Visit to Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic

A moving experience in Prague was the visit to Old Jewish Cemetery. It was a complex feeling; so peaceful yet so disturbing.

Old Jewish Cemetery Prague

Pinkas Synagogue Prague

We were let in to the cemetery through Pinkas Synagogue, which was used for worship last time in the 1940ies. The walls of the rooms were covered with names of the Jews who died in the holocaust… 78,000+ Bohemian and Moravian victims of Nazis. There is a room which displays children’s art. The sights depicted by the little hands choked me with emotions. Tender lives cut short. All drawings there were made by children captured in Theresienstadt concentration camp during WWII. No photography was permitted here and for once I was glad it wasn’t permitted! These are feelings that are not to be posted around and so right they are!


12,000 Gravestones at Old Jewish Cemetery Prague

From here we were led to the cemetery where 12,000 gravestones are visible. Such a tiny space and so many gravestones… but in reality, the actual figures are 100,000 burials. According to Jewish tradition old graves are not destroyed. And with no new land available they were forced to place layers on layers. Some of them had twelve layers of graves.



The tombstones too tell stories. Noteworthy here is that the size of the tombstone indicated how important the person was. There are names inscribed in Hebrew and some signs on the tombs indicated their professions. Probably the grapes on tombstone indicated wine making as the person’s occupation. The grave was in use from early fifteenth century to 1787. Standing amidst the tombstones I found it hard to think of anything… we are all human beings and there is an end to all!

A new life clings to old life, tries to survive, so there is hope!

 

Karlstejn Castle, Prague
Charles Bridge, Prague

37 Responses to “Visit to Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic

  • Let us hope we never, ever have to witness, experience anything like this ever, ever again! Such a very moving, heartbreaking post! May we never forget! I love your last shot, Indrani! Yes, there is hope! Thank you for this!

    Sylvia

  • Heartbreaking and touching post. Your photographs are very moving.

  • Oh I see this cemetery twice today, the other one is from JM of http://www.travelling.com. It looks like you are on the same thoughts while posting, and Prague is a place i earnestly wants to see!

  • Fascinating post, Indrani! Interesting to read the information. Twelve layers…that's a lot of layers!

  • These are as amazing and inspiring, and they are heart-breaking.

  • This is my favorite post of ANY
    in a long time. You touch the face of the ineffable!

    Aloha from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral

    >< } } ( ° >

  • Wow , i have been to this place two times in less than 24 hours .

  • What beautiful and emotional captures of mood. Life and death, blending together, in several realms.

    I have always wanted to visit this cemetery.

  • Very moving and a very touching post.

    I was also at the Memorial Cemetery the other day, with service men as young as 21.

    I love your poetic closing words, there is hope!

  • Beautiful photos of a beautiful character impregnated romanticist.

  • Brilliant images.

  • This is a beautiful post…from both your words and your photos. Thanks for sharing!

  • What a beautiful and moving post, Indrani! Your photos are amazing! Thanks for sharing. I hope you have a lovely week!

  • Very moving post.

  • Well done memorial,Indrani!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River Canada.

  • these headstones are beautiful. a beautiful, moving post. thanks for sharing.

  • I think seeing this synagogue and cemetery would be heart-breaking, knowing what happened to so many people during the Holocaust. The pictures from the cemetery are sad, but also have a quiet dignity. Thank you for including the last shot.

  • Heart rending but beautiful post especially of the children's art. Amazing too how the cemetery had up to 12 layers of graves.

  • painful history…

  • Very touching post, with fascinating images.

  • Your photo's are so delicate and so beautiful , Indrani !
    Greetings from Holland,
    Anna :-))

  • Very touching and solomn. What a horrible time it was for humanity.

  • It's such a heart wrenching moment when we heard the stories of people who were buried there.

  • It is sad that humanity was at its worst during WWII! I can understand how depressing it must have been to enter that site.

  • Moving post, Indrani!

  • Touching! I too follow the practice of not photographing if not permitted

  • I have never thought to include graveyards in my itineraries when travelling, but I can see how much history is part of these grave sites. Fascinating & also just a touch macabre that graves have layers and layers of people to each site. Hopefully they were all from the same family!

  • I’ve been through this as well when I was in Prague. Very moving and it’s great of you that you actually respected the “no photo” rule. I see so many people just not caring about it and I think it’s disrespectful.

  • I love to visit cemeteries, because as you say, they are both peaceful and emotional. You get to learn about the history of a place, but also reflect in the peace of the environment. I am happy they have a ‘no photos’ rule, sometimes it should be about respect before documentation!

  • I was in Prague this summer and we were not able to get to this cemetery, unfortunately. I will definitely go next time. It’s a good thing that no photos were allowed inside, more respectful.

  • The cemetery looks pretty and quite fascinating. I think it’s kind of cool that they probably indicated wine making with a grape on the tombstone.

  • Megan Jerrard
    1 month ago

    I can definitely see how this would have been a moving, and somber experience – especially to come face to car with drawings from children of the Theresienstadt concentration camp during WWII. I don’t think I would be able to hold myself together. I find cemetaries quite peaceful, and enjoy visiting because I find it fascinating to read about the people who influenced the past. As you said, every tombstone tells a story. But it’s very emotional when so many graves are due to a tragedy like WWII.

  • Cemeteries always seem to have such a peaceful vibe about them despite the obvious morbidity. We love walking through the head stones trying to piece together the story of the person beneath us. I didn’t know that graves are piled several layers thick in Jewish cemeteries. Also completely agree that sometimes things are best left unphotographed if for no other reason than to ensure you stay in the moment and focus all your senses on what you’re looking at.

  • What a deeply emotional and thought provoking experience. Thank you for sharing about this important grave site from WWII. I’m glad to hear there is a no photo rule there. That is a good way for people to stay in the moment and respect the site.

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