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Honoring the Dead: Graveyards; The Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague

Prague Cemetery

The Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, The Czech Republic

Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, The Czech Republic

Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, The Czech Republic

Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, The Czech Republic

Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, The Czech Republic

The Old Jewish Cemetery is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe and one of the most important historical monuments in Prague.

Starting at the middle of the 15th century, the gravestones record is a continual time line of burials. The final gravestone is dated 1787.

For more than three centuries in which the cemetery was in active use, it struggled with lack of space. Respect for the dead does not allow for the abolishment of old graves. When space ran out and Jews were no longer allowed to buy more ground, they had to gain space in other ways. Another layer of soil was heaped on the old graves and more people were buried! There are sections in this cemetery twelve layers thick! The older graves remained intact this way, and some of the older headstones were moved to the new higher surface. This explains the dense forest of gravestones that one sees today. The surface of the cemetery is much higher than the surrounding streets and retaining walls are necessary to hold the soil and graves in place. This is one of the saddest and most unusual graveyards I have ever visited.

 

 

4 Responses to “Honoring the Dead: Graveyards; The Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague”

  1. gilian

    Graveyards can be one of the saddest places to visit. I remember staying in one and I could just imagine those people alive. Made me contemplate on life. 🙂

    Reply

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