JEWISH QUARTER (JOSEFOV)
Named after the emperor Josef II, whose reforms helped to ease living conditions
for the Jewish, the Jewish Quarter contains the remains of Prague's former Jewish
ghetto. As many of the Jewish died during the WWII and were forced by the communist
regime to leave the country, the current Prague community numbers 5000 - 6000
people. There are two figures synonymous with this part of the city, Franz Kafka
(1883 - 1924) and the mystical homunculus Golem created by Jehuda ben Bezalel,
also known as Rabi Löw.
Old Jewish Cemetery (Starý zidovsky hrbitov)
Founded in 1478, it is Europe's oldest surviving Jewish cemetery. People had
to be buried on top of each other because of lack of space. There are about
12 layers and over 12,000 gravestones. 100,000 people are thought to have been
buried here; the last one was Moses Beck in 1787. The most prominent graves
are those of Mordechai Maisel and Rabi Löw
Pinkas Synagogue (Pinkasova Synagóga)
Founded in 1479 by Rabbi Pinkas this synagogue was rebuilt many times over the
centuries. There is a gallery for women added in the early 17th century. After
the WWII it has served as a memorial to all the 77,297 Jewish Czechoslowak victims
of the Nazis. Their names are inscribed on the walls. There is also a collection
of paintings and drawings by children held in the Terezín concentration
camp during WWII.
Klausen Synagogue (Klausová synagóga)
This Baroque synagogue was completed in 1694. There is a good exhibition of
Hebrew prints and manuscripts, an exhibition of Jewish traditions and customs
and also drawings of children from the Terezín concentration camp.
Old-New Synagogue (Staronová synagóga)
Built around 1270, it is the oldest working synagogue in Europe and one of Prague's
earliest Gothic buildings. On the eastern wall is the Holy Ark in which the
Torah scrolls are kept, on the walls are Hebrew biblical abbreviations.
High Synagogue (Vysoká synagoga)
So called because its prayer hall is on the first floor, this synagogue was
built in the 16th century and financed by Mordechai Maisel, mayor of the Jewish
Town. There is an exhibition of Torah mantles, curtains, silver ornaments and
also a Jewish museum shop on the ground floor.
Jewish Town Hall (idovská radnice)
This synagogue was built by Maisel in 1586; its rococo facade was added in the
18 century. There is a clock tower with Hebrew figures whose hands run backwards
because Hebrew reads from right to left. Except the Kosher Eatery it is closed
to the public.
Maisel Synagogue (Maiselova synagoga)
Built by Maisel the original Renaissance building was a victim of the fire in
1689. A new neo-Gothic synagogue has been built in its place.
Since the 1960s it has housed a fascinating collection of Jewish silver, textiles,
prints and books, most of them brought to Prague by the Nazis with the intention
of establishing a museum of vanished people.
Church of the Holy Ghost (Kostel sv. Ducha)
It was built in the mid-14th century as a part of a convent of Benedictine nuns.
The church was destroyed in 1420 during the Husite Wars and badly damaged by
the fire of 1689. The furnishings are mainly Baroque. Inside the church there
is a statue of St Ann and busts of St Wenceslas and St Adalbert, in front of
the church stands a stone statue of St John Nepomuk.
Spanish Synagogue (panilská synagóga)
Built in 1868 the Spanish synagogue was named after its striking Moorish interior.
There is an exhibition showing the life of the Jews in the Czech Republic from
emancipation to the present day.
St Agnes's Convent (Kláter sv. Aneky)
The convent was founded in 1234 by Agnes, a sister of King Wenceslas I. In the1230s
it was a double monastery of the female Poor Clares and the male Minorites.
There are two churches in the convent: the St Salvator Church where the tomb
of St Agnes has been found and the St Francis Church with the tomb of the King
Wenceslas I, Today, and the convent is used by the National Gallery to display
a collection of European medieval art.
The Rudolfinum (Rudilfinum)
Built between 1876 and 1884 the Rudolfinum is an outstanding example of Czech
Neo-Renaissance style. It was named in honour of Crown Prince Rudolf of Habsburg.
Between the wars it served as the seat of the Czechoslovak parliament, today
it is a home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the Rudolfinum Gallery
where temporary art exhibitions are held.