Saturday, October 15, 2011

Visiting Prague's Jewish Cemetery

On a trip to various cities in Central Europe, I stopped in Prague and saw this beautiful but tragic place, the Jewish Cemetery in Prague.  Prague's Jewish population was literally decimated by the end of WWII, with many having died in the concentration camps.  The old Jewish Quarter of Prague has several historic synagogues, now all museums, and this old cemetery.

It dates back to the Middle Ages.  There are about 12,000 known burials there, with about 1,000 existing markers. The actual number of burials is probably a lot higher, because the burials were in "layers" and they would add new soil as necessary.   The ground rises here because of the mound of burials underneath, and the existing gravestones are from many different periods in the cemetery's history.

These are the oldest markers in the cemetery, dating to the Gothic period (13th century).  Notice the coins and pebbles people have stuck into crevices and lettering as tiny memorials of their visit.  All of this is in a space about the size of Tolomato Cemetery.

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