Prague and vicinity Jewish Heritage tour for cruise and land clients
Day 1. Prague Castle, Old Town, Charles Bridge, Jewish Quarter.
Meet your guide in hotel’s lobby for full day tour of Prague including Castle district, Old town and Jewish quarter.
Jews have lived in Prague since 970 A.D. Until 1939, Prague was for many centuries one of the most important Jewish centers in Europe. Prague is the Czech’s Republic capital and its international showpiece. From magnificent Prague Castle to Wenceslas Square in the heart of the city, Prague rewards visitors with a diverse range of attractions, most situated within walking distance of each other. The Charles Bridge, flanked on either side by statues of monarchs and saints, serves as a timeless symbol of Prague's medieval history, while the Jewish quarter, adjacent to the old town square, is a constant reminder of the Nazi occupation during World War Two. Having survived the centuries with its medieval architecture intact,
Prague is one of the best-preserved capitals in Europe as well as being one of the most easily accessible of the great cities of Eastern Europe. Its historical legacy is only matched by its status as a European cultural center. The Prague’s River Moldau was immortalized in the symphonic poem of Czech composer Bedrich Smetana.
When you visit Prague, it is hard to imagine what Czech people been through. The WWII war, Iron curtain, Velvet Revolution ... Currently, the city bounced back when the country become democratic. Prague quickly shed off Cold War perceptions.
From the Golem of Jewish Legend to the Metamorphosis in Franz Kafka's modern tale, the puppets and monsters are intertwined on Czech literature and culture. It is easy to imagine the world in which the Golem was created when you visit Josefov, the Old Jewish Quarter. The earliest evidence of Jewish settlement goes back to 9th century. The Jews settled just outside the castle, but in the 13th century, the Josefov emerged on the right bank of the Vltava River as the Jewish Quarter. A city within the city, it had its own town hall and surrounding walls. The community congregated around the Old New Synagogue, the oldest surviving European synagogue, founded in 1270. From its beginnings, the synagogue cast legendary aura over the ghetto. Local legend held that angels brought stones from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem for foundation.
The most famous legend surrounding the Old New Synagogue Rabbi Judah Ben Bezarel, known as Rabbi Loew, who made the Golem from Vltova River mud. The Golem was a terifying monster, the story goes, created by Loew ib the 16th Century to defend the Josefov from the anti-semitism of the Hapsburgs. The Golem did terrify the prosecutors, but later on he went to terrify the Jews as well. The good rabbi destroyed him. It is said the remains of the monster lie somewhere in the synagogue.
A very different kind of monbster terrorized the Jewish Quarter during the Nazi Era, inside the Pinska synagogue, the second oldest in Prague, where the names of 80,000 Jewish victims inscribed on the walls. Those names, in combination with the gravestones of the Old Jewish Cemetery, reveal both the fragility of the community and it's power to endure. There are thousands of old tombstones which hold remains of 100,000 in relatively small area. The caretakers of the cemetery say that the Star of David was first used a a symbol of Judaism in this cemetery. Good guide can explain inscriptions, and they are seen better from certain angle and light.
One ticket to the Jewish Museum also covers admission to the cemetery and Synagogues. The museum collection of Jewish Art and artifacts includes a fascinating cycle of 18th-century paintings of the Burial Society offering a glimpse into burial rituals.
The Prague Jewish Quarter Walking Tour traces the history of what was once the largest Jewish ghetto in Europe. This moving story embraces the traditions, customs and legends of the Jewish people in Prague, from their early settlements in the 10th century, through the poverty of the pogrom refugees, their successes and their enforced isolation.
One can spend a day exploring Josefov, with set aside a break at the Cafe Franz Kafka with the best strudel in in town. It is next door to the Franz Kafka Book store and next door is Franz Kafka Society. The walking tour of In Footsteps of Franz Kafka can be arranged.
Though pogroms and persecutions against ghetto were often, as well as fires and deceases, but now Prague's Jewish Community is trying to recover from both Nazi and Communist persecution. Prague's museum of Communism tells story of the life under regime from 1948 to 1989.
Private guide, transfer and entrance fees included.
Day 2. Terezin Concentration Camp
The town and fortress of Terezin were founded in 1780 by Joseph II in neo-Classicist style. The Small Fortress was turned into a Nazi concentration camp run by the Gestapo in June 1940, by the end of war over 90 000 prisoners had passed through its gates. In February 1942 the town of Terezin itself became a Jewish ghetto and 160 000 Jews from 35 different countries were brought here in ‘transit’ to execution camps. The Nazis used propaganda to deceive Red Cross, claiming it was a ‘town for the Jews’.
After Terezin, Continue to Melnik castle . About 30km north of Prague, the town of Melník lies on a high ridge overlooking the junction of Bohemia’s two greatest rivers, the Labe and the Vltava.
The location has been inhabited since at least the 9th century, when it was a fortress of the Psovan tribe. These river valleys from Prague to the wide bend of the Labe at Roudnice were the heartland of the earliest Czechs; the original Slavic settlers who arrived in Bohemia during the great migration of nations in the sixth and seventh centuries AD.
Guide, transportation and entrance fees are included.
Evening entertainment, dining and other day trips out of Prague are arranged.
Customized for each client.