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Exploring Josefov, Prague's Jewish Quarter

Having spent twelve days in Prague, Liz and her husband are keen to share their experience and help others planning a visit to the city.

Candlestick in Maisel Synagogue.

Candlestick in Maisel Synagogue.

Josefov

No visit to Prague is complete without a visit to Josefov to learn about the history of the Jewish community in the city. Bordered by the Old Town and the River Vltava, the Jewish Quarter is one of the smallest areas in the Czech capital, but also one of the most interesting. It is rich in history and collections of Jewish artifacts, in spite of the demolition of large areas in the 1890s to make way for more salubrious housing.

History

The Jewish Quarter was originally formed by the merging of two Jewish communities from the Middle Ages in Prague Old Town. The Old-New synagogue was surrounded by Jews from the west and Jews from the Byzantine Empire settled around the Old Shul (where the Spanish Synagogue now stands). The merged communities lived in a ghetto. Oppressive laws were enacted for centuries against the Jews in Prague. One law in the 16th century made them wear a yellow circle as a sign of shame.

Rudolph II was less oppressive and appointed Mordechai Maisel, the Jewish Mayor, as chief financial adviser. Joseph II treated the Jews well, and it is said that the Jewish Quarter was named Josefov after him. It was not until 1850 that the Jewish Quarter officially became a part of Prague. With lack of sanitation making the ghetto a health hazard, much of the area was demolished by the city authorities in the 1890s. The Town Hall, several synagogues, and the Old Jewish Cemetery were spared.

Amazingly, the Nazis preserved the Jewish Quarter during World War II as a record of the communities destroyed by the regime. As a result of this policy, Jewish artifacts were gathered from Czechoslovakia and further afield to be stored in Prague, giving rise to the large collection preserved to this day.

The mid-20th century was a tragic time for the Jews. Many were killed by the Nazis and others were forced to leave by the subsequent communist regime. The Jewish community in Prague now numbers 5000–6000 people.

The Top 8 Sights in Prague's Jewish Quarter

We spent an afternoon visiting the main sites of Josefov. All are easily accessible on foot. Most are covered by an all-in-one ticket to the Jewish Museum, with the exception of the Old-New Synagogue, for which we purchased a separate ticket, and the Jewish Town Hall, which is closed to the public.

  1. Spanish Synagogue. (Closed from June 1919–fall 2020).
  2. Maisel Synagogue.
  3. Old-New Synagogue.
  4. Jewish Town Hall.
  5. Klausen Synagogue.
  6. Ceremonial Hall.
  7. Pinkas Synagogue.
  8. Old Jewish Cemetery.

Skull caps are provided for male visitors to the synagogues.

Skull cap supplied to male vistors.

Skull cap supplied to male vistors.

1. Spanish Synagogue

Location and History

Located on Vezenska, a few minutes walk from the main cluster of Jewish buildings in Josefov, the Spanish Synagogue is the newest and most ornate in this area of Prague.

Although the Spanish Synagogue only dates back to 1868, the site has been a prominent one in the Jewish community since the 11th century. Prague's first synagogue, Stara skola (the Old School or 'old shul') on this site, was at the heart of the community for Jews of the eastern rite.

In 1935 a functional building was added to the Spanish Synagogue and the building has remained unchanged since. During World War II property confiscated from Czech Jewish communities and furniture removed from other synagogues was stored here.

Since being handed over to the Jewish Museum ten years after the war, the Spanish Synagogue has had a checkered history. 1958-1959 saw a complete internal restoration and in 1960 an exhibition of synagogue textiles opened here. But in the 1970s the building was neglected and it was closed in 1982. Its fortunes revived after the Velvet Revolution and in 1998, fully restored, the Spanish Synagogue re-opened. On 1st June 2019, its doors closed again for renovation work, with plans for it to reopen in fall 2020.

Design

From the outside, the Spanish Synagogue resembles a Moorish palace with its intricate stonework, interestingly curved windows, and jagged roof edging. A motif of the Ten Commandments has a prominent position on the facade.

Inside, the Spanish connection continues and it's easy to see how this was modeled on the Alhambra. Floral motifs and geometric patterns abound on every available surface.

The basic floor plan is simple. The main hall is surrounded by three balconies with a dome above, but it is the stunning gilded decoration and the striking stained glass windows that catch the eye. It is well worth going up on the balconies to view the exhibition, get a stunning view of the synagogue interior from above, and to see the ornate organ.

