Not Quite Wordless Wednesday: Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague

DSC_0134We have just returned from a long trip that was bookended by time in Prague and Dachau:  Prague for the first couple of days, followed much later by Dachau on our last day.   I have plenty to say about that–but I need some time and space to get my head around a place like Dachau, or even around the Jewish Quarter of Prague and the history there– so today’s offering is short and mostly visual.  DSC_0145

The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague rises above street level and offers over 10,000 gravestones crowded into a small space.  But there’s more– much more– than meets the eye.  There may be nearly 100,000 graves below this top layer.

These graves date from the 1400’s to the 1700’s, and the graveyard is overcrowded because of the Jewish Community’s enforced isolation in the ghetto here.  There simply wasn’t more space for these graves, so they built up instead of out.   (And this long before the atrocities of World War II.)  While life here was replete with difficulties, it was also abundant with art, tradition, and literature.  The legend of the Golem traces back to Prague, and Franz Kafka (in more recent times) was born in the Jewish Quarter.

The cemetery is haunting, but also beautiful.  Here are a few photos from our visit.

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8 thoughts on “Not Quite Wordless Wednesday: Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague

    1. I agree. We had a whirlwind trip and I didn’t read up as much as I should have–but now I’m making up for that, and I hope a second trip to Prague will be in my future. I loved everything about the city (with the exception of the crowds of tourists).

  1. Haunting and incredible photos. We’ve been to Prague but didn’t get to the cemetery on our visit but my husband visited Dachau during our recent Munich trip – no words really. We also both went to Sachsenhausen when we were staying in Berlin – it was harrowing and draining. I remember going back into Berlin and just being so exhausted by what I’d seen and read. Thanks for sharing your poignant photos.

    1. Thank you for reading! Prague’s Jewish Quarter was beautiful and mysterious and tragic all at once, so “poignant” is a good word to describe it. And, yes, Dachau is a place for which there are no adequate words– the scope of cruelty and tragedy is heartbreaking and mind boggling. I hope to write a post about that visit soon, but it’s hard to articulate the barrage of feelings on that one.

      1. I didn’t go to Dachau as I was still recovering from the flu and not up to it. It had a profound effect on my husband – I was going to ask him to write something on his Dachau visit for the blog but it’s not something I want to push him into – as you say it’s hard to articulate feelings on such an appalling and incomprehensible subject. One thing he did say was how he hadn’t realised how close to the centre of Munich, Dachau was – he thought it was miles away out of town. He found that hard to comprehend – literally on the city’s doorstep.

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