A Walking Tour Of Pragues Jewish Quarter A Fascinating Part Of Town-y580

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One of Pragues key attractions is the Jewish Quarter, the former Jewish ghetto of the city. So on this bright, yet blustery day I strolled from my hotel on Wenceslas Square over to Old Town Square to meet my personal tour guide for the day who would be meeting me for an informative tour of the Jewish Quarter. I met Richard just after 10 am a few steps away from the Astronomical Clock and learned that he is a political science student who also does tours for Prague Walks, one of Pragues most renowned tour guiding .panies. Walking tours with a personal guide are a fantastic way of getting to know this fascinating city. Standing right in the middle of Old Town Square, Richard started talking to me about Franz Kafka, one of Pragues most important personalities and an important connection to Pragues Jewish history. Born in 1883 to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family, Kafkas writings became some of the most important literary works of the 20th century, even though during his lifetime only a few stories were ever published. All of Kafkas famous novels (The Trial, The Castle and Amerika) were published posthumously, a move initiated by his friend Max Brod, who was a famous Czech-Jewish author and the executor of Kafkas will. Brods decision to publish Kafkas work was actually against Kafkas will. The anguished author had actually mandated that his literary works be destroyed upon his death, something that Brod fortunately prevented from happening. Kafkas writings are often dark and mysterious, in great part due to his lifetime battles with anxiety and depression. In 1924, Kafka died of consequences of tuberculosis, not even 41 years old. Richard explained that Kafka often met with members of the The Prague Circle, a secret group of friends and writers, in a building right here on Old Town Square. Kafka came of age during the last stages of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a time that was characterized by an oppressive feeling of government control and surveillance, something that affected Kafka greatly. A little bit further north, on the other side of the stunning Church of Our Lady, is a magnificent Rococo palace that was built by an aristocrat between 1755 and 1765. During Kafkas youth the Goltz-Kinsky Palace was actually a German speaking grammar school while today it hosts collections of the National Gallery. Richard also pointed out that the building is not in line with the other buildings on this side of the square, rather it is protrudes ahead of the other buildings. Apparently, Count Goltz had bribed several councilmen to secure this prominent position, and by the time the other councilmen noticed it, the building was almost finished and the town council did not want to destroy it. In the middle of Old Town Square is a monument to Jan Hus, the 15th century priest and religious reformer who was burned at the stake in 1415 after being accused of heresy. Hus was a key contributor to the Protestant movement and strongly criticized the Catholic Church for its opulence and corruption. The execution of Hus eventually led to the Hussite Wars that lasted from 1420 to about 1434. Hussites were an important force in the Czech lands until the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620, the beginning of the Thirty Years War, when this Bohemian Protestant movement was crushed and Catholicism was restored with force. Twenty seven of the Hussite leaders were executed on Old Town Square, and 27 white crosses can still be seen embedded into the cobble-stones of Pragues main square. The battle for religious freedoms has formed an important part of Pragues history, not just for Protestants but also for Jews. Our actual start to our tour of the Jewish Quarter was a few minutes west of Old Town Square, next to the house where Franz Kafka spent his childhood. Just to the north of this location is the Jewish Quarter, which is a triangular district wedged in between the Vltava River and Old Town. Richard explained that Jewish settlers had lived in the Prague area as early as the 10th century. The first pogrom against Jews was recorded in 1096, and over the years Jews were concentrated in a walled-in ghetto. During the Middle Ages Jews were forced to wear a yellow star to identify them, and they were not allowed to work in agriculture which made many of them enter careers in banking and money-lending. Regulations also required that they live in segregated neighbourhoods called ghettos. Jews experienced much suffering throughout the centuries, and one of the worst pogroms happened in 1389, when 1,500 people were massacred on Easter Sunday. One of the most celebrated figures of Pragues Jewish history is Mordecai Maisel, the Jewish Mayor, who became the financial advisor of Emperor Rudolph II. He built the Jewish Town Hall in 1586 in Renaissance style as well as the Maisel Synagogue which opened in 1592. Both of these buildings still stand today. Around the same time another figure played a critical role in Pragues Jewish Quarter: Rabbi Loew was an important Jewish scholar, mystic and philosopher. Legend says that Rabbi Loew created a golem, a living being, from clay which was intended to protect the Jews from anti-Semitic attacks. Rabbi Loew is immortalized in a statue that adorns the new City Hall of Prague. Habsburg Emperor Josef II improved the living conditions of the Jews with the Toleration Edict of 1781 which allowed for greater religious freedom, and in the mid 1800s the quarter was renamed Josefstadt (German) or Josefov in honour of this emperor. By the late 19th century the hygienic and sanitary conditions in the Jewish Quarter had be.e unbearable, and the municipal authorities decided to demolish the entire area and reconstruct it with new apartment buildings between 1893 and 1912. Only the Jewish Cemetery, the Old Jewish Town Hall and six synagogues were left of the original Jewish Ghetto. As a result of this reconstruction, Prague has one of the most stunning collections of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe, along with Paris and