Before its recent closure, there was an exhibition about the history of the Jews in Prague from 1781 during the reign of Josef II, when the Edict of Tolerance was issued.

Don't Miss These Other Sites

Near the Spanish Museum, there are two other sites worth seeing.

Franz Kafka Statue

As you approach the Spanish Synagogue you might be intrigued by the unusual statue on the street nearby. Sculpted by Jaroslav Rona and installed in 2003, the 3.75meter bronze statue depicts Franz Kafka on the shoulders of a headless figure.

Franz Kafka (1883–1924) was a famous German-speaking Bohemian Jewish novelist, who came from Prague. Fusing realism and the fantastic, little of Kafka's writing was published in his lifetime. Since his death, however, his work has become well-known and he is now regarded as a leading 20th-Century writer, with his writing having spawned the term 'Kafkaesque', which is used to describe situations similar to those in his books.

The statue near the Spanish Synagogue refers to Kafka's story, "Beschreibung eines Kampfes" or "Description of a Struggle".

Robert Guttmann Gallery

This is one that we nearly missed. It was only as I checked off the sites on our all-in-one ticket at the end of our walk around Josefov, that I noticed the Robert Guttmann Gallery. With a reputation for always wanting to get my money's worth and not wanting to miss anything on the tour, we trekked back towards the Spanish Synagogue to find the gallery located in a street behind.

Named after a Jewish painter, the gallery focuses on exhibitions of work by Jewish artists from the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as post-war and contemporary art.

Kafka statue, Prague.

Kafka statue, Prague.

2. Maisel Synagogue

This synagogue takes its name from a former mayor of Josefov, Mordechai Maisel. Having made his fortune lending money to Rudolph II for wars against the Turks, Maisel had the most richly decorated synagogue in the city as his private house of prayer at the end of the 16th century. After the original was destroyed by fire in 1689, a new synagogue was built on the site.

The Maisel synagogue has been remodeled several times and the present Gothic-style building dates from 1893–1905.

The interior, with its bare white-washed walls, differs a lot from the original ornate building. The history of the Czech-Jewish community before 1781 is told in an exhibition here along with a collection of gold and silverwork, candlesticks, scrolls, and other artifacts. Tragically most of the collection of Jewish treasures were brought to Prague by the Nazis, after being plundered from Bohemia and Moravia, to place in their museum to a vanished people.

3. Old-New Synagogue

The oldest functioning synagogue in Europe, built around 1270 is worthy of its place on any tour of Josefov. Having survived fires, the 19th Century slum clearances, and many Jewish pogroms, the Old-New Synagogue is still at the religious heart of the Jewish community in Prague. It is one of the earliest Gothic buildings in Prague and was originally known as the New Synagogue (New or Great Shul) until other synagogues, were built nearby. It then became known as the Old-New Synagogue (Altneuschul).

The exterior is marked by a set of steep Gothic sawtooth brick gables. at either end of a large saddle roof. The thick outer walls are supported by buttresses. Low annexes on three sides of the main rectangular building serve as an entrance and women's sections. Narrow gaps in the walls allow women to hear the service.

You step down into the main nave, because traditionally as a sign of humility, the floor level is lower than the surrounding land. The interior is plain and simple, but there are several points of interest.

  • A large elaborate wrought-iron cage in the center surrounds the bimah, the raised platform from which the Torah is read.
  • Above the cage hangs the Jewish Standard. This historic banner features the six-pointed Star of David with a Jewish hat inside it, the official symbol of the Jewish community in Prague.
  • The Torah is a parchment scroll containing the Five Books of Moses handwritten in Hebrew. The scrolls of the Torah are stored in the Ark.
  • The Ark is the holiest place in the synagogue. It is on the eastern wall, facing Jerusalem. The ner tamid (eternal light) hangs in front of the Ark and the cantor's desk is to the right. The tympanum above the Ark is decorated with 13th-Century leaf carvings.

The interior is lit by chandeliers and in keeping with the layout of the synagogues of the time, seating is around the outside walls of the main hall. Walking into the Old-New Synagogue is like stepping back hundreds of years in time.

4. Jewish Town Hall

Although closed to the public, it's worth pausing as you pass by to look at the Jewish Town Hall, located by the Old-New Synagogue. It too survived the demolition of the run-down areas in Josefov at the end of the 19th century. The Rococo blue-and-white facade from the 18th century belies its earlier origins. The core of the building was the original Jewish Town Hall, dating from 1570–77 when its construction was financed by the extremely rich mayor, Mordechai Maisel.

