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In the heart of Prague, on the banks of the Vltava River, lies the district of Josefov. This Jewish neighbourhood has an illustrious history and forms the setting for many tales by writer Franz Kafka, who lived here. Take the time to explore the cobbled streets and become acquainted with the culture, architecture and stories of Prague’s Jewish community.
Prague’s Jewish quarter has existed since the 13th century. Many Jewish people moved to this cramped neighbourhood around that time – at its peak around 18,000 people lived here. Today, only a small Jewish community remains in Josefov but you can still get a taste of its historic atmosphere. Although large parts of the district were redeveloped in the 19th century, the most important buildings and monuments remain intact. The 6 synagogues, the Jewish Town Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery are among Europe’s best-preserved Jewish monuments. These historical sites continue to remind us of a time when Jewish culture flourished here.
Franz Kafka (1883-1924) spent most of his life in Josefov. The Kafka family lived at number 27 Dušní and a bronze statue just a few metres away serves as a reminder of the famous author. The statue’s sculptor, Jaroslav Róna, wanted to depict the short story Description of a Struggle, in which a friendly conversation between the narrator and an acquaintance turns into a fight. Kafka’s tale is set largely on the banks of the Vltava River and the writer himself can be recognised on the shoulders of the story’s mysterious and headless black figure.