One of the things I really wanted to visit in Prague is the Old Jewish Cemetery, which is part of the Jewish Museum. I really didn’t know what to expect of our visit, but I am so glad we went. When we arrived at the Cemetery, and saw the price to do the whole museum, I grabbed us tickets to see everything. It was amazing, y’all. As someone who loves to take photographs, it was a little heartbreaking to be told I couldn’t photograph the synagogs. Considering they are still active churches, I understand respecting these holy places, but oh my goodness- I wish I could have shown you what they looked like on the inside.
At one point, Prague had one of the highest Jewish populations in Europe. During WWI, Hitler destroyed most of the synagogs in Europe as he murdered the people. Most of the Jewish residents were sent away to concentration camps (80,000 from the states of Bohemia and Moravia alone were killed), but the Jewish quarter of Prague was spared destruction because Hitler had plans to turn it into a sick “museum of an extinct race.” Today, it has one of the biggest, most complete collections of Judaic art, artifacts and history in the world.
The cemetery is breathtaking. I know a lot of people don’t like them, but I do. I was actually just talking to a friend about them this week. Old cemeteries are just so full of life. There’s something beautiful about the stones and inscriptions and stories. I love to visit them, and take a moment to remember the people behind the stones. This particular cemetery was more haunting then beautiful because of the sad history behind it- but it’s still a place I am very, very glad we were able to visit and take in.
The oldest stone here dates all the way back to 1439 (belonging to poet/scholar Avigdor Karo) and has almost 12,000 stones. However, there are more like 100,000 people laid to rest here, because back then, the Jewish population wasn’t allowed to bury their dead outside the ghetto. People are buried up to 10 deep, and the stones are literally placed one on top of the next. Walking through it really just stops your heart.
The rest of the museum was incredibly interesting. I could have spent all day reading about the Jewish faith, and their traditions. If you want to take a peek at the Synagogs, head to the museums website where they have pictures and information. Beautiful stuff!
If you’re headed to Prague: Make sure you visit the Jewish Museum! To take photographs in the Cemetery, you’ll have to pay a small fee (40 Czech Koruna). You’ll need head coverings for your whole party to wear out of respect (although, it appears they did not stop anyone from entering, there were signs asking for compliance). I did bring my 2 year old, and as long as your children are closely supervised it is a kid-friendly stop. It’s right in the middle of the old town area, so within walking distance of all the major sites, and the signs are in English. Don’t miss it!