This and That

Random bits of my life

Prague’s Klausen Synagogue

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 24, 2013


My favourite synagogue in Prague’s Jewish Quarter is the Klausen (= “small,” from Latin claustrum), because of its light and elegant interior. The original building was constructed in 1573 and destroyed by fire in 1689. The current building was built in 1694, although most of its current architecture dates from the reconstruction undertaken in the 1880s. The Nazis destroyed much of the interior and used the building for storage. Now part of Prague’s Jewish Museum, it houses an exhibit of objects associated with the life cycle and festivals. Normally I would have photographed this building with a much wider lens but since photography isn’t allowed, I used my normal zoom lens, shot from the hip and hoped for the best.

The shot below was taken from the women’s gallery and shows the baroque 17th century Torah ark.


Closer view of the Torah ark, taken from the ground floor. The spiral columns are typically baroque.




This gate leads to the Altneu synagogue. The emblem of the Prague Jewish community, a yellow hat within a Star of David, appears in many places.


Gothic gabled facade of the Altneu synagogue.


The Jewish Town Hall, built in 1586, has two clocks. The one with Hebrew letters runs counter-clockwise. If you need kosher food in Prague, the Jewish Town Hall has a small store. Just remember that it opens midday and that you have to allow time for the security interview.


6 Responses to “Prague’s Klausen Synagogue”

  1. I’m confused. If photography isn’t allowed, how did you get the pictures at all?

    • Avital Pinnick said

      I shoot from the hip, wide aperture, shutter speed around 1/25 (1/40 if there are people because they move more), high ISO. Unless it’s extremely quiet or there are a lot of guards around, I can usually get away with it.

      • As long as you’re not using flash, and are respectful, I don’t think most places mind. It’s the jerky people that ruin if for everyone else. The shots are really great. I love holy places.

      • Avital Pinnick said

        There are signs posted all over that forbid photography. I would not have been allowed to take the photos if I’d been obvious about it.

  2. Anne said

    I love the ceiling, so beautiful. Do you know what flowers they are? I am glad you were not caught taking the photo’s. Why the security interview? I do love seeing the places you go too and things that catch your eye 🙂

    • Avital Pinnick said

      It’s hard to tell what kind of flowers are on the ceiling but I think they’re roses. The ISO was quite high, so there’s a lot of noise, but they seem to be round roses. As for the security interview, it’s because Jews are targets of terrorist attacks (remember Mumbai?). So many Jewish institutions around the world have tight security.

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