Friday, May 15, 2015

Visiting Prague [Part 2/5]: Jewish Quarter and the river Vltava

As our journey through Prague continues, we move on to a different city district: Josefov or the Jewish Quarter. While stepping out of the old town, you can immediately notice the change. The buildings in this part of the city look brand-new, there are many high-end shops and boutiques to be found here as well as expensive cars parked along the streets. But this part of Prague has a different side as well. You can find various historic places of interest here, that will shed some light on the life of the Jewish community here, throughout the ages.

But in this part I will also show you some sights from the river Vltava, that I captured on our way out of the Jewish Quarter and into another district of the city.

This is a multi-part travel series. Other parts include:
Part One: Old Town Square
Part Two: Jewish Quarter and the river Vltava
Part Three: Prague Castle and Gardens
Part Four: Charles Bridge and Little Quarter
Part Five: A Night in Prague

click on the images for a bigger view


Jews in Prague

Looking at the city now it seems impossible to imagine that these parts of the city were a dooming health hazard back in the 19th century. Jews were marked back then, with yellow circles on their clothes and were pushed to live in this little part of Prague, which quickly became their ghetto. Inside the ghetto the Jewish people had their own town hall. The Jews even had permission to fly their own flag. Jewish living in the ghetto prospered in many diverse professions such as mathematicians, astronomers, geographers, historians, philosophers and artists. So there was persecution as well as periods of renaissance.


Roaming the Streets of the Jewish Quarter

As you will quickly gleam from the first couple of images, the streets and buildings in this district are pristine and there is so much grand architecture to be seen. The colors of the buildings are held in pastel and beige tones, and that carries throughout it. I love the sidewalks, which are meticulously designed and arranged with dark and light cobble stones.




The Old New Synagogue

Next up you will see the Old New Synagogue. It dates back to the year 1270 and is the oldest synagogue in Europe. The synagogue was originally called the New or Great Synagogue and later, when newer synagogues were built in the 16th century, it became known as the Old-New Synagogue



The Old Jewish Cemetery

This upcoming sight is located only a short walk from the aforementioned synagogue. It's a curious place, as you will see many headstones crammed next to each other. As I mentioned earlier, the Jewish community was persecuted at times here, and this a result of one of those times. Jewish people were only allowed to be buried here, and once the place filled up, the bodies were stacked one on top of the other, sometimes having as much as 12 layers. As you walk inside of it, you will definitely feel goosebumps.



Moving out to the river Vltava

As the day progressed, it was time to walk out towards the river Vltava, which flows through Prague. Walking past the Czech Philharmonic (image above) as well as the Rudolfinum, which is a very prominent music auditorium and art gallery, we stepped onto the Jan Palach Square to get closer to the river bank. This is a busy part of the city, and it's a point where three districts collide with each other. 



There is however a stillness here as well. This little square is a bit off from tourist attractions, and for me those places are always better, since you get to see the real life of a city. The Manes Bridge (named after Josef Manes, a Czech painter, whose statue you can see in the next image) is right next to the square, and on this day it would take as further into our exploration of Prgaue. But before we crossed it was time to take a look at the river.


The river Vltava

The Vltava is the longest river within the Czech Republic, running southeast along the Bohemian Forest and then north across Bohemia, through the cities Cesky Krumlov, Ceske Budejovice and Prague, and finally merging with the river Elbe. It is commonly referred to as the Czech national river.



From this place at the river bank you can gaze at the beauty of the buildings and sights that are located along the river stream.


In this next shot you can see the Prague Castle District as well as the castle itself on top of the little hill. This would be our next stop. On the left hand side you can see the Manus Bridge, which we used to cross the river.




There are benches here to sit on and look out onto the river, as well as a little cafe (Manes Cafe) where you can get something to drink. For food you will find the Italian restaurant Grosseto, which has salads, meats, fish and of course pasta and pizzas.




Views from the Vltava River

There is so much beauty to be seen from the Manus Bridge, much more in fact then from the better known and more visited Charles Bridge (which you can see in the image below). This is just my personal opinion and here is why: first this is a traffic bridge, and not crowded by swarms of tourists like the Charles Bridge, second, you can actually get a great shot of the Charles Bridge from here, which you are not able to do otherwise, and third, besides the Chrales Bridge, the Manus Bridge gives you excellent views of the Prague Castle District as well as other parts of the northern part of Prague.