Vienna. Despite recurring anti-semitic events, Prague was a hotbed for Jewish artists and writers in the early 20th century Notable authors included Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Rainer Maria Rilke and Franz Werfel. Many of these writers were German speakers of Jewish background who were strongly assimilated into mainstream culture and did not participate in Jewish religious life. This blossoming of Jewish creativity came to a sudden end in the 1930s when German troops marched into Prague and made the city the capital of the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Almost all of the Jewish inhabitants of this region were transported into the Theresienstadt concentration camp (todays Czech town of Terezin) and later to the Auschwitz extermination camp. Of roughly 82,000 Jews that were deported from the Protectorate, only about 11,200 survived. All over Europe, the Nazis destroyed most Jewish institutions and synagogues, but Hitler decided to leave Pragues Jewish Quarter intact as a museum to an extinct race. This is the reason why Pragues six synagogues and the Jewish cemetery are still in existence today. When survivors returned after the war, they often encountered a hostile environment and difficulties in reclaiming their property. As a result many Czech Jews immigrated to Israel and overseas in the post-year wars. Today the Jewish population in the Czech Republic is small, and the Jewish .munity in Prague only has about 1600 members. Walking west from the 16th century Pinkas Synagogue, which holds a memorial to the martyrs of the Holocaust, we walked west on Maiselova Street towards the Vltava River where we stopped at the Rudolfinum, a classical building that opened in 1884 and today houses the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Richard explained that the building has phenomenal acoustics and is also home to a gallery. Surrounding it is the Museum of Fine Arts, and a department of Charles University, one of Europes oldest universities. A few steps away we stopped at the tall walls of the Jewish Cemetery where there is a small square window that allows you a little peak into the cemetery. Richard indicated that the entire cemetery had to be enclosed by walls and there are very few places where you can catch a glimpse of the cemetery. This little peephole is one of them. The Jewish Cemetery of Prague was founded in 1478 and held burials until 1787. In some cases people had to be buried on top of one another, up to twelve layers deep. In excess of 100,000 people are estimated to have been buried here. More than 12,000 gravestones can still be seen; most of them are difficult to read and they are densely packed on the small plot of land. After a walk around the cemeterys perimeter walls we arrived at the Klausen Synagogue which was .pleted in 1694. This High Baroque structure today houses Hebrew prints and manuscripts and an exhibition of Jewish traditions and customs. The building right next to it is the Ceremonial Hall of the Jewish Burial Society, built in 1906. Richard explained that in the Jewish religion, burials have to take place no later than one day after death. Naturally, the people handling the burials had to be located very close to the cemeteries. A wrought-iron fence between the two buildings allowed for another peek into the Jewish Cemetery. My guide explained that for about $15 you gain access to the Jewish Museum which includes admission to five difference Jewish locations. Souvenir shops line the street beside the cemetery, many of them selling figures of the legendary Golem. Towards the end of this street is the Old-New Synagogue, with its construction date of 1270 the oldest synagogue in all of Europe. This Gothic building has often granted refuge to Jews over the centuries and is still the religious centre for Pragues Jewish .munity. Rabbi Lws chair is an authentic relic used by the 16th century scholar. Religious services have been held every Friday and Saturday at the Old-New Synagogue for more than 700 years. Just south of the Old-New Synagogue is the Jewish Town Hall, built between 1570 and 1577 by Jewish mayor Mordecai Maisel. This meeting hall is still the location of dinners, get-togethers and festivals. Richard pointed out the clock faces on the building: the upper clock face in the tower uses Roman numerals, while the lower clock face on the buildings faade uses Hebrew numerals. The hands of this clock also move in an anti-clockwise direction as Hebrew is read from right to left. In addition to these historic Jewish buildings I was amazed by the outstanding Art Nouveau architecture. Virtually all the buildings feature extensive Art Nouveau decorations and some also have Cubist details. Richard explained that the Jewish Quarter has be.e Pragues most desirable neighbourhood because of its central location and spacious apartments. The High Synagogue is just a few steps south of the Old-New Synagogue and after a short walk we reached one more Jewish prayer house: the Spanish Synagogue was built in the location of the Old School, Pragues first synagogue, and today is a Reform synagogue. It was built in 1868 in the Moorish Revival Style and is the most elaborate of Pragues synagogue buildings. Intricate stucco details on the walls are reminiscent of the Alhambra in Spain. A poster outside illustrated the richly decorated interior of the Spanish Synagogue, referring to it as the most beautiful synagogue in Europe. Immediately next to the Spanish Synagogue is a mysterious statue of Franz Kafka: an oversize male metal figure in a black suit without a head that has a smaller man dressed in a suit sitting on its shoulder. The diminutive man on top is Franz Kafka. This bronze sculpture was created by Czech sculptor Jaroslav Rona and was unveiled in 2003. After this extensive introduction to Jewish history in Prague it was early afternoon and it was definitely time to have lunch. Richard and I headed into another Jewish institution in Pragues Jewish Quarter, the King Solomon Restaurant on Siroka Street, to explore real kosher food. By this time my stomach was growling and I was really looking forward to exploring Pragues Jewish delicacies. 相关的主题文章: