34. Prague...Jewish History

posted Sep 1, 2012, 9:02 AM by Carlie Huberman   [ updated Sep 1, 2012, 9:24 AM ]
I just spent the last three days in Prague, Czech Republic and it was absolutely amazing!  It is one of the those cities that you can just feel the history leaking out of it as you walk around...and its also one of those cities that feels super small and you can walk EVERYWHERE!  I didn't even notice that there was a metro until the last day.  It was great to walk around and see the towering beautiful buildings and learn that this historic moment happend here and that historic moment happened there.  I learned a lot about the different kings that had ruled through the land and it sounds like Prague had a lot of influence over what was happening in Europe throughout a lot of history especially when it came to religious rights.  But for me the coolest part of Prague was absolutely the Jewish Quarter.  I think the fact that I come from North Carolina where there are basically no Jews, I am used to seeing christianity everywhere and never expect to see stores selling Jewish stars or buildings with hebrew on them.  So walking into the Jewish Quarter of Prague was really amazing to me.  Everything around me was part of my personal history.  I have ancestors that were from the old Czechoslovakia even though they were not from the part of it that is still the Czech Republic today.  While I was there I visited many different old Jewish Synagogs including the Spanish Synagog.  The Spanish Synagog is a temple that was built to signify friendship with the Muslims at the time and was built in the style of a mosque.  The entire inside of the temple is covered in mosaics but all of the symbols are Jewish stars and other Jewish symbols.  It was by far the most beautiful temple i have ever seen and one of the coolest places I have been with that combination of culture.  I also went to the Old Jewish Cemetery.  In the last thousand years or so Jews were only allowed to live in the Jewish quarter so they had to thus burry all of their dead in the same place.  Over 60,000 people have been buried in the same small plot of land between two temples and it is one of the most incredible sites.  It is built up almost 10 feet above ground level and is just covered in tombstones. You can see a lot of the pictures i took of it here.  While i was there attached to the cemetery is a synagog that has been turned into a memorial for all of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust from the Czech Republic....all of the walls a covered in names. On my last day there I went up to the Prague Castle which was quite amazing...it is the Largest Medieval Castle still in Europe.  It seemed to be more of a small town that was very well kept up and upper class and totally empty then a castle, but it did give a feeling of a Medieval palace with all of the parts of the palace including the people who worked there having a place. Now if you are worried that I am spending all of my time sight seeing and not having fun I assure thats not true!  First of all sight seeing is fun if not a bit tiring, but i did go to my first European Bar Crawl in Prague.  It was fun but I am pretty sure that it is probably also my last, I barley made it to the last club before I went home to go to bed. :)  Also in case you were wondering, Czech food is AMAZING!! I am in love with Goulash Soup and Potatoes Dumplings!!! It is very much comfort food!  I am now of to Vienna, Austria where everything is much more expensive again!