Thursday, June 24, 2010

Prague Day 2 (Part 2): Strolling around Jewish Quarter

We chose Jewish Quarter for our evening stroll. Jewish Quarter, known as Josefov, or formerly known as Jewish Ghetto, is located north of Old Town. It dates back to the 13th century when the Jewish community in Prague was ordered to vacate their homes and settle in this area.

The area is now very polished with lots of beautiful buildings, shops, and cafes, but it used to be crowded with insanitary houses and narrow streets. It was also chosen to be the place all the Jews were gathered before they were sent off to the concentration camp by the Nazis during WWII. The peace in the air suddenly felt heavy when I read that in my guidebook.

The record shows there was the worst pogroms in 1389, and approximately 1,500 Jews were massacred on Easter Sunday. Over the centuries, the area became more crowded with Jews as they were not allowed to live anywhere else. And, towards the end of the 16th century, when the Jewish Mayor, Mordecai Maisel, became the Minister of Finance and thus a very wealthy man, he invested money to help developing the "ghetto."

Then during the late 18th century, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor emancipated Jews. He renamed the area "Josefstadt" (Joseph's City), which is the origin of "Josefov." And shortly after that, during 1893 and 1913, the quarter was demolished as a part of initiative to model the city like Paris, which left only six synagogues, the old cemetery, and the Old Jewish Town Hall, which you can still see now in the Jewish Quarter.

One of the synagougues in the quarter called Old-New Synagougue (picture on the left) was built back in 1270 and said to be the oldest synagougue in Europe.

Most of the synagougues were closed by the time we went there, but we found out it was what's called "Museum Night" in Prague, and all the museums, churches, synagougues had their special exhibitions and events. We got the brochure and decided to go into the Frants Kafka Cafe in the quarter to take a look at the brochure.

The one we were interested in was supposed to be held at a synagougue, but later we found out it was not open until very late, so we decided to just go to the Old Town Hall to take a peak at Prague view from the top.

Before doing so, we went into this restaurant called "U Golema" to have dinner. We weren't expecting too much after the bad experience from last night at the touristy restaurant in Old Town, but this restaurant was excellent! My favorite garlic soup was amazing, and so are the main dishes. If you ever go to Prague, check this restaurant out. If you want to learn more about the legendary story about "Golem", see here.

Being happy with the good food, we headed to the Old Town Hall. Inside the hall was unexpectedly modernized. There is a spiral staircase going up to the top of the tower, and in the middle of it, the glass case elevator runs up and down. My hubby and I took the elevator (^^), while Ko-chan ran up the stairs. The result - the elevator won :)

The view from the tower top was just beautiful. It was already past 9pm, and the sky was adding a shade of dark blue. The yellow city lights illuminated here and there which gave the perfect contrast to the dark blue sky. Lovely evening in Prague!

1 comment:

  1. I think we went up the tower at perfect timing at nightfall. A view I'd never forget! And I'm not exaggerating.. U Golema could have been the best restaurant I have been to in my life.. it was ridiculously delicious.