Prague Minos Guide

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11. století

Jewish Town – Josefov

A Prague quarter from the 11th century
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Josefov is the smallest quarter in Prague and former Jewish Ghetto. The first Jewish settlements in Prague are from around the 10th century. The first pogrom ( time of first crusade in 1096) led to the enclosure of the Jews inside the ghetto, which became the heart of Josefov (Jewish Town). In 1262, the Jewish were granted the right to administer their own town by King Přemysl Otakar the 2nd. But the Jewish Ghetto was subject to pogroms anyway, and one of the worst happened on Easter Sunday in 1389.
The ghetto underwent its largest development in the 16th century during the reign of Emperor Rudolf the 2nd, when a renowned provost of the Jewish Town named Mordechai Maisel had many houses built and became state treasurer. The Golem legend

originates in the 16th century as well, in which Golem was a man made of clay by Maharal (Rabbi Loew).
During the reformation under Joseph the 2nd, the Jews were allowed to relocate into other parts of Prague, which led to a drop in population of the Jewish Town. In 1850, the Jewish Town was renamed Josefov in honour of Emperor Joseph the 2nd. Between 1893 and 1913, Josefov underwent a thorough renovation organized by the Prague City Hall, which led to the end of the Jewish Town as it had been known. Six beautiful synagogues, the old cemetery and the Jewish Town Hall remained, which fortunately survived the holocaust and the Nazi protectorate. Today Josefov is alive, memory repository as well as historical and cultural centre.


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