It is worth noting that this is one of the few buildings of this kind to emerge unscathed after the Holocaust. You can't miss the wooden clock tower and its green steeple, with a clock on each of the four sides. Look at the north gable and you will find another clock. This one is Hebrew with hands moving anti-clockwise reflecting Hebrew script which reads from the right.

The Council of Jewish Religious Communities in the Czech Republic now takes place in the Jewish Town Hall.

5. Klausen Synagogue

A group of small Jewish schools and prayer houses, called klausen were originally on this site, which neighbors the Old Jewish Cemetery. After they were destroyed in the fire of 1689, a synagogue bearing the same name was built here. The interior of the Baroque building, with its high vaulted ceilings, contains a collection of religious objects. Hebrew prints, manuscripts, and an exhibition of Jewish traditions and customs trace Jewish history in Central Europe back to the early Middle Ages.

Along with all the exhibits, you can't miss the ornamental three-tiered Torah Ark, which was added in 1696 after a donation by a wealthy benefactor.

6. Ceremonial Hall

Adjoining the Klausen Synagogue you will notice a building resembling a small medieval castle. It actually dates from the early 20th century, when it was built as a ceremonial hall by the Jewish Burial Society. It now contains an exhibition about Jewish traditions of burial and death and is appropriately located overlooking the Old Jewish Cemetery.

7. Pinkas Synagogue

Of all the synagogues we visited in Prague, our visit to the Pinkas Synagogue, located by the Old Jewish Cemetery, was definitely the most moving. A Jewish religious building has existed on this site since the 15th century. It takes its name from Rabbi Pinkas. Over the years the synagogue has been restored many times.

In the 1950s the Pinkas Synagogue became a memorial to all the Jewish people from Czechoslovakia, who, after imprisonment in Terezin concentration camp, were then deported to Nazi extermination camps. The names of the 77,297 who never returned are inscribed on the walls of the synagogue. There is also a chilling list of the camps. It is a fitting memorial. More sobering still is the realization that the names inscribed on these walls represent only a fraction of those who died in the Nazi concentration camps.

Even more harrowing are the contents of an upstairs room, where drawings by children in the Terezin (Theresienstadt) camp are displayed. Friedl Dicker Brandeis, a painter, took drawing lessons for the children in which she encouraged them to express themselves. They grappled with life in the camp through their pictures, as well as drawing about memories of home and hopes of the future. Sadly most of these young children never lived to see the future, as they perished in concentration camps along with their teacher. But their tutor hid the drawings in the Terezin camp before she was deported to Auschwitz, thus preserving them for future generations to see.

8. Old Jewish Cemetery

There has been a cemetery on this site since 1478. For over 300 years it was the only burial site allowed for Jews. The overcrowding in the cemetery reflected the overcrowding in the Jewish ghetto surrounding it. It is estimated that over 100,000 people were buried here before the final burial in 1787.

Bodies were buried on top of each other, as many as 12 layers deep. Graves have been roped off to protect them. Nevertheless, the mix of over 12,000 gravestones leaning at an angle and the Hebrew inscriptions on them cause visitors to pause, away from the noise of the city, and reflect on this final resting place for the Jewish community in bygone years.

Finding Your Way Around Josefov

What Have You Learned About Josefov?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. 1. Where is the name Josefov thought to come from?
    • Czech translation of Jewish.
    • Joseph II.
  2. 2. Which building was the Spanish Synagogue modelled on?
    • The Alhambra, Granada.
    • La Giralda, Seville.
  3. 3. Which wrtiter does the statue by the Spanish Synagogue commemorate?
    • Max Brod.
    • Franz Kafka.
  4. 4. Which former mayor gave his name to a synagogue in Josefov?
    • Aaron Maisel.
    • Mordechai Maisel.
  5. 5. When was the Old-New Synagogue built?
    • Around 1220
    • Around1270
  6. 6. How do the hands of the Hebrew clock on the Town Hall move?
    • Anti-clockwise.
    • Clockwise.
  7. 7. What is displayed in the Klausen Synagogue?
    • A collection of religious objects.
    • Drawings by children from Camp Terezin.
  8. 8. What does the Ceremonial Hall overlook?
    • River Vltava.
    • Old Jewish Cemetery.
  9. 9. Where is the Holocaust memorial located?
    • Pinkas Synagogue.
    • Spanish Synagogue.
  10. 10. Roughly how many were buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery?
    • Around 80,000.
    • Over 100,000.

