Rob's Jewish history morning in Prague

Prague Travel Blog

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I slept in while Rob got up and went to the Jewish Cemetery.

 

Guest entry by Rob:

It was a warm morning, but not too hot when I left for the Jewish cemetery.  Brian had been before and preferred to sleep late so I was on my own.  It was wonderful to walk through the deserted streets and be able to take in the breathtaking details of all the buildings.  I made way to the cemetery quickly hobbling the whole way from the sever blisters on my feet from the day before. 

When I arrived there was short line to get in but nothing too bad.

  The vendors were setting up their wares outside.  I got my ticket and entered.  I had to wear a loaner yamaka.  First I went through the Pinkas Synagogue.  The synagogue was turned into a Memorial to the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia murdered by the Nazis. On its walls are inscribed the names of the Jewish victims, their personal data, and the names of the communities to which they belonged.  It sad and chilling to see so many names covering the walls and knowing it was only a very small portion of the total sad devastation of the Jewish population of Europe.  Unfortunately, my allergies were in full raging activity.  I was sneezing  uncontrollably and my nose was like a faucet.   I was miserable.  I manage to see some of the art work from children which was part of a special project to raise awareness of the atrocities.

Next I went into the cemetery.  It was in use from the early 15th century (the oldest preserved tombstone, the one of Avigdor Kara, dates back to 1439) until 1787. Its ancestor was a cemetery called "The Jewish Garden", which was found in archaeological excavations under the Vladislavova street, New Town.  The numbers of grave stones and numbers of people buried there are uncertain, because there are layers of tombs. However, it has been estimated that there are approximately 12,000 tombstones presently visible and there may be as many as 100,000 burials in all.  Walking though was the cemetery was so startling.  The tombstones were so close together and some so ancient they were almost worn away.  Many close to the path had small stones setting on top of them in remembrance.

  I was so fortunate that I was early and almost no one was there.  I was able to really just take in the reality of it all. 

After I exited the cemetery, I went through the Ceremonial Hall.  The building housed the former Ceremonial Hall and mortuary of the Old Jewish Cemetery.  It was built in a pseudo-Romanesque style in 1911-12 to a design by architect J. Gerstl.  As part of the Jewish Museum, the Ceremonial Hall of the Prague Burial Society Hevrah Kaddishah (founded in 1564) later became an exhibition venue.  It has different artifacts and information on how Jewish funeral and grieving were carried out.  It was interesting, but my allergies were beginning to act up again so I headed back to the room to take drugs.

By the time he had returned I was up and showered.

We went to a vegetarian restaurant for lunch. It was cafeteria style and had a decent number of options. Several of the entrees were with tofu, which limited my choices as I do not like it. Everything was fresh and reasonably priced. I had a strange earthy/nutty dessert, not bad.

 

We returned to the front of the hotel and await the tour bus. A few minutes after it was due to arrive, a lady asked if we were waiting. She said that the tour time was incorrect and that we should follow her to the meeting point in the center pedestrian zone, near Wenselas Square. As we walked we chatted with her, very personable. She told us where we could find a pharmacy for band-aids for Rob’s feet. We had been told that none were open. She told us where one was.

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Pizza sounded nice so we stopped at a pizzeria on the Town Square. It was a bit overpriced but was tasty and the service was fast.

On walk back, we stopped in at a shop selling locally made goods. We bought a few decorated eggs to add to our collection. We also found small wooden egg cups to display the eggs in. We have many eggs from our travels and they will now have a way to be displayed…yeah!

We returned to the room and had a rest. It continued to be blisteringly hot and even with the windows open and the fan on, it felt like a convection oven. I decided not to go back out.

Rob returned to the shop and bought us a doll dressed in the traditional dress to add to our others, he’s so sweet. We also picked up some nice bath products made with salts and local wine for a friend.

We settled in early and tried to get some rest. We had an early flight, home.

I had hoped for more on this trip but, that was my fault. Prague had lived up to my expectations again. I was able to see a bit more of it and the surrounding area. I returned to spots that I had enjoyed and fortunately, I still enjoyed them. The views can never disappoint…..and didn’t this time, either.

My love affair with Prague, continues. Who knows, it may be home, someday.

 

 

Prague
photo by: vulindlela