Exploring Josefov, Prague's Jewish Quarter

Updated on July 12, 2019
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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. | Source

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. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Spanish Synagogue, Prague.Spanish Synagogue interior.Spanish Synagogue from the balcony.Lighting in the Spanish Synagogue.The Organ in the Spanish Synagogue.Looking up inside the Spanish Synagogue.
Spanish Synagogue, Prague.
Spanish Synagogue, Prague. | Source
Spanish Synagogue interior.
Spanish Synagogue interior. | Source
Spanish Synagogue from the balcony.
Spanish Synagogue from the balcony. | Source
Lighting in the Spanish Synagogue.
Lighting in the Spanish Synagogue. | Source
The Organ in the Spanish Synagogue.
The Organ in the Spanish Synagogue. | Source
Looking up inside the Spanish Synagogue.
Looking up inside the Spanish Synagogue. | Source

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. | Source

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, having been plundered from Bohemia and Moravia to place in their museum to a vanished people.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Maisel Synagogue, Prague.Maisel Synagogue exterior.Balcony in Maisel Synagogue.Maisel SynagogueCandlestick in Maisel Synagogue.Maisel Synagogue.
Maisel Synagogue, Prague.
Maisel Synagogue, Prague. | Source
Maisel Synagogue exterior.
Maisel Synagogue exterior. | Source
Balcony in Maisel Synagogue.
Balcony in Maisel Synagogue. | Source
Maisel Synagogue
Maisel Synagogue | Source
Candlestick in Maisel Synagogue.
Candlestick in Maisel Synagogue. | Source
Maisel Synagogue.
Maisel Synagogue. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Old-New Synagogue Prague.Inside the Old-New Synagogue.Chandeliers give light to worshippers.Jewish Standard and cage around the bimah in the Old-New Synagogue.The Ark, Old-New Synagogue.Old-New Synagogue Prague.
Old-New Synagogue Prague.
Old-New Synagogue Prague. | Source
Inside the Old-New Synagogue.
Inside the Old-New Synagogue. | Source
Chandeliers give light to worshippers.
Chandeliers give light to worshippers. | Source
Jewish Standard and cage around the bimah in the Old-New Synagogue.
Jewish Standard and cage around the bimah in the Old-New Synagogue. | Source
The Ark, Old-New Synagogue.
The Ark, Old-New Synagogue. | Source
Old-New Synagogue Prague.
Old-New Synagogue Prague. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Jewish Town Hall, Prague.Hebrew clock on the Jewish Town Hall.Jewish Town Hall, Prague.
Jewish Town Hall, Prague.
Jewish Town Hall, Prague. | Source
Hebrew clock on the Jewish Town Hall.
Hebrew clock on the Jewish Town Hall. | Source
Jewish Town Hall, Prague.
Jewish Town Hall, Prague. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Klausen Synagogue interior.Torah Ark in Klausen Synagogue.The balcony in Klausen Synagogue.View from the balcony.Looking down on the Torah Ark.
Klausen Synagogue interior.
Klausen Synagogue interior. | Source
Torah Ark in Klausen Synagogue.
Torah Ark in Klausen Synagogue. | Source
The balcony in Klausen Synagogue.
The balcony in Klausen Synagogue. | Source
View from the balcony.
View from the balcony. | Source
Looking down on the Torah Ark.
Looking down on the Torah Ark. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ceremonial Hall, Josefov.Inside the Ceremonial Hall, Prague.Ceremonial Hall, Josefov, Prague.View of the Old Jewish Cemetery from the Ceremonial Hall.
Ceremonial Hall, Josefov.
Ceremonial Hall, Josefov. | Source
Inside the Ceremonial Hall, Prague.
Inside the Ceremonial Hall, Prague. | Source
Ceremonial Hall, Josefov, Prague.
Ceremonial Hall, Josefov, Prague. | Source
View of the Old Jewish Cemetery from the Ceremonial Hall.
View of the Old Jewish Cemetery from the Ceremonial Hall. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pinkas Synagogue, Prague.Inside the Pinkas Synagogue, Prague.The walls covered with names.The list of concentration camps.A fitting memorial.
Pinkas Synagogue, Prague.
Pinkas Synagogue, Prague. | Source
Inside the Pinkas Synagogue, Prague.
Inside the Pinkas Synagogue, Prague. | Source
The walls covered with names.
The walls covered with names. | Source
The list of concentration camps.
The list of concentration camps. | Source
A fitting memorial.
A fitting memorial. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague.Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague.Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague.Ceremonial Hall and Klausen Synagogue by the Old Jewish Cemetery.View of the Ceremonial Hall from the Old Jewish Cemetery.
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague.
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague. | Source
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague.
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague. | Source
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague.
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague. | Source
Ceremonial Hall and Klausen Synagogue by the Old Jewish Cemetery.
Ceremonial Hall and Klausen Synagogue by the Old Jewish Cemetery. | Source
View of the Ceremonial Hall from the Old Jewish Cemetery.
View of the Ceremonial Hall from the Old Jewish Cemetery. | Source

