Hebrew Clock, Old Jewish Town Hall, Prague, Czech Republic

Hebrew Clock, Old Jewish Town Hall, Prague, Czech Republic

Hebrew Clock, Old Jewish Town Hall, Prague, Czech Republic. The Jewish Town Hall has a Hebrew Clock(Židovská radnice).  Clock towers hands have Hebrew figures. The hands run backwards.  Hence, Hebrews read from right to left.  Closed to the public.  Only the eatery remains open.

Jewish Townhall was constructed adjacent to the Old New Synagogue.  Located on the corner of Maiselova and Červená Ulice.  Constructtion took place in 1586. The building is renaissance style. Construction was sponsored by  Mayor Mordechai Maisel. The Rococo facade was acquired in the 18th century.

The building was the main meeting house of the local Jewish community.  Best known for its two clocks, one on a tower with Roman numeral markings, the other, lower has Hebrew numerals.  Hebrew numerals begin with aleph and continue counterclockwise around the clock dial.

Jews are believed to have settled in Prague as early as the 10th century. The first crusade  was in 1096.  Eventually Jews were concentrated within a walled Ghetto. In 1262 Přemysl Otakar II issued a Statuta Judaeorum.  The Community was granted self rule.

In 1389 one of the worst crusades saw some 1,500 Jews massacred at Easter Sunday. The ghetto was most prosperous towards the end of the 16th century.  Jewish Mayor, Mordecai Maisel, became the Minister of Finance. His money helped develop the ghetto.

In 1850 the quarter was renamed “Josefstadt” (Joseph’s City) after Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor. He emancipated Jews with the Toleration Edict in 1781. Two years before the emancipation, Jews were allowed to settle outside of the city.  Henceforth, the share of the Jewish population in Josefov decreased.  Hence, only orthodox and poor Jews remained living there.

Most of the quarter was demolished between 1893 and 1913 as part of an initiative to model the city on Paris. What was left were only six synagogues, the old cemetery, and the Old Jewish Town Hall. Now part of the Jewish Museum in Prague.

Josefov is overbuilt with buildings from the beginning of the 20th century.  In conclusion, it is difficult to appreciate exactly what the old quarter was like. when it was reputed to have over 18,000 inhabitants.  http://www.prague.cz/jewish-quarter/

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