Prague Jewish Town

Charming Prague Hotels | 1. 7. 2015

Old Town

Prague Jewish Town, established in locations between the Charles Bridge, river Vltava and the Old Town Square, was the most important Jewish communities in the Czech lands. The original settlement (dated back to 10th century) has developed in to the Jewish Quarter with its own government and judiciary. The Jewish Quarter of Prague was included in Prague city in 1850 and in memory of Emperor Joseph II. was called Josefov.
The importance of Jewish Town
Although the Prague Jews had to be locked in the ghetto, limit their contact with Christians only for trade and sign their clothes, prospered and attracted many immigrants from all over Europe. The Jewish Quarter in Prague at this time became the largest Jewish settlement in Europe; economic and cultural center. Prague Jews owed ​​mainly to Czech rulers who give them a favorable loan provided a number of privileges and protection. Testament to the high position of the municipality was the construction of the synagogue in the last third of the 13th century which made ​​masons of royal workshop. Today it is the oldest preserved synagogue in Europe and still serves spiritual purposes. The same period also includes the development of the Academy Judaeorum; kind of unprecedented Christian University.
Repression of Jews in Prague
Over time the Prague Jews had to face repression and discrimination from Christians again. At Easter in 1389 the ghetto, then was numbering about. 3,000 inhabitants; became a victim of the great pogrom in which most of the people were murdered and the ghetto was burned down. One of the few who survived, was a physician and later Rabbi Avigdor Kara, who composed a dirge memory of the event, read out today during Yom Kippur. Avigdor Kara gravestone is the oldest preserved tombstone in the Jewish cemetery, founded in the early 15th century.
Jews restored the ghetto soon but still had to face repression from the surrounding population.
Old Town Residents wanted the Jews were expelled from Prague, with reference to their economic competition for Christians. This has almost succeeded in 40 and 50 the 16th century, when Jews were expelled even from across the country. But soon the years of decline were to be replaced by the Golden Age.
The Golden Age of the Jews
The reign of Rudolf II at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries was the Golden Age of the Jews. The Jewish Quarter has returned to the economic and cultural prosperity and the Jewish privileges were confirmed. The number of inhabitants increased and a lot was built.
The Maisel Synagogue, Pinkas, and High were built at that time same as the Hall and many other private and public buildings. With this period is linked many personalities of Jewish culture and science, including chronicler David Gans, Rabbi Yehudah ben Bezalel Livi called Loew (known as the creator of the legendary Golem), the richest man of Prague, patron and builder of the ghetto, Mordechai Maisel, astronomer Joseph and Jacob Solomon Delmedigo Bassevi. All of them are buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery. Strong and populous ghetto became the capital of the Diaspora, and was called the Em Be Yisrael. The Prague ghetto reaches its peak and began a gradual decline. During the 17th century was vitiated by an epidemic of plague.  The quarter grew up again soon, but in the 18th century had to face the state policy of the anti-Semitism.
Urban renewal of the Jewish city in the 19th and 20th centuries
During the 19th century the Jewish Quarter began to deteriorate rapidly and has become a haven for criminals. That is why the Prague City Hall in the 90 of the 19th century, despite the opposition of the professional public, decided to redevelop almost the entire ghetto. Prague lost its unique architectural complex. It was demolished a number of synagogues, private homes and palaces. The Old Cemetery in Prague, the Baroque town hall and six synagogues (Old-New, Klaus, Pinkas, Maisel, Spanish, and High) were survived until today. But even this mere fraction that left, is still one of the most precious Jewish sights in Europe.
The Jewish Museum in Prague
In 1906 was founded the Jewish Museum, which was given the task to save the historic and artistic monuments from demolished houses and synagogues. Prague\\\'s Jewish Museum is next to Jerusalem\\\'s most important.
Find more about Jewish Museum.

Old-New Synagogue
is the oldest preserved synagogue in Central Europe. It was built in the end of the 13th century as a simple two-aisle Gothic building. However, the current appearance of the synagogue is the result of the Neo-Gothic reconstruction made by architect Josef Mocker in the 80 of the 19th century. Religious services are still held here today.
Find more about Old-New Synagogue.

Jewish Town Hall and adjacent High Synagogue
date back to the Renaissance period. Jewish Town Hall now serves as the headquarters of the Jewish community. The building is notable primarily for special clock with Hebrew numerals and hands successive in the opposite direction. High Synagogue was originally used by members of the city council as a prayer. Its name was derived from the prayer room, located on the first floor.
Maisel Synagogue
built in the late Renaissance style as a private chapel of Mardechaie Maisel. In the past the Synagogue was twice seriously damaged by fire (in 1689 and 1754) – until this happened it was undoubtedly the largest synagogue in Prague. The current Neo-Gothic reconstruction look received in 1893-1905. The exhibition of the Jewish Museum about the history of Jews in Bohemia and Moravia was placed here.
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Pinkas Synagogue
the architectural design is the interconnection of Gothic and Renaissance. During the subsequent reconstruction the synagogue became to be the Holocaust Memorial - within its walls were inscribed names of 80,000 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia, who died in concentration camps during the Second World War.
More about Pinkas Synagogue.
Old Jewish Cemetery
is a very impressive thanks to the countless tombstones concentrated in such a small space. The cemetery was founded in the early 15th century and served its purpose until 1787. The oldest legible tombstone (Rabbi Avigdor Kara) dates from 1439.
Find more about Old Jewish Cemetery.
Klausen Synagogue
is located behind the Old Jewish cemetery. Original design of the buildings was also funded by Mordechaiem Maisel. In 1689, unfortunately, all burned to the ground. The synagogue gained its current appearance during the ongoing adaptation in the 19th century.
Find more about Klausen Synagogue.
Spanish Synagogue
was built in the Moorish style - designed by architect Ignac Ulmann and Josef Niklas - in the years 1867-1868. An exhibition dedicated to the history of the Jews in the Czech lands was placed here.
Find more about Spanish Synagogue.

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