Yesterday I visited the Old Jewish Cemetery in the Zizkov neighborhood of Prague for the first time. Prague actually has several Jewish cemeteries, only one of which is still in use, and some of which are only remnants of what they once were.
When most visitors come to Prague, they tour the Old Jewish Cemetery, which is located in Prague’s historic Jewish Quarter. However, there are others that are worth a visit, and the Old Jewish Cemetery in Zizkov, though a bit out of the city center, is one of them.
Located next to the space-age TV tower (the needle in the sky that you can’t miss in Prague’s distant skyline), the Zizkov cemetery was founded in 1680 when the plague swept through Prague and burials within what were then the city limits were forbidden. Next to it a Christian cemetery was also founded, and both were initially used only when necessary due to epidemics (a second wave of the plague came through in the early 18th century, and burials again took place in the Zizkov cemetery). However, after 1786, it was used as Prague’s main burial place for the city’s Jewish community, when all burials within the city limits were banned.
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I am an American who has been living in Prague for two decades. After a long career in international finance, I left the business world to pursue other interests. I now work as a writer, mentor and guide to the city.