Jewish Quarter Josefov
Among the places to visit in Prague is Josefov, known as the Jewish Quarter. This area is located between Old Town Square and the Vltava River, in the area where the Kafka Monument is located.
Josefov is a region where Jews residing in many different parts of the city were forcibly evicted from their homes and forced to continue their lives. There was a lot of negative discrimination against Jews. The Roman Emperor Joseph II managed to reduce this discrimination with his reforms. This is why this region is called Josefov.
The entire complex, including the Maisel Synagogue, the Spanish Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue, the Klausen Synagogue, the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Ceremonial Hall, is part of the Jewish Museum. It documents the existence of the race, which began to disappear with World War II, with objects, books, manuscripts and treasures in synagogues in various parts of Bohemia.
The Spanish Synagogue is an important religious building in Josefov. It is called the Spanish Synagogue because the construction of its exterior architecture was inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Spain. The interior architecture of the synagogue is much more fascinating. Stained glass and Islamic motifs are the most popular decorations of the synagogue.
The inside of the synagogue is set up as a museum. Among the historical artifacts on display, there are special areas for Czech Jews. The place of the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia in history is described. Areas are reserved for many famous Jews, including the successful writer Franz Kafka. In a further part of the museum there is a section of silver artifacts made in Bohemia and Moravia, with about 6000 objects.
Another important synagogue is the Maisel Synagogue. It was named Maisel Synagogue because Mordecai Meisel, a philanthropic leader in Prague, provided financial aid. In this synagogue, artifacts of great religious importance such as silver and books brought from various parts of Bohemia are exhibited.
Another synagogue affiliated with the Jewish Museum is the Pinkas Synagogue, which, like the other synagogues, is located in Josefov. The synagogue, which was founded in 1479, has taken its present form with various additions over time. The most important feature of the synagogue is the names written on the walls that you can see when you enter.
This synagogue is a monument dedicated to the Jewish Czechoslovak citizens who were held in the Terezin concentration camp and then sent to different Nazi camps. The names of about 80,000 citizens are written on the walls, listed by the initials of their surnames.
On the upper floor of the Pinkas Synagogue there is a painting exhibition. Jewish children imprisoned in the Terezin camp during World War II painted their fate. These paintings made by children in concentration camps are exhibited in glass showcases. These paintings, drawn by children who witnessed the atrocities committed during the Nazi occupation, are emotionally powerful.
Old Jewish Cemetery
Known as one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe, it was used between the 15th and 18th centuries. Tens of thousands of Jews are buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery. Since the capacity of this cemetery is very low, the graves are stacked on top of each other.
Nazi Germany used the tombstones here for target practice. After all the Jews were killed, Hitler left it untouched so that it could be exhibited as a museum. The cemetery is under the control of the Jewish Museum. You can reach the cemetery from the Pinkas Synagogue.
Some of the tombstones in the cemetery are decorated tombstones. Decorated with musical instruments and animals, the tombstones in the Gothic style also depict professions. A tailor’s scissors are shown, or a writer’s pen to refer to a writer. You can see people visiting the cemetery and leaving prayers written on small pieces of paper.
Built in the 17th century, the baroque building is located just outside the Old Jewish Cemetery. The synagogue, which aims to convey Jewish traditions and daily life style to the visitors, is named with the plural of the German word for small because it consists of three small buildings.
The Ceremonial Hall, located next to the Klausen Synagogue, was used from the 16th century until World War I and was used for rituals such as washing the dead. Today it is used as an exhibition hall with artifacts from Bohemia.
While passing between the synagogues, you will see the monument of the writer Franz Kafka on one of the streets you pass. We recommend you to see the Franz Kafka Monument, located on the street next to the Spanish Synagogue. Franz Kafka lived in this neighborhood as a Jew. However, Franz Kafka died in the early 20th century and was buried elsewhere, not in the Jewish cemetery, which was closed in the 18th century.
What is the entrance fee to the Jewish Quarter synagogues?
If you want to visit all the synagogues, it makes the most sense to buy a combined ticket. For 480 CZK you can enter all 7 areas. It is worth mentioning that the total price will be about twice as much as the combined ticket price when you enter all these areas individually. If you have a Prague Card, all entrances are free. If you want to take photos, you need to make payment.
If you start your tour from Staromestska metro stop, you should start at Maisel Synagogue and leave the Spanish Synagogue for last. If you are coming from the Old Town side, you should see the Spanish Synagogue first. You can swap the Spanish Synagogue and Maisel Synagogue according to your route.