Old Jewish Cemetery
Old Jewish Cemetery is in the Jewish quarter of Prague sometimes known as Josefov – in honor of the emperor Joseph II who gave the the Jewish inhabitants full citizen rights. The Jewish cemetery was founded as early as in the first half of the 15th century. The oldest preserved tombstone marks the grave of the poet and scholar Avigdor Karo, and dates back to 1439. An ancient burial ground called “The Jewish Garden”, was discovered during the archaeological excavations under the surface of the Vladislavova street in the New Town. The number of graves, tombstones, and people buried here have not been determined exactly, due to there being many layers of tombs. However, it has been estimated that there are almost 12,000 tombstones presently visible and as many as 100,000 burials took place here.
The most famous person buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery is the great religious scholar and teacher Judah Loew ben Bezalel, often known as Rabbi Loew, who died in 1609 and who is associated with the legend of the Golem. Among other prominent people buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery is the Mayor of the Jewish Town, Mordechai Maisel who died in 1601, and the renaissance scholar and historian, mathematician and astronomer David Gans who died in 1613. We should also mention scholar and historian Joseph Solomon Delmedigo, as well as rabbi and collector of important Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, David Oppenheim. The last person to be buried in the Old Jewish cemetery was Moses Beck in 1787.
World War II
The worst period in history for Jews and Jewish cemeteries anywhere in the world came with with the Nazi occupation. The Nazis tried to destroy all Jewish cemeteries and even using their tombstones for target practice. Fortunately, Hitler decided that this cemetery had to remain intact, as he was planning to build a Jewish museum in Prague once all the Jews in Europe had been exterminated. As we know, during World War II, Adolf Hitler made every effort to erase of the face of the Earth not only the entire Jewish population, all synagogues, but their old burial grounds as well.
Old Jewish Cemetery is only 20 minutes walk from our hostel, stay with us!