Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is a very picturesque and beautiful city in Europe. It has many castles and green rolling hills, and is famous for its cultural life. Prague has a particularly rich Jewish history. There were times of great communal heights and impressive Jewish learning and sadly times of large scale anti-Semitism.
Day 1, Arrival to Prague
We will meet at Ben Gurion airport for our flight to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. After landing, we will board our bus and meet our tour guide for a tour of the city. We will visit Prague Castle which has been the seat of Czech kings and princes since the end of the 9th century. The Crown Jewels are kept at Prague Castle, as are the relics of Bohemian kings, precious Christian relics, art treasures and historical documents. It is currently the residence of the president. The tour will also take us to the St Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace St. George Square, and the Golden Lane We will walk in Lesser Town, the oldest Prague district, and we well cross over the Charles Bridge to the Old Town. Charles Bridge is the oldest preserved bridge connecting both districts. We will learn about its beautiful sculptural decoration and history.
Boat trip with buffet dinner. We will stay at the 4* Caruso Hotel for all nights of the tour.
Day 2, Pilsen
After Tefilla and a kosher breakfast at the hotel, we will depart to Pilsen.
Pilsen sits at the confluence of four rivers, the Mže, Úhlava, Úslava and the Radbúza, It is famous for its Pilsner Urquell Brewery and the beer style of the same name – Pilsner.
The city is currently home to 170,000 people, making it the Czech Republic’s fourth largest city after Prague, Brno and Ostrava. The city’s old town square has remained relatively unchanged over the past few centuries despite Pilsen being subjected to plagues, sieges during the 30 Year War, and a battering from Allied bombs during WWII.
Today, Pilsen is a vibrant student town full of new attractions (both beer and non-beer-related) and things to see thanks to its status as the European Capital of Culture bestowed in 2015. This is a city that is more than its most popular export.
Whilst on our tour we will visit the Pilsener Brewery and will be able to enjoy a glass of lager where the golden-hued Pilsner-style beer was first brewed in 1842.
Pilsner Urquell has not always been the main brewery in town. During the 19th century, almost every house in central Pilsen brewed its own beer; however, it was known to vary wildly in taste and quality. In 1839 the city’s collective brew was so bad that the citizens took it upon themselves to protest by pouring out 36 barrels in the town square. To make things right, the city’s council enlisted the help of Bavarian Master Brewer Josef Groll, who apparently created the perfect beer on his first attempt.
We will walk through a museum of various beer-related objects, watch a film on a 180-degree video screen and ride the Czech Republic’s largest lift before getting to the best part of the tour: the cellars. There are 9km of lime-washed tunnels that run beneath the site and it was here that brewers used to store enormous barrels. A dozen or so of these barrels remain, though they are now for the benefit of tourists who are served a glass direct from the tap to enjoy underground.
After lunch, we will visit the Great and Old Synagogues. Jews have been living in the Pilsen region since the 14th century. The Old Synagogue is hidden within the courtyard of the homes in the Smetanovy neighborhood. (Smetana’s Parks) Originally there was also a Jewish school. In its place there is now an unusual memorial to holocaust victims.
The Great Synagogue was built in Moorish-Romanesque style in 1893. It is the third largest synagogue in Europe (and the fifth biggest in the world). It is evidence of the rich Jewish community in Pilsen, which was unfortunately almost completely annihilated during the Nazi occupation in years 1939 – 1945. The historical building was renovated at the end of the 20th century and, in addition to religious purposes, it serves as a concert and exhibition hall due to its excellent acoustics and a unique atmosphere.
The newly reconstructed Great Synagogue is located within walking distance of the Old Synagogue. We return to Prague for some retail therapy and dinner.
Today, after Tefilla and breakfast, we will explore the old town of Prague which was a medieval settlement. It was separated from the outside world by a semi-circular moat and wall which was connected to the Vltava River at both of its ends. The moat is now covered up by the streets (from north to south-west) which remain the official boundary of the cadastral community of Old Town.
Notable places in the Old Town include Old Town Square with the Astronomical Clock. The Old Town is surrounded by the New Town of Prague. Across the river Vltava (connected by the Charles Bridge) is the Lesser Town of Prague. The former Jewish Town (Josefov) is located in the northwest corner of Old Town heading towards the Vltava.
The Prague Astronomical Clock was first installed in 1410. This makes it the world’s third-oldest astronomical clock and the oldest still in operation today. The lower calendar dial was added in around 1490. Around the same time, the incredible gothic statues were also added.
