In the Vinohrady neighborhood of Prague 2 is Náměsti Míru, which translates to “Peace Square” or Plaza. The square was built around Kostel sv. Ludmily (Church of Saint Ludmila) which was completed in 1892. The church and the square were planned as the centerpiece of the new addition to Prague, Vinohrady (“castle vineyards”). Vinohrady was the second major addition to the city outside the eastern medieval city walls, the first being Karlín. The first phase of the addition was built in the late 1880s, when construction began on Kostel sv. Ludmily. That band of housing blocks stretches between what is now Legerova avenue on the west (where the city wall ran) and Italská and Belgická avenues on the east. A second larger phase of building began in 1903 eventually filling over 30 city blocks of buildings over the next five years. That flurry of construction activity must have been something to behold.
This video is a short walk down Jugoslávská avenue to Náměsti Míru and through the square to the corner of Ibsenova avenue. You will see the twin bell towers of Kostel sv. Ludmily and then the art nouveau building. Divadlo na Vinohradech (Vinohrady Theater).
On an ordinary street between two ordinary (for Prague) buildings, rests this amazing house of worship: the Jerusalem Synagogue of Prague.
The art nouveau Moorish style synagogue was built between 1905 and 1906. It was designed by Vienna architect and experienced synagogue builder Wilhelm Stiassny and constructed by a team led by Alois Richter. The interior wall paintings and stuccos were crafted by a team led by František Fröhlich.
The synagogue was built as a compensation for dilapidated church buildings demolished by the city. The center of the Western front face is decorated by a Czech and Hebrew inscription:
This is God’s gate, through which the righteous enter. Don’t we all have but one father? Have we not been created by the only God?
The synagogue can seat up to 850. In the Jewish tradition, the side galleries are designated for women, with a separate entrance.
Though known today as the “Jerusalem Synagogue,” named after the street it is on, the official name is the “Jubilee Synagogue (Synagoga Jubilejní). The name was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Franz Joseph I. In 1907, the synagogue passed from the Israelite Synagogue society into the property of the Prague Jewish Community. Worship services have been help continuously ever since, with the exception of the period of Nazi “protectorate.” The German occupation force used the synagogue to store property stolen from Prague’s Jewish residents, many of whom were exiled and murdered.
The synagogue was restored and re-opened to the public in 1996. During renovation work. richly painted ornaments of the Vienna Art Nouveau style were discovered on approximately twenty five square meters of walls and ceiling under the deposits of plaster and layers of old painting.
Jerusalem Synagogue of Prague is at Jeruzalémská 1310/7 Praha.