The Jewish Quarter in Prague, known as Josefov, is located between the Old Town Square
and the Vltava River
. Its torrid history dates from the 13th century, when Jewish people were ordered to vacate their disparate homes and settle in this one area.
Over the centuries, with Jews banned from living anywhere else in Prague, and with new arrivals expelled from Moravia, Germany, Austria and Spain joining them, more and more people were crowded in.
To add to this, inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter, or the Prague Jewish Ghetto as it also became known, were forced to endure structural changes. The latest took place between 1893-1913, when most houses were flattened and the layout of many of the streets remodelled.
Fortunately, most of the significant historical buildings were saved from destruction, and today they remain a testimony to the history of the Jews in Prague. They form the best preserved complex of historical Jewish monuments in the whole of Europe.
There are six synagogues, including the famous Spanish Synagogue and Old-New Synagogue, plus the Jewish Ceremonial Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery, the most remarkable of its kind in Europe.
The monuments even survived the Nazi occupation in the 20th century. Adolf Hitler himself decided to preserve the Jewish Quarter as a “Museum of an Extinct Race”.
Indeed the Nazis gathered Jewish artefacts from other occupied countries, transporting them to Prague to form part of the museum.
Today, these historical sights, all except the Old-New Synagogue, form what is called the Jewish Museum in Prague. Visitors can gain entry to the museum monuments by purchasing a ticket or by visiting on a guided tour.
The Old-New Synagogue requires a separate ticket. It is the oldest preserved synagogue in Central Europe, built in early Gothic style in the 13th century, and is the main house of prayer for the Jewish community in the present day.
Interestingly, the Jewish Quarter is also the birthplace of the celebrated writer Franz Kafka, who is commemorated with a statue on Dusni Street.-------------------------------------
If the Jewish Quarter interests you, we highly recommend taking the Jewish Quarter Walking Tour, which covers all the sights in the Jewish Museum in Prague. It is difficult to overstate how much a guide can bring to your understanding of the Jewish Quarter. With so many stories attached to it, its history is really quite unique.
Our general Prague tours also include an introduction to the Jewish Quarter in their itinerary:
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour & Boat
Best of Prague Walking Tour
Prague All Inclusive Walking Tour & Boat.
Finally, during the Nazi occupation, many residents of the Jewish Quarter were transported to concentration camps. We offer an excursion to one of these, Terezin, which is located to the north of Prague: Terezin Memorial Tour.