What is the oldest Jewish synagogue in Europe?
The oldest Jewish synagogue in Europe is the Old-New Synagogue, known as Staronová synagoga in Czech, located in Prague, Czech Republic. It stands as a testament to the enduring presence of the Jewish community in Europe. Constructed in the 13th century, the synagogue's exact year of completion is believed to be around 1270. Its remarkable age lends it a unique historical and architectural significance. The synagogue is a blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles, reflecting the architectural influences of its time.
Legend surrounds the construction of the Old-New Synagogue, with a captivating story suggesting that angels themselves intervened in its creation. According to folklore, the synagogue's builder, Rabbi Avigdor Kara, was granted a vision by heavenly messengers who provided him with divine guidance on its design. As a result, the building's distinctive features, such as its five-nave layout, high stone walls, and a unique arrangement of twelve supporting columns, bear witness to the spiritual significance attributed to this sacred place.
The Old-New Synagogue has withstood the test of time and witnessed centuries of historical events, including the persecutions and hardships faced by the Jewish community. Its enduring presence symbolizes the resilience and tenacity of European Jewry. Today, the synagogue stands as both a place of worship and a living museum, welcoming visitors from around the world to explore its rich history and contemplate the enduring legacy of Jewish heritage in Europe.