Answer Key

  1. Joseph II.
  2. The Alhambra, Granada.
  3. Franz Kafka.
  4. Mordechai Maisel.
  5. Around1270
  6. Anti-clockwise.
  7. A collection of religious objects.
  8. Old Jewish Cemetery.
  9. Pinkas Synagogue.
  10. Over 100,000.

If You Have Time

All of the above sights are clustered within a small area of Prague, but if you have time, while you are in Prague I would highly recommend visiting Jerusalem Synagogue in Prague New Town. It is located a 16-minute walk (1.3km) southwest of Maisel Synagogue, on Jeruzalemska (Jerusalem Street) on the way to the main railway station of Prague.

Built in 1906 as compensation for buildings demolished in Josefov towards the end of the 19th century, it was originally named the Jubilee Synagogue in 1908 to commemorate Franz Joseph I's 50 years in power as the emperor of Austria. After the demise of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the independence of Czechoslovakia, the synagogue adopted the name Jerusalem Synagogue from its street location.

The eye-catching exterior is a mix of Moorish and Art nouveau and for a small charge, you can access the bright and colorful interior of the newest and largest synagogue in Prague. When we visited there was an exhibition in the women's gallery about the post-war history of the Jewish community in Prague, as well as details about the preservation of Jewish monuments.

For us, the Jerusalem Synagogue brought our journey through the history of the Jewish community of Prague up to date.

Final Thoughts

We spent an afternoon walking around the sights of Josefov in the above order. Fittingly it was an overcast day, as we pondered on some of the more somber aspects of the history of the Jewish community in Prague. Although we had been warned about the Holocaust memorial by other visitors, nothing can prepare you for the impact of the names engraved on the wall of the Pinkas Synagogue. Each name representing a person who never returned from the Nazi concentration camps. Added to this the artwork of the children from Terezin camp makes a profound impact on any visitor.

I had not realized how far back the Jewish community went in Prague. A visit to the Old-New Synagogue is a fascinating step back in time. Nor was I prepared for the ornateness of some of the synagogues, especially the Spanish Synagogue, and on another day, the Jerusalem Synagogue.

This is not an area to be taken as part of a light-hearted sightseeing trip. But for any serious visitor to Prague, Josefov is definitely not to be missed.

The Spanish Synagogue

The Spanish Synagogue

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Liz Westwood

Comments

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on June 16, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Aurelio. I'm glad that you appreciated the virtual tour. I have recently been setting up a Pinterest board with the Prague articles on. Looking back over them, the trip seems a world away from where we are now.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on June 16, 2020:

A nice introduction to a part of the world I knew nothing about. Stopped by here, dreaming about the days when we can travel again. Articles like yours are the next best thing to the actual trip.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on February 19, 2020:

I have noticed that modern technology is being used increasingly to capture and preserve these first hand accounts for future generations. Also in the UK we have some survivors who have gone around schools talking to children about their experiences. Educating the next generation is key to preventing this kind of atrocity from occurring in the future.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2020:

The people who survived those horrific days are getting fewer simply because of the time factor, and most of them were children who can still relate those stories to us. There were several of those children who are now elderly who were filmed telling about their memories. We get to listen to those first-hand stories in our Holocaust museum theater. The ones filmed live in Houston. Few people leave the theater without lumps in their throat and tears in their eyes.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on February 19, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Peggy. I agree completely. It's good to hear that the Holocaust is remembered in the museum near you. There was a lot recently on the news channels hear about the commemorations at Auschwitz to mark the anniversary of its liberation 75 years ago.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2020:

We have a Holocaust museum here in Houston that has recently undergone renovations and additions to it. We have visited it several times before the additions. It is sobering to think of the atrocities that took place. To experience what you saw in Prague would be powerful. We must never forget nor allow such things to happen again. Sadly, genocide still occurs in parts of our world. We must never close our eyes and always do what is possible to stop it.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on January 29, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Denise. I was surprised to find out that Hitler intended creating a collection of Jewish memorabilia in Prague. This meant that so much of this area remained intact.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on January 29, 2020:

I am so impressed and surprised the Nazis allowed this beautiful architecture to stand. It is amazing.

