Considered one of the top 10 cemeteries to visit in the world according to National Geographic, the Old Jewish Cemetery is a must-see destination for lovers of history and cemetery tourism, and more. This highly evocative place is one of Prague’s most visited tourist attractions and during peak hours, when it is swarmed by tourists, it is not exactly an oasis of peace.
Visit it in the early morning hours or just before closing time to enjoy the silence and quiet. These are also the best hours to take extraordinary photographs: the cemetery itself is an excellent training ground for photographers and the morning or sunset light will add charm and emotion to your shots.
Don’t forget to bring your camera equipment and, above all, to pay the small fee for the photography permit. It is money well spent: you will certainly agree with us when you see the beauty of this place.
The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague is the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in Europe. It was founded in the first half of the 15th century and the oldest graves date back to 1439, while the last burial was in 1787. For over 300 years this was the only place where Prague’s Jews could bury their dead.
In the course of time the cemetery was enlarged several times, but when this was no longer possible, they began to make up for the lack of space by stacking the graves and today one can count up to nine layers of different burials.
During the Second World War, the Nazis did not touch the old Jewish cemetery: their aim was to leave it intact in memory of an extinct people.
The gravestones of the Old Jewish Cemetery are about 12,000, but considering the different burial layers, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people were buried in this cemetery.
They are late Gothic, Renaissance or Baroque tombstones, often stuck almost against each other. The decorations are minimal, mostly with floral or animal motifs, or symbolic designs indicating the profession or qualities of the deceased. There are no portraits of the deceased because this was forbidden by the Jewish religion.
Important personalities from the Jewish community and beyond were buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery, whose gravestones are still visible. Of particular note are the graves of:
A visit to the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague is included in the Jewish Museum tour; you enter the cemetery through the Pinkas Synagogue.
Pay attention to the dates because the Jewish Museum and all related facilities are closed during Jewish holidays.
For a more in-depth tour of the Old Jewish Cemetery and all the other attractions in Josefov, Prague’s Jewish Quarter, take part in a guided tour.
When the Old Cemetery was decommissioned, Jewish burials began in 1890 in a new cemetery in the Žižkov district, which today stands at the foot of the TV Tower.
This cemetery is also a popular attraction: the famous Prague writer Franz Kafka is buried here and his grave can still be seen. On 3 June, the anniversary of his death, there are pilgrimages to the burial place of the famous writer.
The TV Tower itself stands on the site of an old Jewish cemetery, used from the closure of the Old Cemetery until 1890. This cemetery can also be visited.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.