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.
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...