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Old Jewish Cemetery

Up to 100,000 people are possibly buried at this medieval cemetery, which is one of the most important Jewish historical monuments in Prague

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The oldest Jewish cemetery in Prague has thousands of gravestones, they are placed so close to each other that it's almost impossible to walk through. Old Jewish Cemetery in downtown Prague is one of the largest in Europe. The cemetery functioned from the 15th century until 1786. You can find graves of many prominent figures buried here, such as Rabbi Jehuda Liva ben Bezalel (1526–1609), who is known from the myth of the golem and is buried under a sand-coloured headstone with a lion on it. Well-known businessman Mordecai Meisel (1528–1601), rabbi, mathematician, physician, and music theorist Joseph Solomon Delmedigo (1591– 1655) and historian-astronomer David Gans (1541–1613) were also buried here.

The cemetery shortly ran out of space. The Jewish culture doesn't allow the destruction of old graves. So, a new layer of soil was heaped onto the existing area to create more burial space. According to some accounts, there are places at Old Jewish Cemetery where there are as many as twelve layers of bodies stacked upon each other. No wonder that the surface of the cemetery is several meters higher than nearby streets.

The most recent gravestones at the cemetery are dated 1787, although in 1784 Emperor Josef II had banned burials inside the city walls for medical reasons. After that time Prague Jews used a cemetery in Žižkov that appeared in the 17th century after the plague epidemic.

Old Jewish Cemetery is open to visitors all year with varying summer and winter hours. It's closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays. The best months to visit is either June or September, which offer perfect weather and relative privacy. The best time in the cold season is January and February—perfect for exploring the site without crowds.

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