Blessings,

Denise

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 06, 2019:

Thank you for visiting again, Patricia. It was an afternoon well spent for us. We learnt a lot about the Jewish community in Prague. I hope you can visit Prague one day.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on December 06, 2019:

Your article touches me every time I reread it I still would like to visit there one day. It could happen. Thank you for sharing this with us Angels are headed your way this early morning ps

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 06, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, Dale. During our afternoon wandering around Josefov we learnt a lot about the Jewish community in Prague. It was a sombre experience at times focussing on the Holocaust, especially seeing the drawings by young children, many of whom never survived into adulthood.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on December 05, 2019:

This was a thoughtful hub article, well done. Growing up in the outback of Australia like I did, I don't really know much about Jewish people or their beliefs so I am always interested to hear things about this topic.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 23, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, Devika. I was pleasantly surprised at how much there was of interest to see in Prague. I had to write several articles to cover all that we did while we were there.

Devika Primic on November 23, 2019:

I have not visited Prague and is one of the most affordable places to see the many interesting sights. You have got my interest.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on October 21, 2019:

Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Vineetha. I enjoy revisiting places as I write. Our walk around Josefov was interesting and moving.

Vineetha from NAVI MUMBAI on October 21, 2019:

You took me through a virtual journey with this write up. Loved it, through and through.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on September 22, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, Patricia. It is mind-blowing to take in how much the Jewish community suffered. The Holocaust must be one of the lowest points of humanity. We can easily take our own relatively comfortable lifestyles for granted. The plight of children during the Holocaust is especially moving.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on September 22, 2019:

This is definitely a place I would visit. My heart aches over the treatment of the Jewish people. I even researched and wrote about the Jewish children being transported out to escape persecution Thank you for sharing all of this information with us. Angels are on the way to you ps

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 09, 2019:

Thank you very much for your comment, David. I was surprised to read that so much of Josefov was demolished in the late 19th century due to the cramped and poor conditions. The way that the burials were organised in the cemetery reflects the shortage of space around it. It is a fascinating area to explore.

David Tubbs from Ontario, Canada on August 09, 2019:

A wonderful piece, overview, and photos. Couldn't recommend walking through the Old Jewish Cemetery enough. Very moving to do in-person.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 26, 2019:

Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Chuck. When I was recently researching visitor numbers and airports in the Czech Republic, to answer a comment on one of my articles, I noticed that there are flights from Russia. So the Czech Republic might be a good meeting point. There are so many places and countries of interest in Eastern Europe that were inaccessible in the years following World War 2, the area offers a lot for tourists.

I studied a little Russian at university many years ago. It was more for literature comprehension than speaking. I can maybe read a word now, but as to translating it or speaking, I would be hopeless. It's a difficult language to master. I hope your plans come together for a trip next summer and I look forward to reading your hubs.

Chuck Nugent from Tucson, Arizona on July 26, 2019:

This is a fascinating Hub. I enjoyed learning about Josefov and its rich history. The pictures were great also. We are thinking about visiting Europe next summer. My wife has to go to Russia to take care of some business for her parents and we are talking about me joining her some place in Europe afterward for a tour (I don't speak Russian & she ends up having to translate for me). Your Hubs are giving me ideas about places to suggest visiting. I enjoy your Hubs - keep writing you Hubs are great.

Robert Sacchi on July 18, 2019:

The word is definitely getting out about the Czech Republic.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 17, 2019:

Apparently record visitors went to the Czech Republic in 2018. Over 21.3 million visitors went there (twice the Czech population). Germany headed the list with over 2 million, followed by Slovakia with 735,000, Poland 620,000, China 619,000, USA 555,000, Russia 545,000, UK 497,000, South Korea 416,000, Italy 410,000 and Austria 300,000.

Robert Sacchi on July 17, 2019:

A breakdown of visitors by country and where would be interesting.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 16, 2019:

The airport near Brno is used more in the summer for southern holiday destinations. Ostrava's airport is used maily for summer seasonal flights for resorts in the south. The airport at Karlovy Vary mainly deals with flights to and from Russia. Pardubice has a small airport which is mainly used in the summer. As I suspected Prague is by far the busiest airport in the country. None of these other cities were familiar to me.

Robert Sacchi on July 16, 2019:

That makes sense. What Czech cities are near airports?

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 16, 2019:

Thanks Robert. Those are interesting figures. The majority of those visitors will probably visit Prague.

Robert Sacchi on July 15, 2019:

In 2016 the Czech Republic ranked 36th on the list with over 9 million tourists. By comparison UK is 8th with about 34 1/2 million tourists.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 14, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, Robert. It would be interesting to see the statistics of foreign visitors to Prague. We came across a Canadian tour group while we were there. We also noticed a film crew from China filming wedding scenes in the city.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 14, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, Linda. I learned a lot in a short time about the Jewish community in Prague. It was an interesting and emotional trip back in history.

