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Interior of the Vinohrady Synagogue, Prague

• Jindøich Eckert, ca. 1900
• acquired in 1947
• JMP collection, Judaica sub-collection (Visual Art Collection, Photography and New Media sub-collection)
• on display at the Robert Guttmann Gallery as part of the exhibition “Symbols of Emancipation. Nineteenth-Century Synagogues in the Czech Lands” (until 4 August)

Jindøich Eckert (1833-1905) is considered to be the most important Czech photographer of the nineteenth century. In 1897-1902 he focused mainly on photographing monuments in the rapidly disappearing Prague ghetto.
Plans for a large synagogue in Vinohrady with a seating capacity for more than 2,000 people were drawn up in 1895–96 by the Viennese architect Wilhelm Stiassny. The main façade onto Sázavská Street was dominated by two narrow, eight-sided towers with lanterns, a large rose window with the Star of David and the tablets of the Ten Commandments on the top of a tympanum. The eastern façade had a blind portal. The actual entrance led through passageways in the side buildings of the rabbi’s living quarters and the Jewish school to the gallery around the synagogue. Inside was a large basilica space with arcade galleries for women on three sides of the main hall. The columns and galleries were clad in marble and were impressive in their simplicity.

The Vinohrady Synagogue was dedicated in September 1896. At the time, there were almost 3,500 Jews living in the Vinohrady district of Prague and by 1921 there were as many as 5,732, making it the largest Jewish community in the country. During the Nazi occupation it housed a children’s home and a Jewish school. After a ban on religious services had been introduced in the autumn of 1941, all of the benches were removed from the synagogue and the Nazis turned the building into a storehouse for furniture looted from Jewish apartments. On 14 February 1945, the synagogue was accidentally hit by an incendiary bomb in an allied raid and its interior was destroyed by the fire. In 1951, the local building authority decided to blast the remains of the synagogue and of the next-door buildings. An elementary school was later built on the site. A memorial plaque was unveiled on the school façade in February 1995.

JMP Inv. No.: 102.157
Contact positive on glass plate, mounted to a grey board
Size of photo: 317 x 247 mm, size of board 380 x 280 mm

Ground floor plan of the Vinohrady Synagogue, W. Stiassny, 1894

Plan for the ground-floor and gallery seats of the Vinohrady Synagogue

Eastern façade of the Vinohrady Synagogue, ca. 1905

Vinohrady Synagogue after being bombed on 14 February 1945

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