Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague

Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague

The Old Jewish Cemetery of Prague is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and one of the most important Jewish historical monuments in the city. It served its purpose from the first half of the 15th century until 1786. During that period, renowned personalities of the local Jewish community were buried here, including rabbi Jehuda Liva ben Becalel – Maharal (ca. 1526–1609), businessman Mordecai Meisel (1528–1601), historian David Gans (ca. 1541–1613) and rabbi David Oppenheim (1664–1736).

There are two kinds of burial monuments (Hebrew: matzevot) found in the cemetery. The older type is a slab of wood or stone, basically rectangular, but with various endings at the top. Tumba (or ohel – Hebrew for “tent”), resembling a little house, appeared later, during the Baroque times, and is generally more representative than the slab tombstones. The tumbas mark the graves of Maharal and Mordecai Maisel, among many others. They do not contain the actual remains; the latter are buried underneath, in the ground.

The earliest gravestones in the cemetery were plain, but very soon the ornaments – such as pilasters, volutes, false portals, etc. – started to appear. The most decorated gravestones originated in the 17th century. Regardless of decoration, though, each gravestone carries Hebrew inscriptions indicating the name of the deceased along with the date of his/her death or burial. Copious praise of the person's virtues appeared beside the brief eulogy ("of blessed memory") during the Renaissance period. From the 16th century onward, the gravestones featured symbols, hinting at the life, character, name or profession of the deceased.

Today, the Old Jewish Cemetery is administered by the Jewish Museum of Prague. It also appeared in Umberto Eco's The Prague Cemetery novel, which is named after it.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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Old Jewish Cemetery on Map

Sight Name: Old Jewish Cemetery
Sight Location: Prague, Czech Republic (See walking tours in Prague)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Prague, Czech Republic

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