CZECH REPUBLIC TOUR EXTENSIONS

Day tours from Prague Divided by Region

Tour extensions are day tours from Prague and divided by region. Extension are custom developed with each group, based on length of stay and group interests. Kosher X is proud to be a contributor to the Czech Jewish Federation “10 Stars Program” Revitalization of Jewish Historic Buildings in the Czech Republic. The aim of the project is to create a centrally coordinated and methodically managed network of ten regional cultural and educational centers of Jewish culture, which will showcase the unique cultural heritage of the Czech Republic. Regional centers of Jewish culture will be created in seven regions in the following locations: Úštěk, Jičín, Brandýs nad Labem, Plzeň, Březnice, Nová Cerekev, Polná, Boskovice, Mikulov and Krnov. The project is co-financed by the EU and the European Fund for Regional Development.

 

 

Prague Area (Central Bohemia):

 

Kutná Hora, Čáslav and Kolín

Distance from Prague: 1 hr

Tour duration: ½ to full day

 

Kutná Hora is another sight in the Czech Republic, which is inscribed into the UNESCO List of World Heritage. In Czech, it literary means the “Digging Mountain“ or the “Silver Pile.” This medieval mining town was founded in the 13th Century, due to the discovery of the largest pocket of silver on the European continent. Due to this, the Czech kings became the richest emperors in the then-known world, which lasted until the discovery of the Americas. Kutná Hora was one of the richest towns, comparable with its wealth to Prague, Rome, Venice or Constantinople, and dubbed the “Czech Athens.” The architectural heritage reflects this throughout the hilly town Centre. These narrow medieval streets boast a number of preserved gothic houses, castles, churches, cathedrals and mining complexes, including a newly restored 20th Century synagogue in the city center. Program includes a tour of a preserved, several-miles long, mining circuit and a baroque ossarium – a so-called “Bone Church.”

 

Kolín was once home to Bohemia’s second largest Jewish community, after Prague, and a religious community organization existed here – against the odds of Holocaust and communism – until the 1970‘s. Today, the significant part of the historical core is represented by a former Jewish ghetto, with a large baroque synagogue, rabbinical houses, narrow ghetto lanes and two ancient Jewish cemeteries from the 1400’s.

 

Čáslav is an old royal town, once a stronghold of the Hussite military warlord, Jan Žižka. A short stopover here allows us to peek into a magnificent art noveau synagogue, completed in 1899 by the famous Austro-Hungarian court architect, Wilhelm Stiassny, who also designed the Jubilee Temple in Prague and the Leopoldstätter Temple in Vienna.

 

Brandeis, Mladá Boleslav and Jičín

Distance from Prague: 1-2 hrs

Tour duration: Full day

 

Brandeis is now part of Prague-North, located only 15 minutes by car from the city center. Originally an imperial Summer Palace of the Habsburgs, it had a thriving Jewish community until the Holocaust—of which a reconstructed synagogue and rabbinical house with exhibition on “The Sources of Judaism“ and one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the country—is left intact. Lewis Brandeis‘ ancestors immigrated to the US from this village.

 

Mladá Boleslav has one of the most stunning Jewish cemeteries located on the city’s hilltop, neighboring the castle fortress and overlooking the town’s center. Among others, Yaakob Bashevi von Treuenburg, court financier of three Habsburg emperors, rosh hakehila of Prague Jewry and the first Jew in Europe to be nobilitated, is buried here.

 

Jičín is one of Bohemia’s most fascinating historic towns. Beginning as a relatively unimportant market settlement during the Thirty Years War, it grew into a major economic, political and cultural center of the kingdom. The famous Czech warlord Albrecht of Wallenstein had his seat here and his tolerant reign led to a tremendous boom of the Jewish community in the town. A significant potion of the town is still to this day represented by a former Jewish ghetto with a Jewish street, synagogue, school and a dozen Jewish houses.

 

Karlštejn, Mořina and Nižbor Glass Factory

Distance from Prague: 1 hr

Tour duration: full day

 

Karlštejn, founded by Czech King and Roman Emperor Charles IV in 1348, has one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Europe. It was founded in the forest-filled hills in the Beounka river valley, in the heart of Central Bohemia, to house and protect the Czech coronation jewels.

 

Mořina is a tiny village a few hilltops away from Karlštejn. Behind the village looms a romantic Jewish cemetery that stands as a silent witness to the life of Bohemian village Jewry that lived in the region between the 1400’s and 1900’s.

 

Nižbor. Czech is known for beer, cars, music, ice hockey and… glass! One of the most famous Czech Glass industries lies only a couple of minutes from Karlštejn, and offers a tour inside the factory. See first hand how glasses, chandeliers and mirrors are still being produced by hand to this very day.

 

Konopiště Chateaux

Distance from Prague: 1 hr

Tour duration: ½ day

 

Konopiště lies about 35 minutes from Prague, located in a wonderful green landscape full of hills, forests and lakes. The Chateaux was home to the successor of the Hapsburg throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este, who was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914 and the starting point of WWI. As such, it boasts a rich collection of weapons, trophies, paintings and the oldest elevator in Europe.

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Northern Bohemia:

 

Terezín, Litoměřice and Úštěk

Distance from Prague: 1 hr

Tour duration: full day

 

Terezín: A redbrick baroque fortress town designed in the 18th Century by the Habsburg emperors against the Prussians, Terezín has played a remarkably tragic role during WWII. Its cultural resistance became one of the spiritual symbols of the shoah. Between 1941 and 1945, the Nazis turned this miniature town into a ghetto, through which some 150,000 Jews from Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria and other Nazi-occupied territories passed through. Prominent personalities, such as professors, artists, musicians, actors, politicians, architects and war veterans, known as the European elite, passed through the ghetto on their way to the extermination camps. This fact was hideously exploited by the Nazi propaganda in one of the greatest scams in human history. Terezín was described as a “self-governed Jewish spa“ and a film, called “Hitler’s Gift of a Town to the Jews“ was made here to be distributed by international humanitarian organizations worldwide that the international community believed.

