While walking down the lane of famous couture designers like Burberry, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, all of a sudden, I see an old building where I can’t buy anything expensive. Gothic architecture, red roofs, metal doors, and aged bricks enclosed Staronova Synagoga. There is a legend that angels brought the foundation’s stones from the temple of Jerusalem that was destroyed during biblical times. The inside was like a day lit cave with tiny square windows and an almost mildewy, but not unpleasant smell.
Before entering, men are asked to wear yamakas as a sign of respect for this holy place. The seating was peculiar, wrapped in a square with a big cage-like structure in the middle where the rabbi would stand. Each seat was numbered with a gold plate, some even with names, a total of 97. The wood on each seat was well worn and marks were imprinted where someone’s back would be placed. The Old-New Synagogue still has its same seating layout that corresponds to the other synagogues of its time.
In the very front was another cage with steps and a red velvet curtain with Hebrew writing containing the holy Torah behind it. The ceilings were high and rounded with defined panel lines. It seemed quite odd that on the sides of the wall there were small narrow openings that looked like peep holes but after doing some research, I found that those narrow peephole windows are in correspondence with the twelve tribes in Israel.
This temple was built in the 13th century and has been the primary synagogue in Prague for the past 700 years to the Jewish community. It is run by the Jewish Community of Prague and is open Sunday-Thursday from 9am-6pm. Also part of the Jewish Museum is the Pinkas Synagogue, and it is the main memorial place to remember the 80,000 Prague Jews who died in the Holocaust.