Our Prague tours enrich your visit to the stunning Czech capital! Take in the myriad Prague attractions, and delve the history of Jewish Prague.
Largely undamaged by World War II, Prague is all magic and romance – cobbled streets and gold-tipped spires, stone bridges and historic synagogues, charming old beer halls and dazzling crystal shops. The city center, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, dates back to the 9th century. Embraced by the Vltava River, below the majestic Prague castle, it is one of the most beautiful and pristine Old Towns in all of Europe. Prague also boasts one of the richest and best-known Jewish histories on the continent. Imagine visiting a synagogue built in 1275! The almost mystical Altneuschul is the oldest functioning synagogue in Europe. The nearby old Jewish cemetery provides a wealth of information about this important medieval community. This was the home of Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, aka the Maharal, philosopher and mystic who created the famous Golem. We will visit the world-renowned rabbi’s grave and see where it is said the Golem found his final rest. By the 18th century the city flowered into one of Europe’s most important centers of Jewish life, and more Jews lived here than anywhere else in the world.
During the Jewish emancipation of the 19th century the ghetto was abolished, and Josefov – as the Jewish Quarter was called – became an official city district. It was at this time that Prague’s Jews began to adopt the language and culture of the city’s German-speaking inhabitants. By the early 20th century, German-language Jewish writers and intellectuals like Franz Kafka, Max Brod, and Franz Werfel were producing works that would soon become mainstays of the western literary canon. We will tour Josefov intimately and in the narrow cobbled streets you might begin to understand why Kafka wrote as he did!
All of this came to an abrupt halt with the outbreak of World War II. Josevof was not destroyed as the Nazis had planned to make an “exotic museum of an extinct race” and so kept the Jewish quarter intact, gathering Jewish artifacts from all over central Europe.
By 1950, half of the 15,000 survivors had emigrated to Israel. Those who stayed behind were forced to keep their identity a secret during the Communist years. After the fall of the USSR, Prague’s Jewish community came slowly back to life; the restitution of Jewish property began immediately, synagogues were restored, the Jewish Museum was re-opened, and an educational and cultural center was established. We will see many signs of this Jewish revival which continues to this day, energized by increased involvement from young Jews, many of whom are discovering their heritage for the first time.We warmly invite you for an up-close-and-personal experience of Jewish Prague, past and present!