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J
ewish
P
rague
S
piritual
P
rague
Jews began settling in Prague as early as the 11th century, and the magnificent old
synagogues in the area of Prague known as Josefov show that Prague has always
been an important centre of religious and social life for the Jewish Community in
Central Europe.
The
Maisel Synagogue
(1) was
commissioned by a wealthy primas of the
Prague Jewish Community, Mordechai
Maisel, nearly five centuries ago, as was
the largest synagogue in the ghetto, the
Klausen Synagogue
(5). In the
Pinkas
Synagogue
(2), visitors see a very unusual
exhibition – more than 4,000 drawings by
Jewish children who were interned at the
Terezín concentration camp in northern
Bohemia, many of whom died at the hands
of the Nazis. The walls are hand-inscribed
with some 80,000 names of Czech Jews who
perished under the Nazi regime. At the
Old
Jewish Cemetery
(3), among the 12,000
tombstones you will find the grave of Rabbi
Löw, who, according to ancient legend,
created an artificial being – the Golem.
The building of the former
ceremonial
hall
(4) and charnel house was designed
in a pseudo-Romanesque style at the
beginning of the 20th century and is now
an exhibition venue. The oldest and most
beautiful Jewish temple is the
Old-New
Synagogue
(6), which boasts massive brick
gables. According to legend, it is in the attic
here that the fabled Golem is stowed. The
gorgeous
Spanish Synagogue
(7) stands
on the site where Jews from Spain settled
when they were expelled by Queen Isabella
of Castile in the 15th century.
T I P
It is said about Prague native
Franz
Kafka
that nowhere but in Prague
could his novels Metamorphosis, The
Castle and The Trial have originated.
Visit the Café Louvre (Národní 22),
where Kafka used to go and where the
physicist
Albert Einstein
also liked to
stop on his visits to Prague. Do not miss
the Café Slavia, which was frequented
not only by Franz Kafka but later by the
writer
Milan Kundera
.
On the
tombstone of Rabbi Löw
,
tourists leave little notes with secret
wishes. It is said that the rabbi is able
to fulfil the pilgrims’wishes. Recently,
Michelle Obama did this, and you, too,
can try it.
A guided tour of Prague
Prague formed over the centuries as a crossroads of Christian and Jewish cultures.
Dozens of churches, from the Romanesque to modern times, as well as many
celebrated Jewish synagogues, bear silent witness to the city’s rich spiritual life.
T I P
In the Church of Our Lady Victorious you can view a
collection of
gowns
in which the Carmelite Nuns dress the Infant Jesus of Prague
according to liturgical customs.
In May each year, Venetian gondolas and dozens of historic ships with
musicians sail down the Vltava River in the
Midsummer Navalis
,
a beautiful spectacle of lights, music and fireworks in honour of
St. John of Nepomuk.
An important pilgrimage site in Prague is the
Loreto
a complex encompassing the Holy Hut and the pilgrimage
Church of the Nativity of Our Lord. Listen to the unique
carillon that chimes at the top of every hour. A rarity is the
Loreta Treasure, whose most precious object is a monstrance
decorated with 6,222 diamonds.
Pilgrims from all over the world flock to the Church of Our
Lady Victorious (Karmelitská 9) and pray to the
Infant Jesus of
Prague
for protection, healing and help in conceiving a child.
The statuette, which is 47 centimetres high, comes from Spain
and portrays Jesus in benediction.
The Old Jewish Cemetery
Statue of St. John of Nepomuk on the Charles Bridge
The Infant Jesus of Prague
Statue of Franz Kafka in front of the Spanish Synagogue
Prague in the footsteps of
Franz Kafka.
Where did the
famous writer go, where did he
live, and where did he fulfil his
secret aspirations?
Jewish Prague.
What was the old
Jewish ghetto like?The fate of its
locations, residents and prominent
personalities.
C
zech
saints
The most famous is
St. John of Nepomuk
, who
is one of the Czech patrons and is widely known
around the world. He was martyred in 1393
and his body was thrown into the Vltava River
from the Charles Bridge. Statues of St. John of
Nepomuk are a traditional feature of the Czech
countryside; you will recognize them by their
halos with five stars.
The main Czech patron saint and a symbol
of Czech statehood is the Czech prince
St. Wenceslas
, whose monumental equestrian
statue can be seen at the top of Wenceslas
Square.
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