The Jewish Museum in Prague was founded in 1906 with the aim of preserving precious art objects and documents related to the history of the Czech Jewish communities.
We usually start our visit at the Maisel Synagogue which was commissioned by one of the most influential figures of the ghetto - the mayor Marcus Mordecai Maisel who died in 1601. The exhibition covers the history of Jews in the Czech state since its very beginning up to the late 18th century, the time of emancipation.
We then continue towards the Pinkas Synagogue which was turned into the Memorial of Jewish victims of the Second World War. Almost 80.000 names have been inscribed on the walls. It is an extremely simple but touching monument. A small room on the top floor houses a precious collection of drawings done by the children of the Terezin concentration camp.
Next to the Pinkas Synagogue there is the Old Jewish Cemetery where almost 12.000 tombstones are jumbled together among trees. The oldest gravestone is that of Rabi Avigdor Kara who died in 1439. Among the graves of the distinguished Jews, we can find the names of Marcus Mordecai Maisel (died in 1601), David Oppenheim (died in 1736) and the Rabi Loew, known as Maharal, whose writings became an inherent part of Hasidic teaching.
Flanking the exit from the cemetery there are the former Ceremonial Hall and the Klausen Synagogue. The former features display explains activities of the Burial Society Hevrah Kaddishah [founded in 1564], the latter, dating back to 1694, houses the permanent exhibition „Jewish Customs and Traditions“.
From the Klausen Synagogue we have an easy short walk to the Old-New Synagogue, which is architecturally the most interesting building of the ghetto and also one of the oldest preserved synagogues in Europe and it is still in use. Its main hall, one of the finest examples of the Cistercian Gothic style in Prague, is a double-aisled space with references to the figure 12, both in its plan and decorations.
We will pass by the High Synagogue which is closed to the public and the Jewish Town Hall founded by Maisel in the late 16th century with the Hebrew clock showing the time backwards.
We continue our walk to the Spanish Synagogue which was built in1868 in a Moorish style on the site of demolished Altschul. The richly polychrome and gilded stucco arabesques and other oriental motifs together with an organ make this interior very different from all the other buildings run by the Jewish Museum. The second part of the exhibition „History of Jews in Bohemia and Moravia“ has been presented here.