Finding Your Way Around Josefov

A
Spanish Synagogue, Josefov.:
Vězeňská 1, 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město, Czechia

get directions

B
Maisel Synagogue, Josefov.:
Maiselova 10, 110 00 Praha 1, Czechia

get directions

C
Old-New Synagogue, Josefov.:
Maiselova 18, 110 01 Praha 1-Staré Město, Czechia

get directions

D
Jewish Town Hall, Josefov.:
Maiselova 250/18, Staré Město, 110 00 Praha 1, Czechia

get directions

E
Klausen Synagogue, Josefov.:
U Starého hřbitova 39/1, Josefov, 110 00 Praha-Praha 1, Czechia

get directions

F
Ceremonial Hall, Josefov.:
U Starého hřbitova 243/3A, 110 00 Praha 1-Josefov, Czechia

get directions

G
Pinkas Synagogue, Josefov.:
Široká 23/3, Josefov, 110 00 Praha-Praha 1, Czechia

get directions

H
Old Jewish Cemetery, Josefov.:
Široká, Staré Město, 110 00 Praha-Praha 1, Czechia

get directions

What Have You Learned About Josefov?

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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) south west 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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Jerusalem Synagogue, Prague.Entrance to Jerusalem Synagogue.Interior of Jerusalem Synagogue.Decorative skylights.Exhibition on the balcony of Jerusalem Synagogue.Front of Jerusalem Synagogue.Moorish interior of Jerusalem Synagogue.Looking down from the balcony of the Jerusalem Synagogue.Colorful interior of Jerusalem Synagogue.Well-lit interior of Jerusalem Synagogue.Moorish façade of the Jerusalem Synagogue.
Jerusalem Synagogue, Prague.
Jerusalem Synagogue, Prague. | Source
Entrance to Jerusalem Synagogue.
Entrance to Jerusalem Synagogue. | Source
Interior of Jerusalem Synagogue.
Interior of Jerusalem Synagogue. | Source
Decorative skylights.
Decorative skylights. | Source
Exhibition on the balcony of Jerusalem Synagogue.
Exhibition on the balcony of Jerusalem Synagogue. | Source
Front of Jerusalem Synagogue.
Front of Jerusalem Synagogue. | Source
Moorish interior of Jerusalem Synagogue.
Moorish interior of Jerusalem Synagogue. | Source
Looking down from the balcony of the Jerusalem Synagogue.
Looking down from the balcony of the Jerusalem Synagogue. | Source
Colorful interior of Jerusalem Synagogue.
Colorful interior of Jerusalem Synagogue. | Source
Well-lit interior of Jerusalem Synagogue.
Well-lit interior of Jerusalem Synagogue. | Source
Moorish façade of the Jerusalem Synagogue.
Moorish façade of the Jerusalem Synagogue. | Source

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 | Source

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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Liz Westwood

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      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        5 days ago

        The word is definitely getting out about the Czech Republic.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        5 days ago from UK

        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 profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        6 days ago

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        6 days ago from UK

        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 profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        7 days ago

        That makes sense. What Czech cities are near airports?

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        7 days ago from UK

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

      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        8 days ago

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        8 days ago from UK

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        8 days ago from UK

        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 profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        9 days ago

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

      • lindacee profile image

        Linda Chechar 

        9 days ago from Arizona

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        10 days ago from UK

        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 profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        10 days ago

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        10 days ago from UK

        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 profile image

        RTalloni 

        10 days ago from the short journey

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        10 days ago from UK

        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 profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        11 days ago

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • profile image

        Tina Koren 

        2 weeks ago from Slovenia

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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 profile image

        prasetio30 

        2 weeks ago from malang-indonesia

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

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        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 W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        2 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

        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.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        2 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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 profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        2 weeks ago from USA

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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 profile image

        Lorna Lamon 

        2 weeks ago

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

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