The Jewish Quarter In Prague I

Franz Kafka square in Prague Old Town

One of the attractions that you should definitely not miss while you’re in Prague is the Jewish Quarter. Known as Josefov in Czech, this tiny district within the Old Town contains some of the most intriguing sights in the Czech capital. Bohemia Apartments Prague brings you the first part of the article.

Conveniently, it’s located within easy reach of your apartment. Jewish history in Prague stretches back to the 10th century, and as in other large cities, it was frequently turbulent. The city’s Jewish population suffered in repeated pogroms other forms of persecution over the centuries. In the early Middle Ages this included confinement to a tiny space – the Ghetto. In 1262 King Přemysl Otakar II granted the Jewish community in Prague a certain amount of self-administration.


Three centuries later the Ghetto enjoyed a Golden Age, under the wealthy Jewish Mayor, Mordecai Maisel, who used his income to develop the district. The 16th century was also the time of Rabbi Löw and the Golem (see the “The Legend of the Golem” article).

The Jewish Quarter changed hugely in the following centuries. In 1781 Prague’s Jews were given more freedoms by the Toleration Edict issued by Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor. In the mid 19th century, they were permitted to live beyond the Ghetto; as a result only orthodox and poor Jews remained there. At the same time, the non-Jewish population kept growing, turning the Ghetto into an overcrowded, insanitary slum quarter, which you may have seen in old photographs of Prague.


In 1850 the district was renamed Josefstadt (Joseph’s City) after him. By the end of the 19th century, living conditions were intolerable. Most of Josefov was subsequently demolished between 1893 and 1913, as part of a programme to renew the quarter and model it on Paris – hence Pařížská Street, the grand main thoroughfare – and the city’s most exclusive shopping street – which runs through the district.


In the second part of the article Bohemia Apartments Prague will describe the history of Jewish Town from the 20th century untill today. Meanwile, if planning to visit Prague and interested to stay near to Jewish Town we recommend you to check our Bohemia Apartments Prague Old Town Residence which is located 100 metres from Charles Bridge and 5 min nice walk along the Vltava bank to Jewish Town.

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