Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 3, 2013
The Altneu Synagogue or Altneushul is Europe’s oldest active synagogue. It was completed in 1270. The name means “old-new,” and references an older synagogue that was destroyed in 1867 and replaced by the Spanish Synagogue. According to legend, the remains of the Golem are hidden in the attic. Its design is classically Gothic. The photos above and below show the two gables of the synagogue building. I wasn’t able to get a good photo of the entire building because of the tree branches and parked cars.
The tympanum carved above the entrance of the nave has 12 grape clusters and 12 vines, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. There are also four rivers representing the rivers of Gan Eden.
The synagogue, although part of the Jewish Museum, is not included in the general admission. If you go to evening prayers on a weekday, you can get in for free and even take photos after prayers. The bimah (below) is surrounded by a cage-like structure of wrought iron with lamps hanging from it. Note the oil Shabbat lamp in the center of the photo below, for holding the wicks.
This metal container is an eruv holder. Often matzah was used and the eruv would be changed once a year.
Banner above the bimah. This banner is a modern reproduction of the banner that Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, awarded the Jewish community for helping to defend Prague during the Thirty Years War.