PRAGUE JEWISH CEMETERY

The Prague Old Jewish Cemetery is a unique cultural monument of world importance and therefore, it is a popular touristic destination. The uniqueness of this cemetery is not just based on its age but more on its look. You will not find just classic graves with tombstones; you will most-likely see a magical jumble of various tombstones. Jews were isolated from the other citizens and because of this; they had their own separate cemetery. The oldest cemeteries were located at the Small Side and the New Town. Later, perhaps at the beginning of the 15th century, the new cemetery was established on the highest place of the Jewish Ghetto. However, it was soon full and there was no space to enlarge it or to build another cemetery. According to Jewish traditions it is forbidden to move the bodies of the deceased, so the problem was solved by putting new layers of ground to bury the newly deceased over the old graves, while the old tombstones were pulled and placed on a new level of the cemetery. This system was used until the burial of the last body of the Mojžíš Lipman Beck, who died in 1787. There are twelve burial layers, around eighty-thousand graves and twelve-hundred tombstones at this cemetery. The oldest tombstone dates from the year 1439 and it belonged to a famous Jewish poet, Avigdor Kar, the author of the elegy, “Všechno to neštěstí” (All the Misery), which describes the horrific Easter pogrom from the 1389. Among others, the famous people buried here are the mathematician and astronomer, David Gans, the Chief Rabbi, the benefactor Mordechai Maisel and the greatest Jewish scholar of the Rudolfine period, Rabbi Löw, the creator of Golem. The tomb of Rabbi Löw is made of pink marble and it is decorated with a sculpture of a lion and it is mostly covered with small pieces of paper, holding wishes that are put under small stone pebbles. The tombstones are often richly decorated and contain basic information about the deceased, Jewish symbols and more often a verse.

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