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THE JEWISH QUARTER

Jewish Quarter - Prague 1

GPS: 50°5'24"N, 14°25'0.83999999999992"E

   It is not possible to define precisely the period when the first Jews came to Prague, but it was definitely sometimes in the deep Middle Ages. At first, they had settled in various placed, particularly in the Lesser Town and in the territory of future New Town and later on near the present Dušní Street at the so-called Old School and around the present Old New Synagogue. And there was the Jewish Quarter formed as well. Prague was an important crossroad of trade routes and the Jews have always been excellent traders and financiers.
   In course of the centuries the Jews in Prague had experienced many tribulations, degradations and periodical bloody pogroms were not rare. During the reign of Empress Maria Theresa they were even expelled out of Prague for several years. In 1781 Emperor Joseph II issued the Edict of Tolerance, which, among others, brought certain freedom of religion to the Jews. The Jewish Quarter was connected to Prague in 1850 and at the same time it was renamed Josefov.
   In 1893 the rehabilitation act was passed, due to which prevailing part of Josefov was demolished. There were kept only several synagogues, the town hall, a former morgue and above all, there has been preserved the Old Jewish Cemetery, which is world-unique.
   The above-mentioned buildings were saved even during the Nazi reign of terror, because they should have been used, as the Nazis planned, as an outdoor museum of the vanished Jewish civilization. They thus brought there the monuments from the destroyed synagogues from all over Bohemia and Moravia.
  Nowadays, the former Jewish Quarter in Prague and its monuments are destinations of tourists from all over the word. Perhaps the most romantic part runs from the Old New Synagogue and the town hall, through U Starého hřbitova Street to the Klaus Synagogue and the former neo-Romanesque morgue from 1905, which rather has the look of a romantic castle. There is also an entrance to the Old Jewish Cemetery.