One of the largest cemeteries of its kind in Europe, with headstones dating back to the mid-1400s, the Old Jewish Cemetery is an off-the-beaten-track destination where you can spend a peaceful hour or two. More than 100,000 of Prague’s Jewish citizens were buried here, and there are around 12,000 gravestones still in place.
Historians estimate that the cemetery was first put to use during the early 15th century. The oldest grave, belonging to the rabbi and poet Avigdor Kara, dates to 1439. The most recent grave dates from 1787—burials were banned within the city limits after this time due to public health concerns. Headstones display various styles from different eras, including Renaissance, baroque and Gothic. Small pieces of paper held down with pebbles in front of the graves dot the space—local custom has it that the dead will answer your wish if you write it down and leave it in the graveyard, but only if weighted down with a stone brought from your hometown.
Visitors often come to the cemetery as part of a walking tour of the city, or as an additional activity after visiting the Jewish Museum. Special tours dedicated to the city’s Jewish history can provide additional insights.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entry to the cemetery is via ticket purchased at the Jewish Museum.
- The graveyard is wheelchair accessible via the Klausen Synagogue entrance.
- Headstones are very crowded together—with such limited space, graves were layered up to 10 bodies deep.
- The cemetery’s Jewish name is Beth Chaim, which means House of Life.
How to Get There
The Old Jewish Cemetery is located in the Josefov area of the city, between Brehova, Maiselova, and Siroka streets. It is close to the river at the Staromestska metro stop (line A). Tramline 17 also stops close to the cemetery. Traveling by car is not recommended—most people visit on foot, often as part of a guided walking tour.
When to Get There
The cemetery is open every day, except Saturdays and Jewish holidays. Opening hours are 9am–4:30pm with extended hours in the summer—the exact dates change every year so check before visiting on summer evenings.
A marvel of medieval engineering, the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square (Staromestske Namesti) is one of Prague’s most popular tourist attractions. Every hour, on the hour, carved figures of the Apostles parade past windows in the clock to the delight of the visitors gathered below.