Of course you have to visit the Charles Bridge (no trip to Prague would be complete without it), but don't limit yourself when exploiting. Just a little change of perspective can give you so much more then any tourist guide can.



Trams frequent the Manus Bridge, and while we didn't take a tram this day, we would later on. The city is well connected, and you can get to most of the places via tram and metro.



We finally crossed the bridge and ventured out into the next district of Prague: The Prague Castle. What we saw there will be in the third part of this travel series.




End of Part Two
To be continued...

35 comments:

  1. Nice post Mersad. The images are beautiful, but the story of Jews was impactful...

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    1. Thanks Siddhartha. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this! This section of the city has such a sad history, it's nice to see what it looks like now!

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  3. Hi Mesad this is the third time i have started this post and it disappeared!! Anyway, here goes again. In this post I really feel as if i am walking around the jewish partof the city with you. your photos are ALL stunning, thecoolours areso vibrants, theweather and clouds fantastic, thearchitecture fabulous and I could go onand on but Iwill just say, a magnificnet post well done.

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    1. Thanks for hanging in there. Yes this part of Prague really does leave an impression on the visitor.

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  4. The colour and tones are truly wonderful. I am glad you resisted the temptation to use HDR or were very subtle with it if you did.

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    1. I didn't use HDR on any of them. Thanks Adrian.

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  5. More beautiful buildings, rivers and bridges! That cemetery was crammed with headstones. Now I want to visit Prague.

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  6. number 24 could be used as an illustration in a fair tale book, magical.. a lovely city

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  7. I'm falling even more in love with Prague as I visit along with you.

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    1. Thanks so much Kathy for your kind words.

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  8. Such beautiful photos. I love how the architecture is gothic! A place I must see one day!

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  9. Sehr schöne Stadt und Bilder.
    Liebe Grüße

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    1. Danke. Lieve Grüße zurück.

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  10. I'm liking these a lot!

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  11. What an amazing post! Those shots of the Charles Bridge are just wonderful, and I really enjoy the tour of the city!!

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  12. Very interesting post, thanks a lot! I've never been to Prague, I'm ashamed to admit that. After this post I want to visit it more than ever!

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  13. Mersad, these images are breathtaking. The Jewish cemetery was fascinating; and the views of the Charles Bridge from the Manus Bridge, especially those showing the surrounding architecture, are absolutely gorgeous.

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    1. Thanks Linda. So good to hear from you again!

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  14. Such a beautiful city, you make me want to be there!

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  15. Your photos are gorgeous! The history is sad though... the human race is cruel sometimes.

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  16. Beautiful and interesting views of Prague!

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  17. It amazes me that Prague;s Jewish quarter has survived so well. It certainly is beautiful part of Prague!

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  18. As usual, you are showing photos that are heart-grabbers. Made me strongly desire to be in that part of the world. Oh, well... When I'm in heaven I'll see things perfectly, even though I can't go there. Doncha think? [Smiling at you, BTW!] Bless you for your Godly work.

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  19. The picture of the Jewish cemetery made me feel sad. Mankind was so cruel.

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  20. Wow, great tour of the city, well photographed.

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  21. The depth of focus on these is amazing and the contrast of the buildings and strength of the colours is fantastic

    Mollyxxx

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  22. Beautiful photos and a fantastic narrative, Mersad.
    I have visited a few Jewish quarters, but nothing like this one, yet.
    Bravo!
    Have a Beautiful Day!
    Peace :)

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  23. beautiful areas you showed. the old cemetery is pretty amazing.

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  24. I feel so bad about the way the Jews (and some other people) were treated. The architecture here is magnificent, Mersad.

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  25. These are some awesome sights. The architecture, both new and old, are so clean and lovely to see.

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  26. I've enjoyed popping in and viewing your series! You are right about the architecture and the cobblestone streets. Your second to last shot is a show-stopper. Beautiful!

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  27. Thank you for sharing. Always makes me smile when I see what you have placed the photos around the world. Bless you.

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  28. What a fascinating history of the Jewish section of the city! I really enjoyed reading about it. The Old New Synagogue and the cemetery were wonderful! And I just adore the shot of the city and the Charles Bridge from the other bridge. Just beautiful!

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  29. Very happy to come to your blog Mersad! I love Prague - it is such an amazing city.

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