Prague Travel Guide

 

About Prague - Jewish Town (Josefov)

The history of Jewish Quarter in Prague, known as Josefov, small district by the Old Town within Kaprova, Dlouhá and Kozí streets (or let say, between the Old Town Sqaure and the Vltava river) dates back to the 13th century, when Prague's Jewish community was ordered to move into and settle in the walled ghetto.

The Golden Age of Jewish Prague was the 17th century (especially during the reign of Rudolf II), when the Jewish population topped a third of Prague's entire population. The "ghetto" flourished with intellectual life and economic prosperity.

Jews were expelled from Prague by Austrian Emperor Maria Theresa in 1745, as she accused them with collaboration with the Prussian army. It was a severe blow to the flourishing Jewish community, even if Jews were allowed to return just three years laters.

In 1848 the gates of the Prague ghetto were opened, and the ghetto walls were torn down. The quarter was renamed Josefov in 1850 (in the remembrance of Emperor Joseph II who outlawed all forms of discrimination in 1780).

Vast redevelopment of the area took place between 1893 and 1913. Its present appearance dates mainly from this period, although most of the significant buildings from previous eras were saved including several synagogues.

Do not miss in the Jewish Town

The Old-New Synagogue, the oldest preserved synagogue in Central Europe and built in Gothic, is still used as main house of religious services of Prague's Jewish community, now counting around 6 thousand people. There are other 5 synagogues in the area.

Other sights include Old Jewish Cemetery and the Jewish Town Hall together with the Pařížská Avenue, built after Jewish quarter reconstruction in French Art Noveau style. The Avenue is considered to be a "most expensive Prague's streets".