|The Jewish Quarter (Josefov) in Prague is located between the Old Town Square and the Vltava River.|
The torrid history of the former Jewish Ghetto began in 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, ever more people crowded in to the quarter.
To add to this, inhabitants of the ghetto were forced to endure structural changes at the whim of the emperor or whichever ruler exercised control over them. The latest occurred in 1893-1913, when a number of buildings were flattened and the layout of the streets was remodelled.
Fortunately, most significant historical buildings were saved from destruction, and 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.
The Jewish Quarter has: six synagogues, including the Spanish Synagogue, Maisel Synagogue and the Old-New Synagogue; the Jewish Ceremonial Hall; and the most remarkable, the Old Jewish Cemetery.
The monuments even survived Nazi occupation in the 20th century; Adolf Hitler wanted to preserve the Jewish Quarter in Prague as a “Museum of an Extinct Race”.
To this end, the Nazis plundered Jewish artefacts from other occupied territories and brought them to Prague to form part of the museum.
Today, the most significant historical monuments in the
Jewish Quarter, all except the Old-New Synagogue, form the Jewish Museum in Prague.
You can visit the Jewish Museum by either purchasing a self-guided ticket or booking a Jewish Quarter Tour.
The Old-New Synagogue requires a separate ticket, which you can buy on the day, or if you are on a tour the guide can arrange it.
The Jewish Quarter is also the birthplace of the celebrated Bohemian Jewish novelist Franz Kafka, who is commemorated with a statue on Dusni street.------------------------------------------
Note: To discover more about the Jewish Quarter, we highly recommend taking the Jewish Quarter Tour. With such a turbulent history and so many stories attached to the area, it is difficult to overstate how much a guide can bring to your understanding of it.
Other tours that include the Jewish Quarter:
Old Town & Jewish Quarter Tour
Prague Explorer Tour & Boat Trip
Prague City Tour & Boat Trip
Prague Historical Centre And Castle Tour.
Finally, no description of the Jewish Quarter is complete without a mention of Terezin (Theresienstadt), a concentration camp and Jewish ghetto located 60km to the north of Prague. During the Nazi occupation, residents of the Jewish Quarter were transported there, and the Terezin Tour is a sobering excursion to visit it.