Maisel Synagogue

Prague, Czech Republic

Maisel Synagogue

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Maisel Synagogue (Czech: Maiselova synagoga) is one of the historical monuments of the former Prague Jewish quarter. It was built at the end of the 16th century which is considered to be the golden age of the ghetto. Since then its appearance has changed several times, its actual style is neo-gothic. Nowadays the synagogue belongs to the Jewish Community of Prague and is administered by the Jewish Museum in Prague as a part of its expositions.

The construction of the synagogue was initiated by Mordechai Maisel. First, in 1590, this renowned businessman and benefactor of the ghetto gained the building site. One year later he obtained from the emperor Rudolf II, the current sovereign of the country, a privilege to build his own synagogue. Mordecai Maisel had an important position at Rudolf's court and that probably helped him to gain this favour. The architectural plan for Maisel synagogue, designed by Judah Coref de Herz, was realized by Josef Wahl and in 1592, on Simchat Torah, the synagogue was consecrated. For the next century it became the largest and most impressive building in the ghetto, also thanks to its abundant equipment. Maisel bequeathed the synagogue to the Prague Jewish community, yet after his death in 1601 all his possession, including the synagogue, was confiscated (in spite of another imperial privilege, allowing Maisel to write a testament). Maisel's last will was therefore fulfilled entirely only after a number of trials, several decades later.




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