We will also visit The Jewish Museum which was founded in 1906 and contains one of the largest collections of sacred Jewish artefacts. The expositions of the Jewish Museum in Prague are located in six historic sites. The Old-New Synagogue (Straronova synagoga) is still used for religious services, but the others have been converted into memorials and exhibition halls. The Old-New Synagogue’s name represents the change from being a new, modern building to now the oldest synagogue in Josefov. The Old-New Synagogue is also Europe’s oldest synagogue still in use and the center for Prague’s Orthodox Jews. Above the entrance, there is an elaborate tympanum covered in the twisting branches of a vine tree. Its twelve bunches of grapes represent the tribes of Israel. Inside the pulpit is surrounded by a 15th-century wrought-iron grill, and on the walls, there are inscriptions from the 17th century which were recovered in a later ‘restoration’.
After Tefilla and a kosher breakfast, we depart Prague for Lidice. Lidice was originally a small Czech town located about 12 miles (20 km) from Prague. In June 1942, German forces annihilated Lidice. They razed the town to the ground and murdered or deported its residents. The annihilation of Lidice was an act of revenge for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a prominent Nazi official. We will visit the extraordinary new multi-media museum and children’s monument.
We will then visit Terezin which was a concentration camp 30 miles north of Prague during World War II. Terezín is contained within the walls of the famed fortress Theresienstadt, which was created by Emperor Joseph II of Austria in the late 18th century and named in honor of his mother, Empress Maria Theresa.
By 1940 Nazi Germany had assigned the Gestapo to turn Terezín into a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp. It primarily held Jews from Czechoslovakia. There were also tens of thousands of Jews deported from Germany and Austria and hundreds from the Netherlands and Denmark. More than 150,000 Jews (including 15000 children) were sent there. They remained there for months or years, before being sent by rail transports to their deaths at extermination camps. Fewer than 150 children survived.
We will return to Prague for dinner.
Today, we will visit the new town of Prague, and the new cemetery.
One of Prague’s oldest districts despite its misleading name of Nove Mesto (New Town), New Town was build in 14th century and many of its current buldings were constructed around ancient squares, just walking around this district you will see so many beautiful and historically important buildings, the nightlife in this district is the best, so many great cafe’s, bar’s, pub’s, and restaurant’s, it’s a vibrant, happening district, and said to be the beating heart of the city.
We will take time to visit The New Jewish Cemetery in Olšanyof Prague which was established in 1890 to relieve the space problem at the Old Jewish cemetery in Žižkov. It is about 10 times bigger than the Old Jewish Cemetery in Josefov and provides space for approximately 100,000 graves, therefore having the capacity to serve for a whole century. There is also a specially designated area for urns, though the Jewish tradition does not allow cremation. The cemetery is still in use today and operated by the Jewish Community in Prague.
Then we will move to another cemetery in Žižkov which served mainly in 19th century. One of the most notable burial sites in this cemetery is that of Yechezkel ben Yehuda HaLevi Landau (8 October 1713–29 April 1793) who was an influential authority in halakha (Jewish law). He is best known for the work Noda Biyhudah (נודע ביהודה), by which title he is also known. Landau was highly esteemed not only by the community, but also by others; and he stood high in favor in government circles. Thus, in addition to his rabbinical tasks, he was able to intercede with the government on various occasions when anti-Semitic measures had been introduced.
This concludes our visit to Prague of which we hope you’ve enjoyed. We will make our way to the airport for our journey home.
For further details contact Carole Kremer at AACI: 02-5661181 ext. 310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Caruso is an exclusive boutique hotel, located in the heart of the Czech capital in the Josefov Quarter, formerly the Jewish Quarter, of the Old Prague. The hotel is within walking distance of Prague’s main attractions – the Old Town Square can be reached within 5 minutes, the Charles Bridge within 10 minutes, and Parizska Street and Vltava Embankment within 1 minute. Despite its central location, Caruso stands on a quiet street, there are no trams or buses, and no crowds.
Caruso offers comfortable rooms with air conditioning, flat-screen satellite TV, laptop safe, minibar and tea and coffee making facilities. The hotel is equipped with a free wi-fi network and furnished with new Italian furniture. Members of our outstanding reception staff are available around the clock.
The hotel building, built in 1908, is a worthy example of the Belle Époque architecture and is brimming with the unique influences of the famous Czech artist Alphonse Mucha. The interiors are decorated with original paintings by old and contemporary masters, original Art Nouveau frescoes, stained glass, Bohemia crystal, and antiques.