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Josefov (Jewish Quarter), Prague, Czech Republic

Despite being only a fraction of its former self, Prague’s Jewish Quarter comprises the best current complex of Jewish historical monuments in all of Europe. The smallest of Prague’s districts was walled off as a ghetto in 1096, following a pogrom against its inhabitants, who were mainly Jewish immigrants. The ghetto thrived for centuries, giving birth notably to the legend of the Golem around the 16th century. Between 1893 and 1913, however, the district was razed to the ground as part of expansive redevelopment plans, leaving only a few significant buildings as the living testimony of many centuries of Prague Jewish life.

Six synagogues remain from this old settlement, which also includes the Jewish Town Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery, one of the oldest in Europe, dating to the mid-15th century, where more than 100,000 people were laid to rest among just 12,000 graves. It was used as a burial site until 1787. Among the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque tombstones are those of Rabbi Jehuda Löw (1609) and Mordechai Maisel (1601).

The Old-New Synagogue is the oldest preserved synagogue in Central Europe. It was built in the Early Gothic style in the late 13th century and richly adorned by stonework. The inside furnishings (Gothic wrought-iron grill and chandeliers) are originals, as well. To this day, it serves as a house of prayer and the main synagogue of the Prague Jewish community.

Information courtesy of praguewelcome.cz

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