Robert Sacchi on July 14, 2019:

It's good you are spreading the word outside the UK.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on July 14, 2019:

Thank you for sharing the history, architecture and gorgeous photos of Josefov. It's a quite an emotional experience.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 13, 2019:

That's an interesting question. Prague is certainly making up for lost time. Flight times and costs from the UK are reasonable to the Czech capital..

Robert Sacchi on July 13, 2019:

One can only wonder where Prague would be on the tourist map if it hadn't been on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 13, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, RTalloni, our visit to Josefov was a memorable and educational experience. It was not easy to get photos of the children's drawings due to the display covering and by then I had taken so many photos I was tiring a little of my camera. Sometimes I think it's possible to miss out on the present while trying to get pictures to look at in the future.

RTalloni on July 13, 2019:

Thank you for this informative post on Prague's Jewish Quarter and for sharing your beautiful photos with us. Visiting Josefov must have been a moving experience on every level. It is overwhelming to think of the history, but wonderful to see the buildings and records preserved. The children's drawings could be an article all by themselves.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 12, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, Robert. It felt like walking in history. This is the most comprehensive collection of memorabilia to the Jewish community that I have come across in a European city.

Robert Sacchi on July 12, 2019:

Wow, Jewish Quarter covers a large part of Jewish history in Europe in this small area. Thank you for posting.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 09, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, Tina. I visited Venice over 30 years ago and would like to return. It is interesting how many places there are in Europe where there is evidence of Jewish communities going back many years.

Tina Koren from Slovenia on July 09, 2019:

Fascinating. Def on my wish list when I visit Prague. Your trip must have been wonderful. A city of Venice also has a small Jewish ghetto - the first in Europe actually. And an old jewish cemetery (on the island of Lido) I plan to visit next month.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 08, 2019:

Thanks for your comment prasetio30. This was a very interesting article to write. It's also good to be able to make use of the photos I took.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 08, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, Linda. We packed a lot into one afternoon in Josefov. So it has been a helpful exercise for me to go back and write about the experience.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 08, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, Peggy. The Holocaust was a horrific event. The memorial in Prague is a fitting reminder to those who died in such a tragic way. The impact on Jewish communities in Europe was massive. I hope that reminders such as the one in Prague endure that an atrocity on this scale never occurs again.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on July 08, 2019:

This was a great article. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2019:

This is a very moving article with excellent photos. Thank you for taking us back in time and reminding us of the past, Liz.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 08, 2019:

Thanks for sharing your visit to Josefov with us. Those are some amazing photos. It is sobering to think of just how many people perished in concentration camps. It is good that records such as this exist.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 08, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, Pamela. The atmosphere when we visited the Holocaust memorial reminded me of a visit to Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam many years ago. It brings home the tragedy of those terrible years. I also found it a little ironic that the Nazis sought to preserve reminders of the Jewish people that they sought to destroy, by collecting looted Jewish items together in Prague.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 08, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, Mary. We had been in Prague several days before we explored Josefov. It was on the doorstep when we stayed in the InterContinental Hotel, Prague, so it was a good opportunity to explore the area after we checked out.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 08, 2019:

This sounds and looks like an amazing historical tour. Your insightful descriptions and your pictures are amazing, although the description of the inscribed names and the children's drawings are heartbreaking. I did love seeing that type of architecture displayed in your pictures. It is very nice that some of the Jewish heritage has been preserved as so much was destroyed.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 08, 2019:

I missed this when I was in Prague but this could be a great enticement to go back. You have piqued my interest.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 08, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, Bill. Thankfully there has not been a war on such a big scale since WWII. But there have been plenty of atrocities committed globally in the meantime.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2019:

I'm currently watching Ken Burn's "The War." We must never forget the lessons from WW2. Heaven help us if we do.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 08, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, FlourishAnyway. Visiting this area reinforced the horror of the Holocaust for us. I would imagine that as bodies deteriorated more could be buried on top and also the level of the land would probably have been raised as the years went by. It beats me how they ever kept accurate records though.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 08, 2019:

This was an excellent article albeit very sobering, particularly when it comes to the names inscribed and the children’s drawings. I wonder how they managed the practicalities of burying people 12 deep in that cemetery.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 08, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, Lorna. We set about our visit in an ad hoc fashion, ticking the places off on our list as we went. I guess for a thorough historical overview it might be good to take the exhibitions in chronological order.

Lorna Lamon on July 08, 2019:

Wonderful detailed article with lots of interesting facts and tips. I particularly enjoyed reading the history of the Jewish Quarter.