Charles Bridge in Prague (Photo: Atara Kops)
Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, was voted the most beautiful city in the world by TimeOut magazine in 2021. “The City of a Hundred Spires beat New York, Paris and Chicago to the top spot.” According to Wikipedia “The Czech Republic has become one of the major tourist destinations in Europe, receiving over 20 million visitors yearly. The capital, Prague, is the most popular destination, by itself receiving over 8 million visitors annually.” In addition to the beauty of the city and local landmarks, Prague has an amazingly preserved Jewish Ghetto which makes it a popular kosher vacation destination.
Things you might not have known about Prague
- Prague is known as the beer capital of the world, as Czechs actually drink more beer per capita than any other nation in the world. They have been brewing beer for over 1000 years and are known to drink beer with every meal, including breakfast. They also have beer spas where you can soak in warm beer while you drink cool beer from the tap.
- Prague is home to one of the ugliest buildings in Europe according to Spottedbylocals.com - the Zizkov Tower is a television tower in the middle of the city that changed Prague’s skyline and is considered an eyesore by many local residents.
- Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The castle dates back to the 9th century and is 570 meters in length and around the average of 130 meters in width. The castle attracts almost 2 million visitors each year and is truly a sight to behold.
- The Astronomical Clock, located on the southern side of the Old Town Hall Tower, was first installed in 1410. It is the world's third-oldest astronomical clock and the oldest one still operating today.
- The John Lennon Wall is a graffiti wall filled with John Lennon–inspired graffiti. It began in 1980 with graffiti scrawled by tourists and visitors alike. Since 2019, nobody is allowed to write on the wall without permission.
John Lennon Wall in Prague (Photo: Atara Kops)
Jewish Heritage Sights of Prague
Prague’s Jewish Quarter, known as Josefov, dates back to the 11th century. The 16th century was a golden age for Jewry in Prague. One of the famous Jewish scholars of the time was Judah Loew ben Bezalel known as the Maharal, who served as a leading rabbi in Prague for most of his life. Most of the Jewish Quarter was destroyed during construction at the turn of the 19th century and it suffered yet more damage during the Holocaust.
There are still synagogues and other Jewish historic sights that have been preserved within the Jewish Quarter.
- Jewish Museum - has one of the largest collections of Judaica in the world. The museum consists of six Jewish monuments: the Maisel Synagogue; the Pinkas Synagogue; the Spanish Synagogue; the Klausen Synagogue; the Ceremonial Hall; and the Old Jewish Cemetery.
- Klausen Synagogue: Built in 1694, it is the largest synagogue in the Jewish Quarter.
- Maisel Synagogue: This 16th century building once served as a center of prayer and education.
- Pinkas Synagogue: A memorial for the 80,000 Czech Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
- Spanish Synagogue: Built in 1868, it was the last synagogue built in the Jewish Quarter
- The Old-New Synagogue (Altneuschul): Europe’s oldest active synagogue. The synagogue was completed in 1270 and built in the gothic style that was popular at the time.
- Old Jewish cemetery: One of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world, with more than 12,000 grave stones
- The Franz Kafka Houses: The famous Jewish author lived in various houses in the old city center.
Old-New Synagogue - Altneuschul in Prague (Photo: Richard Mortel from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
- King David Hotel - kosher hotel in the center of the city - open all year round. There is a restaurant open to the public during the week and on Shabbat. The hotel offers a Passover program and a Sukkot program.
- 5th District by King Solomon featuring a wide range of classic Jewish dishes.
- Shalom Kosher Restaurant located in the Jewish Quarter is open for lunch on Mondays - Fridays and offers Shabbat meals with advanced reservations
- Shelanu Pizzeria is located in the Chabad House in the heart of the Jewish Quarter. Enjoy pizza, falafel, sandwiches and more in the restaurant or delivered to your hotel.
- The Chabad Grill offers Mediterranean cuisine available for dine in, take out, delivery, catering and Shabbat meals.
- Trdelnik & Coffee located next to the Jewish Museum offers coffee and Trdelnik.
- U Milo Italian Dairy Restaurant is a new kosher and cholov Yisroel Italian restaurant located next to the Chabad Center.
The Dancing House in Prague (Photo: Atara Kops)
Local landmarks not to be missed on your visit to Prague
- Old Town Square: This ancient public square dates back to the 12th century and serves as the heart of the city. It's home to many notable monuments, as well as a variety of shops and cafés.
- Charles Bridge: Connecting the two sides of Prague, this iconic bridge is one of the city's most recognizable features. It features exquisite statues and provides beautiful views of the Vltava River below.
- Prague Castle: Sitting atop a hill overlooking the city, this centuries-old castle complex hosts some of Europe's finest examples of Gothic architecture.
- Jewish Quarter: Known as Josefov, this area is home to several synagogues and other religious landmarks, as well as cobblestone streets lined with artisanal shops. The Chabad House and kosher restaurants can be found in Josefov.
- Astronomical Clock: Located in the center of Old Town Square, this 15th century clocktower has been entertaining onlookers with its hourly show for centuries.
- Petrin Hill: This garden-covered hilltop is home to one of Prague's most stunning panoramas, as well as a variety of activities like an observation tower and mini-golf course.
- Wenceslas Square: This large avenue has become an important cultural spot in Prague. It features many vibrant shops, restaurants, and galleries.
- Dancing House: This modern building designed by Vlado Milunic stands out among the city's many traditionalist buildings due to its unique design inspired by the movements of dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
- Hop on the train to Pilsen (birthplace of Pilsner beer) for a tour of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery and learn how beer is made.
The Astronomical Clock (Photo: Envato)
Prague is a beautiful city full of history, culture and beauty. Whether you're looking to explore Jewish heritage or enjoy the sights of modern architecture, there's something for everyone in this vibrant European destination. From the Old Town Square to Prague Castle, visitors can take in amazing views while exploring its many monuments and landmarks. For those seeking kosher restaurants and hotels, Josefov has plenty of options available including King David Hotel, Shalom Kosher Restaurant, Shelanu Pizzeria and more. With so much to see and do in Prague it will be sure to leave an unforgettable impression on all who visit!