Friday, December 09, 2005

Prague Jewish Quarter

Today I wandered through the old Jewish quarter of Prague. There's a lot of history here. The first jews came to Prague just over 1,000 years ago. There are a couple of synagogues which have a history of the Jewish people in Prague and the Czech country.
Maisel Synagogue
This is Maisel Synagogue, which contains a lot of historical documents and artifacts.
Spanish Synagogue
The Spanish Synagogue was built in the 19th century. During WWII, confiscated Jewish possessions were stored here, with an eventual goal of building a museum of the exterminated Jewish race.
Prague Jewish Cemetary
The Pinkas Synagogue, from the 15th centry, seen here behind the cemetary, now contains inscriptions of all of the Czech Jews killed in the Nazi concentration camps (77,297 names). The communists erased the names, then after 1989 they were re-written, then the floods damaged them, and now they've been rewritten yet again.
New Old Synagogue
The Old-New Synagogue was built in the 13th century.
Prague Jewish Cemetary
The cemetary is amazing. The Jews were only allowed to bury their dead in this one area, so they had to keep adding layers, and now their are 12 layers. The ground settled, so the tombstones are at all different angles.
The Czech Jews were finally given full rights in the mid 19th century (after about 800 years of persecution, pogroms, and evictions), and in 1897 the ghetto (all but the synagogues and graveyard) was razed and rebuilt in an Art Nouveau style. There were almost no Jews in Prague after WWII (only 10,000 in the whole country survived), and they say there are maybe 1,700 in the entire city at this point.