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Jewish Museum in Prague – Old Jewish Cemetery (Židovské muzeum – Starý židovský hřbitov)

The cemetery was founded in the first half of the 15th century. Burials took place here until 1787. The most important person buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery is undoubtedly the great religious scholar and teacher Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, known as Rabbi Löw (d. 1609), with whom is associated with the legend of the artificial creature – the golem.

  • Monuments & Architecture
  • cemetery
  • synagogue/Jewish heritage
  • Arts & Entertainment

Opening hours

    • November – March
    • Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun
    • 09.00 – 16.30
    • April – October
    • Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun
    • 09.00 – 18.00

Closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays.

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Practical information

The extensive collection of Judaica, including 40,000 artefacts, 100,000 books, and extensive archives of Jewish communities, is unique not only for its size, but especially the fact that they come from one coherent territory - from Bohemia and Moravia. As a whole, it gives a complete picture of the life and history of Jews in this region. The museum is housed in Prague's synagogues and other Jewish monuments.


JEWISH MUSEUM SITES IN PRAGUE:

Robert Guttmann Gallery

  • short exhibitions focusing on Jewish history, life, art and also Jewish monuments in the Czech Republic

 

Klausen Synagogue

  • the biggest synagogue in Prague, permanent exhibition: Jewish Customs and Traditions 

Maisel Synagogue

  • permanent exhibition: Jews in the Bohemian Lands, 10th – 18th Century

 

Ceremonial Hall

  • exhibition devoted to Jewish medicine and Prague Burial Society

 

Pinkas Synagogue

  • Memorial to the Bohemian and Moravian Victims of Shoah; permanent exhibition: Children´s Drawings from the Terezin Ghetto

 

Spanish Synagogue

  • Synagogue Silver from Bohemia and Moravia
  • History of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia in the 19th – 20th Century
  • venue for concerts (classical music)

 

Old Jewish Cemetery

  • it was founded in the 15th century, several renowned personalities were buried here (Rabbi Loew, Avigdor Kara, Aaron Horowitz, Mordecai Maisel, David Gans, Rabbi David Oppenheim)

  

Most of the sites are included in some of the museum tours; one cannot visit them separately.

 

P R A G U E   J E W I S H   T O W N

incl.: Maisel Synagogue, Pinkas Synagogue, Klausen Synagogue, Spanish Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetery, Ceremonial Hall, Robert Guttmann Gallery, Old New Synagogue

  • Adults: CZK 500
  • Children 6-15, students under 26: CZK 350
  • Disability card holders accompanied by a helper: CZK 85
  • Children under 6: free
  • Family ticket (2 adults and up to 4 children) – adults: CZK 500, every child (6-15): CZK 160

 

J E W I S H   M U S E U M   I N   P R A G U E

incl.: Maisel Synagogue, Pinkas Synagogue, Klausen Synagogue, Spanish Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetery, Ceremonial Hall, Robert Guttmann Gallery

  • Adults: CZK 350
  • Children 6-15, students under 26: CZK 250
  • Disability card holders accompanied by a helper: CZK 50
  • Children under 6: free
  • Family ticket (2 adults and up to 4 children) – adults: CZK 350, every child (6-15): CZK 100

 

O L D   N E W   S Y N A G O G U E

The synagogue is overseen by the Prague Jewish Community.

  • Adults: CZK 200
  • Children 6-15, students under 26: CZK 140
  • Disability card holders accompanied by a helper: CZK 35
  • Children under 6: free
  • Family ticket (2 adults and up to 4 children) – adults: CZK 200, every child (6-15): CZK 100

 

R O B E R T   G U T T M A N N   G A L L E R Y

  • Adults: CZK 50
  • Children 6-15, students under 26: CZK 30
  • Children under 6: free

 

Tickets are valid for 7 days. Each site can be visited once.

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Contacts

  • Jewish Museum in Prague – Old Jewish Cemetery (Židovské muzeum – Starý židovský hřbitov)
  • Široká 3
  • 110 00 Praha 1- Josefov
  • +420222749211

Object history

Old Jewish Cemetery

It is the third known Jewish burial place in the Prague’s territory. The oldest Jewish cemetery in Prague was probably in place of today’s Míšeňská Street (some authors believe it was in Újezd). The second medieval Jewish cemetery (called Jewish Garden) was in place of the later New Town by the Vyšehrad path. It was probably functional from the 13th century until the year 1478, when Vladislav II abolished the burial place, being pressed by the New Town citizens to do so. Fragments of tomb stones with years from the 2nd half of the 14th century were found during the construction of the Burgess meeting hall (Měšťanská beseda) in Vladislavova Street in 1866, and they were moved to the Old Jewish Cemetery.

This cemetery was probably established at the turn of the 14th and the 15th centuries. The oldest preserved tombstone is from 1439. The cemetery was extended several times via buying out the neighbouring land plots. Burial services were abolished in 1787, when a decree of Joseph II prohibited utilization of burial places inside the inhabited parts of the town. The main Jewish burial place was then transferred to the former plague cemetery in Žižkov. During the sanitization of Josefov in 1903, the Jewish community was forced to yield a part of the cemetery to the construction of a new road (today’s 17th November Street). Exhumed remains were buried in another part of the cemetery, on a Nefel mound in front of the Klausen Synagogue, where small children younger than 1 month were buried from the beginning of the 18th century. During the sanitization, the burial society had a new ceremonial hall built according to a project of architect J. Gerstl in a new-Romanic style, which served its purpose only until the beginning of the 1920s.

There are more than 12,000 tomb stones in the Old Jewish Cemetery, yet there are many more remains buried here. Many tombstones fell in the lower layers, and other, namely the wooden ones, were destroyed over time. Because the religious habit prohibits the Jews from abolishing old funerals, and the land plot was too small to meet the needs, more and more layers of new earth was brought to the cemetery, and older tombstones used to be elevated into higher level, until there were up to 12 layers and many places are characteristic for piles of stone tombstones from different centuries right next to each other. For centuries, the cemetery has been administered by the Prague Burial Society, which has also started to process the tombstone inscriptions systematically.

At the turn of the 16th and the 17th centuries, plastic symbols and emblems of families, names, statuses and occupations begin to appear on the originally simple tombstones. The Baroque era is often marked by the occurrence of some kind of a quadrilateral tumba (small house). Prague is the only place in Europe with so many of these preserved. One of the Renaissance-Baroque sarcophagi covers the tomb of the Prague ghetto’s most significant thinker and the Talmudian school rector, rabbi Jehuda Löw. There is a Renaissance tumba of the Prague ghetto Maecenas and the primas of the Prague Jewish Community Mordechai Maisel. Many tombstones contain symbols stemming from the Jewish tradition, such as a bunch of grapes (symbol of fertility and wisdom), a moneybox (symbol of charity), or the hexagram star of David. The origin and the family of the deceased can be marked, for example, by blessing hands (the descendants of the temple priests), by a kettle with water or musical instruments (descendants of the helpers from the Levit tribe), or by symbols of animals for personal or family names (lion, wolf, goose, rooster, etc.), and reliefs of tools to symbolize occupation (mortar - pharmacist, scissors - tailor, violin - musician, etc.). The texts often contain different laudations and other interesting data the deceased, besides the basic data. Date of death or of the funeral is sometimes expressed via the so called chronosticha (Hebrew expresses numbers by letters according to their position in the alphabet) according to the Jewish era, which is 3760 years behind the classical era.

There are maples, ash trees, locust trees and elderberries growing in the cemetery.

The Old Jewish Cemetery has been a National Cultural Monument since 1995.

 

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Information source: Židovské muzeum v Praze