the Maisel synagogue. The synagogue was built in 1592 on the basis of a privilege granted by Emperor Rudolf II. Its founder was Mordechai Maisel, the Mayor of the Prague Jewish Town. In his day, Mordechai Maisel was an immensely influential and powerful person. He had such influence that no less than the Emperor Rudolph II himself granted him a number of important privileges that other Jews could only dream of. One such privilege was the chance to build a private prayer hall. Built by Judah Tzoref de Herz and Josef Wahl, the Maisel synagogue was originally a Renaissance temple with three naves, which was unusual for its day. In 1689, the synagogue burnt down in the ghetto fire and lost most of the valuable items, such as it synagogue utensils and textiles. It has undergone numerous reconstructions in the following decades, acquiring its present neo-Gothic form between 1894 and 1905.
The Maisel synagogue hosts a permanent exhibition called « Jews in the Bohemian Lands, 10th-18th Century ». On display is a wealth of rare collection objects, each placed in a new layout and proper context after a recent comprehensive reconstruction of the Maisel Synagogue. Touch screens enable visitors to look through old Hebrew manuscripts and to view historical maps of Jewish settlements. Visitors are also encouraged to search the museum’s database for information about prominent Jewish figures. In the evening hours, the exhibition area is often transformed into an auditorium and used as a venue for concerts, recitals and solo theatre performances. Thanks to a huge screen inside the synagogue, visitors will also be able to see what the Jewish Quarter used to look like, long before the 18th century and the renovation of the area.
To have a better insight on what’s going on in the Maisel synagogue, have a look at this great video: https://youtu.be/i8hcV8IvKuI