A Visit to Prague and a Rephotography Adventure: Part 1

by Roelie Reed

The Old Town (Staré Mésto)

In my quest to visit as many different places as possible, I went to Prague recently.   Of course, I checked HEIR to see if there were any old photographs of the city so that I could re-photograph buildings/places.

As luck would have it, there were 5 pictures on HEIR; The Old Synagogue; Strahov Kirche; The Old Town Hall; Loretto Platz and one unnamed view.

The weather in Prague was just perfect for walking around and photographing the great buildings. And yes, I found the locations!

"Prague. The Old Synagogue. 49. Paris to Prague. 37223" History of Art Department, Oxford University

“Prague. The Old Synagogue. 49. Paris to Prague. 37223” History of Art Department, Oxford University

Photographer: Roelie Reed

Photographer: Roelie Reed

The Old Synagogue is called The Old-New Synagogue (Staronová Synagóga) – it was first constructed in the 1270s and is the oldest functioning synagogue in Europe.   There are many stories why it is called the Old-New Synagogue; one is that it was the first to be built, hence the New, and when another synagogue was built nearby, this became the New Synagogue. The one I like best is the story that the foundation stones were flown over by Angels from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem on condition (in Hebrew) that they will be returned on Judgement Day.   It is easy to understand that alt naj became ‘alt-neu’ in German and Old-New in English.

The Old Town Hall picture was a bit of a puzzle, it was not the town hall, but the Church of Our Lady before Týn.   The square is still the same, usually busier, but there are two significant changes:

Copyright: Roelie Reed

Copyright: Roelie Reed

"50. Prague. The Old Town Hall. Paris to Prague. 37222". From the History of Art Department, University of Oxford

“50. Prague. The Old Town Hall. Paris to Prague. 37222”. From the History of Art Department, University of Oxford

  • The area where the original monument with a pillar and cannon stood in the HEIR lantern slide was fenced off. In peering through the barricade, it looked like they were reinstalling the monument, but there was a lot of archaeology underneath the current square. I saw at least two other surfaces further down as well as the area where the statue should be.
  • The building to the left of the church. It looks older in style today than it did 100 years ago!  On the old photo it had a Baroque façade, but I found out that in 1989 workers discovered a Gothic building behind with a bell on the south west corner, which now gives the building its name: – “The house at the stone bell”.

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