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Prague/Jewish Town

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The Jewish Town of Prague (Czech: Josefov) is an area near the Old Town.

Understand[edit]

On 15 March 1939, Germany occupied the Czech lands, establishing the so-called Protectorate. At that time 118,000 Jews were living in the Czech lands. This included 30,000 refugees from the mostly-German Sudetenland area in Western Bohemia, the area which gave the Germans a convenient excuse to intervene in Czechoslovakia's domestic affairs after Western diplomats abandoned the country with the Munich Agreement. This agreement, in which Hitler was ceded control of the Sudetenland to hopefully appease his hunger for new lands to the East, is best known for the statement made by England's Prime Minister justifying his position: "Czechoslovakia is a far-away land of people about whom we know nothing." Expendable, in other words. This did not set a good precedent for treatment of the Jews. By 15 March 1945, only 3030 Jews remained in the entire Protectorate (2.5% of the original number). 71,000 Czech and Moravian Jews had been killed in concentration camps alone, not to mention those who were passively killed by diseases and hunger in such "model" camps as Terezin (Theresienstadt) to the northwest of Prague.

The Jewish Quarter lends itself to exploration, contemplation and a deeper understanding of what Prague's Jews have endured throughout the centuries. Paradoxically, Hitler is to thank for the Quarter's continued existence - he intended to create an "Exotic Museum of an Extinct Race" here after the end of the war.

Get in[edit]

Jewish Town is just a few steps away from the Staroměstská metro station. [1]

See[edit][add listing]

  • Old-New Synagogue [2]. The name sounds strange for a building from the 13th century but it was originally just 'New' to distinguish it from an even older synagogue. This was replaced by the Spanish Synagogue in the 17th century, when the Old-New Synagogue acquired its current name.
  • Pinkas Synagogue, Siroká ulice 3, +420 222 326 660, [3]. Hours: November - March: 9 - 16:30. April - October: 9 - 18:00. Closed Saturday (Jewish Sabbath) and Jewish holidays. Inside the front door of the Pinkas Synagogue, inscribed in tiny red and black letters on almost every square inch of wallspace are the names of 77,297 Jews who were killed in the war. This visual representation humanizes such a number, attaching names to the statistics. In larger type at the front of the synagogue are the names of the concentration camps in which they perished: Dachau, Mauthausen, Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and others. The second floor houses a moving exhibit of children's art which is smaller than the original exhibit at Terezin but no less sad.  edit
  • Old Jewish Cemetery (Czech: Starý Židovský Hřbitov), Siroká ulice. On the left wall before the entrance is a plaque detailing conservation efforts (which cost 1 million crowns per year). Over 20,000 people are buried in about twelve layers of graves, stacked to save space. Avigdor Kara is the earliest known person buried here - he was a poet who lived to tell about the 1389 pogrom. The reddish, grey and black tombstones are tilted at crazy angles, some covered with moss, some newly cleaned. Walking along the path that winds around the perimeter, Rabbi Loew's tombstone is about halfway through. It has a lion on it and a plaque on the wall across from it. Loew is known as the father of the Golem legend in Prague.
  • The Spanish Synagogue, Vězeňská 1. The Spanish Synagogue, so-called because Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain at the end of the 15th century built a previous synagogue on this site, is a wild combination of neo-Renaissance and Moorish-Spain style. Think the Alhambra crossed with a Victorian wallpaper store, with some Islamic geometric and floral flourishes thrown in for good measure. The predominant color is red, which lends a regal aura to the interior, but there are also multiple shades of green and blue. The background behind the altar is blue covered with gold stars, visually implying the intercession of the deity in the holy space of the building, drawing one's eyes upward to the vast ceiling.
  • Church of the Holy Ghost.
  • Klausen Synogogue.
  • Pariska Street.
  • Jewish Town Hall
  • Rudolfinum.
  • Jewish Museum[4]

This is not a single site but consists of four synagogues, the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Memorial Hall - entrance to all being covered by a single ticket. A combined ticket that includes the Old-New Synagogue can be obtained at a considerable extra cost but the interest of the building justifies it.

Do[edit][add listing]

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Chabad Kosher Shelanu Restaurant & Deli- Great Place, 8 Břehová, +420 221 665 141, [5]. Hours: Sun- Thurs:9AM-11PM, Fri: 9AM-3PM - Friday: Sabbath dinner only by reservation, Saturday: Sabbath lunch only by reservation. 110 CZK (About $4)+ per person.  edit
  • King Solomon, Široká 8, +420 2 24 81 87 52 (, fax: +420 2 74 86 46 64), [6]. Hours: Sun. - Thurs.: 12PM-11:20PM (Kitchen closes at 10:30PM), Friday: Sabbath dinner only by reservation, Saturday: Sabbath lunch only by reservation. Kosher restaurant. 550 CZK (€18)+ per person. Credit card payments accepted with a 1,000 CZK minimum charge..  edit
  • Dinitz Kosher Restaurant, Bilkova 12 - Prague 1 (next to the Spanish Synagogue), +420 222 244 000, [7]. 11:30 - 22:00 Shabbat Meals by prepaid reszervations. Middle Eastern specials , in this popular IOsraeli restaurant ofering the best value - Glatt kosher meals in afordable prices highlight is the Famouse Sampler Menu - a Royal feast with many Tapas style plates & mix grilled meat on Skewers business lunch 378czk (15Euro).  edit


Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There are kosher apartments in Prague Jewish quarter, with kosher breakfasts available. The apartments are just few minutes walk to Synagogue and kosher restaurants. You can see details at Prague Jewish guide [8].

There are also several non-kosher hotels in Prague Jewish quarter within walking distance to synagogue and kosher restaurants, where you can get kosher breakfast upon request. For further details see Prague Jewish guide.

  • Bellagio Hotel, U Milosyrdnych 2, tel. +420 221 778 900, [9]. An elegant Italian-style 4 star hotel. All the rooms are equipped with ensuite bathroom, hairdryer, bidet, LCD tv screen, free wi fi connection, safe, minibar, and direct dial phone. The hotel was completely rebuilt from on original residential building during 2002 / 2003.

Stay safe[edit]

Contact[edit]

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