Prague Jewish Quarter Josefov
The Jewish Quarter in Prague, known as Josefov, is located between the Old Town Square and the Vltava River. Its torrid history dates back to the 13th century, when the Jewish community in Prague were ordered to vacate their disparate homes and settle in one area.
Over the centuries more and more people were crowded into the area, as Jews were banned from living anywhere else. Restrictions on their movements and the trades they were allowed to conduct underwent constant change.
The Jewish Ceremonial Hall The Jewish Museum in Prague has one of the most extensive collections of Jewish art, textiles and silver in the world; there are 40,000 exhibits and 100,000 books. The collection is unique, everything in the museum was gathered from Bohemia and Moravia and evokes the Jewish history and a valuable heritage for the present Czech Republic.
The Jewish Quarter, or the Prague Jewish Ghetto as it was later to become known, also endured a lot of structural changes, the latest of which was a vast redevelopment of the area between 1893-1913. Its present appearance dates mainly from this period, although most of the significant buildings from previous eras were saved, a living testimony to the history of Prague Jews, spanning many centuries.
The Old-New Synagogue
Built around 1270, it is the oldest working synagogue in Europe. This is the oldest preserved synagogue in Central Europe and is richly adorned by intricate stonework, and one of Prague's earliest Gothic buildings. All interior furnishings are originals. On the eastern wall is the Holy Ark in which the Torah scrolls are kept, on the walls are Hebrew biblical abbreviations. The Old-New Synagogue is today the main house of prayer of Prague's Jewish community.
Old Jewish Cemetery
Founded in 1478, it is Europe's oldest surviving Jewish cemetery. People had to be buried on top of each other because of lack of space. There are about 12 layer and over 12,000 gravestones. 100,000 people are thought to have been buried here, the last one was Moses Beck in 1787. The most prominent graves are those of Mordechai Maisel and Rabi Löw
Founded in 1479 by Rabbi Pinkas this synagogue was rebuilt many times over the centuries. There is a gallery for women added in the early 17th century. Since after the WWII it has served as a memorial to all the 77,297 Jewish Czechoslowak victims of the Nazis. Their names are inscribed on the walls. There is also a collection of paintings and drawings by children held in the Terezín concentration camp during WWII.
This Baroque synagogue was completed in 1694. There is a good exhibition of Hebrew prints and manuscripts, an exhibition of Jewish traditions and customs and also drawings of children from the Terezín concentration camp .
Jewish Town Hall
This synagogue was built by Maisel in 1586, its rococo facade was added in the 18 century. There is a clock tower with Hebrew figures whose hands run backwards because Hebrew reads from right to left. Except the Kosher Eatery it is closed to the public.
Built by Maisel the original Renaissance building was a victim of the fire in 1689. A new neo-Gothic synagogue has been built in its place. Since the 1960s it has housed a fascinating collection of Jewish silver, textiles, prints and books, most of them brought to Prague by the Nazis with the intention of establishing a museum of vanished people.
Built between 1876 and 1884 the Rudolfinum is an outstanding example of Czech Neo-Renaissance style. It was named in honour of Crown Prince Rudolf of Habsburg. Between the wars it served as the seat of the Czechoslovak parliament, today it is a home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the Rudolfinum Gallery where temporary art exhibitions are held.
So called because its prayer hall is on the first floor, this synagogue was built in the 16th century and financed by Mordechai Maisel, mayor of the Jewish Town. There is an exhibition of Torah mantles, curtains, silver ornaments and also a Jewish museum shop on the ground floor.
Church of the Holy Ghost
It was built in the mid-14th century as a part of a convent of Benedictine nuns. The church was destroyed in 1420 during the Husite Wars and badly damaged by the fire of 1689. The furnishings are mainly Baroque. Inside the church there is a statue of St Ann and busts of St Wenceslas and St Adalbert, in front of the church stands a stone statue of St John Nepomuk.
Built in 1868 the Spanish synagogue was named after its striking Moorish interior. There is an exhibition showing the life of the Jews in the Czech Republic from emancipation to the present day.
St Agnes's Convent
The convent was founded in 1234 by Agnes, a sister of King Wenceslas I. In the1230s it was a double monastery of the female Poor Clares and the male Minorites. There are two churches in the convent: the St Salvator Church where the tomb of St Agnes has been found, and the St Francis Church with the tomb of the King Wenceslas I, Today, the convent is used by the National Gallery to display a collection of European medieval art.
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