The Jewish Quarter (Josefov)

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Bohemian Garnet – history and present
September 17, 2016

The Jewish Quarter (Josefov)

The Jewish Quarter (Josefov)

Jewish quarter in Prague was formerly the Jewish ghetto of the town. It is completely surrounded by Old Town.

The quarter is often represented by the flag of Prague’s Jewish community, a yellow Magen David (Star of David) on a red field.

Prague’s Jewish Quarter was originally located in the Castle District but by the 1200s had spread to the Josefov area and was for centuries regarded as a slum.

Its transformation into one of the city’s most important and interesting districts took place in the late 1800s when large sections were demolished to make way for Art Nouveau apartment buildings.


Jewish quarter / Historical sites:

  • Franz Kafka’s birthplace
  • High Synagogue: 16th-century synagogue
    • It was financed by Mordechai Maisel, and it was finished in 1568, the same year as the Jewish Town Hall
    • Probably it was modelled after High Synagogue, Kraków which was built in 1556 in Poland. The house was designed by P. Roder in Renaissance style
    • It was designed as a preaching place for councilors of Jewish town hall. In the center there were bimah, surrounded by seats.
  • Jewish Town Hall: 18th-century rococo town hall
    • It was constructed adjacent to the Old New Synagogue on the corner of Maiselova and Červená Ulice in 1586 in Renaissance style under the sponsorship of Mayor Mordechai Maisel.
    • The building was the main meeting house of the local Jewish community. It is perhaps best known for its two clocks, one on a tower with Roman numeral markings, the other, lower, has Hebrew numerals, which are the same as letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The Hebrew numerals begin with aleph and continue counterclockwise around the clock dial.
  • Klaus Synagogue: 16th-century baroque synagogue
    • It’s nowadays the largest synagogue in the former Prague Jewish ghetto and also a single example of an early Baroque synagogue in the area.
    • Today the synagogue is administered by the Jewish Museum in Prague.
  • Maisel Synagogue: 16th-century synagogue destroyed by fire, now used as a museum
    • It’s one of the historical monuments of the former Prague Jewish Ghetto.
    • It was built at the end of the 16th century which is considered to be the golden age of the ghetto.
  • Pinkas Synagogue: 16th-century synagogue, now a memorial to Holocaust victims
    • is the second oldest surviving synagogue in Prague. Its origins are connected with the Horowitz family, a renowned Jewish family in Prague.
    • Today, the synagogue is administered by the Jewish Museum in Prague and commemorates about 78,000 Czech Jewish victims of the Shoah.
  • Spanish Synagogue: 19th-century synagogue with Moorish interior
    • is the newest synagogue in the Jewish Town, yet paradoxically, it was built at the place of the presumably oldest synagogue, Old School (also known as Altshul).
    • The synagogue is built in Moorish Revival Style. Only a little park with a modern statue of famous Prague writer Franz Kafka (by Jaroslav Róna) lies between it and the church of St Spirit.
  • Old Jewish Cemeter: 15th- to 18th-century cemetery. Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish cemetery.
    • It’s the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe and one of the most important Jewish historical monuments in Prague.
    • It served its purpose from the first half of 15th century till 1786
  • Old New Synagogue: 13th-century Gothic synagogue
    • It’s Europe’s oldest active synagogue.
    • It is also the oldest surviving medieval synagogue of twin-nave design.
  • Jewish Ceremonial Hall: 20th-century neo-renaissance hall
    • Originally used as a ceremonial hall and mortuary it now forms part of The Jewish Museum of Prague holding exhibitions relating to Jewish history.


Opening hours:

  • Monday – Saturday from 9.00 to 16.30



  • Maisel Synagogue, Pinkas Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetery, Klausen Synagogue, Ceremonial Hall, Spanish Synagogue, Old-New Synagogue + temporary exhibitions in the Robert Guttmann Gallery
    • full admission: 480KC
    • reduced admission: 320KC
  • Maisel Synagogue, Pinkas Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetery, Klausen Synagogue, Ceremonial Hall, Spanish Synagogu + temporary exhibitions in the Robert Guttmann Gallery
    • full admission: 300KC
    • reduced admission: 200KC
  • Old-New Synagogue
    • full admission: 200KC
    • reduced admission: 140KC

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