By: Gracie Schutt and Audrey Boyd
Millions of people travel to Prague each year in the summer heat, waiting in long lines, and paying money to see famous cemeteries such as the Old Jewish Cemetery located in the Jewish Quarter.
Little do tourists know that just a few metro stops away, lies a hidden cemetery called Olśany, with just as much history to offer.
The Olśany Cemetery is located in Flora, Prague. It is tucked behind the Atrium Flora mall, away from the hustle of the city. This cemetery is full of rich history and art nouveau monuments and also has sentimental family ties.
Local Czech woman who declined to include her name, explained the only reason she knows about the Olśany Cemetery is because she used to pass it on her way to work every morning. She believes that by the time the tourists visit the main attractions in the city, most do not have time to visit Olśany. Jewish shop worker, Zuzana Brodová, says “People may visit because they have family buried there.”
Many visitors at Olśany are lighting candles and cleaning tombs to show respect and remembrance for their deceased relatives. A mother, son, and daughter were cleaning and preparing a tomb with candles on a recent afternoon.
The Old Town Cemetery is popular because of the location and reputation. However, Albert Strejček, a souvenir booth owner at this cemetery, believes that people may visit this site more because of the legend of Rabbi Loew and the luck he brings. Loew was a 16th-century scholar, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher. He is credited with constructing the Prague Golem, the legendary protector of Prague’s Jews.”
Tourists are inclined to visit famous graves, but not many know that the world-famous Franz Kafka is buried in the hidden Olśany.
One tourist explained she would like to visit the Olśany Cemetery, had she known about it. She stated that her visit at the Old Jewish Cemetery encouraged her to read and learn more and that it was a “very touching, very emotional” place.
There is value to be found in both cemeteries, depending on what people are looking for in an experience.
Whether it is family members or curious tourists, the center of town and the outskirts will both provide visitors with a sobering reminder of Prague’s connection to the Jewish community, explained a local Jewish shop worker.
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