 

Litoměřice is one of the oldest Czech royal cities, known as the “Gateway to Saxony,” with stunning preserved gothic, renaissance and baroque architecture, especially its 16th Century town square. Jewish history of the city dates back to the 13th Century.

 

Úštěk is a small, medieval market town in Northern Bohemia, with preserved Gothic burgher houses at the town square. Half of the town was actually a Jewish ghetto between the 15th and 19th Century. All is preserved, including a small building combining a synagogue, cheder and a village Jewish teacher’s home. Next door stands a three-story high beit midrash, a building of a Jewish school, town hall and mikvah. 

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Western Bohemia:

 

Pilsen and Carlsbad

Distance from Prague: 1 hr

Tour duration: full day

 

Pilsen: One of the largest Czech cities, Pilsen is home to the world famous Pilsner Beer and Škoda Cars. The former royal stronghold underwent an economic and urban boom during the industrial revolution in which its Jewish citizens played a crucial role. Pilsen boasts the largest square in the country, highest tower and the third largest synagogue in the world. The city became the easternmost European city liberated by the US Army in WWII. Here, we visit two preserved active synagogues and meet with the local Jewish community. And because Pilsen is the beer world capital, we taste the world-famous beer in the Pilsner Brewery Tour.

 

Karlsbad: Distance from Prague: 2 hrsTour duration: full day This town is known for its world famous spa with dozens of healing springs set in a wonderful natural scenery with classical Viennese architecture. Today, Karlsbad is home to an active Jewish community complete with a kosher hotel, restaurant and synagogue. The tour may include a visit to the Moser glass factory and the Becherovka liquor distillery.

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Southern Bohemia:

 

Český Krumlov

Distance from Prague: 2.5 hrs

Tour duration: full day

 

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Český Krumlov is famous for its old town, with 300 protected medieval buildings and its castle complex, the second largest in the Czech Republic. Surrounded by rolling hills and the Vltava River, Ceský Krumlov's cobblestone streets wind past centuries old townhomes, inns, shops, and cafes. Records of the first Jews living in Český Krumlov date back to the 14th century. But it was not until the early 20th century that its community flourished, ending with the start of the war. We take time to visit the newly renovated synagogue built in Neo-Romanesque style in 1909 and used as a field shul by Jewish soldiers who liberated this town in May of 1945.

 

Possible stopover from Krumlov:

 

Budweis: This town is the regional capital of Southern Bohemia and home to the world renown Budweiser Beer. The heritage-protected old town has a large baroque square adjacent gothic streets, with ample opportunity for souvenir shopping or the Budweiser Brewery Tour.

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Moravia:

 

Mikulov

Distance from Prague: 2.5 hrs

Tour duration: full day

 

Dubbed the “Pearl of Moravia,” the picturesque renaissance town of Mikulov looms on a white rocky slope of the Czech-Austrian borderline. Due to its strategic position on an ancient salt commercial road between the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea—and the foresight of its medieval noble rulers—it emerged into Moravia’s Jewish capital. Between the 15th and 19th Century, the majority of the town’s population was Jewish and it served as a religious and jurisdiction center. The famous Maharal of Prague was the chief rabbi of Mikulov for more than 30 years. Mikulov today boasts a preserved Jewish quarter, a Polish-type shul that was recently restored, and one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the country where, among others, the tzadik Rebbe Shmelke of Nikolsburg, a founder of a great Hassidic dynasty, is buried.

 

Suggestion: Vienna is less than 1 hour from Mikulov for additional area touring.

 

Třebíč and Telč

Distance from Prague: 3 hrs

Tour duration: full day

 

This is a small town in the hilly Moravian countryside, which boasts one of the biggest and best-preserved historic Jewish ghettoes in Europe. It spans over half of the town, from the river to the cemetery hill. Here, we will find two shuls, beth din, talmud-tora, orphanage, mikvaot and much more in a number of typically narrow two-story buildings with colorful facades and numerous balconies and passageways. As such, it is the only Jewish sight outside of Israel inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage list.

 

Brno

Distance from Prague: 2.5 hrs

Tour duration: full day

 

The second largest city of the Czech Republic, the Moravian capital Brno, lies in proximity to Vienna on the South, Bratislava on the East, and Krakow to the North. Its rich heritage and friendly people reflect this. Brno has the second strongest Jewish community in the country, with an active synagogue, JCC, kindergarten, mikve and a very strong presence of Israeli medical students. Brno also boasts one of the richest architectural Bauhaus complexes in the world, whose many original residents escaped Hitler in late 1930's only to significantly contribute to the development of Tel Aviv, New York, and Chicago.

 

Polna

Distance from Prague: 2.5 hrs

Tour duration: full day

 

This is a remarkable ghetto founded in the 17th Century, consisting of more than 30 picturesque Jewish houses built around two squares between which a 1680's shul stands. A murder of a Christian girl, Anezka Hruzova, found near Polna in 1899, triggered a wave of anti-Semitic hysteria in which an innocent local Jew, Leopold Hilsner, was falsely accused and sentenced to life, only to be later victoriously defended in court by a young professor, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, who debunked the centuries-lasting blood libel as a nonsense for all Czechs. He later became the first democratic Czechoslovak president.

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