The first written record of the presence of Jews in Mikulov dates back to 1369. The local Jewish community kept growing until it was the largest in Moravia – in the mid-19th century it comprised 620 systemized families of 3,700 individuals, i.e. 39% of the then city’s population. In the past, Mikulov represented the spiritual, cultural and political centre of Moravian Jews. From the mid-16th century to 1851 Mikulov was the residential city of the Moravian landesrabbiner. This rabbinical position was successively held by Jehuda Löw ben Becalel, widely known as Maharal (c. 1525–1609), Menachem Mendel Krochmal (1600–1661), David Oppenheimer (1664–1736), Shmuel Shmelke Horowitz (1726–1778) and Mordecai Benet (1753–1829). The local yeshiva enjoyed outstanding reputation all around Europe. The Museum of Jewish culture in Moravia and Silesia resided in Mikulov in 1935–1938. The Jewish Community of Mikulov was restored after the end of WWII for a short period of time.

The Jewish quarter (Fig.1) is an extensive 33-acre area situated at the western side of the Zámecký Hill, its streets nowadays called Husova, Zámecká, Alfonse Muchy, U staré brány and Na jámě. Out of the initial 317 houses 90 have been left after demolitions, including the following buildings of former Jewish institutions: two Jewish schools at No. 4 and No. 48 Husova Street, an old people's home at 52 Husova Street and a cistern for the ritual bath in the basement of the house at 8 Husova Street. Some of the buildings, still with the renaissance and baroque disposition, feature interesting architectonic details, such as corner archways. Since 2000, all the attractive sights have been presented as part of an educational trail winding through the Jewish quarter.

The Upper Synagogue (Fig.2) at 13 Husova Street, built in 1550, was expanded in 1689. After the fire the synagogue received a new baroque design in 1719–1723 (perhaps with the contribution of the magistrate architect Christian Alexandrer Oedtl), in which the four cupolas vault together to form a four-column pillar in the middle of the hall, a rostrum – almemor (Fig.3). The synagogue is the last preserved temple of the Polish or Lvov design in the Czech Republic. After having been completely restored in 1977–1989, the Upper Synagogue nowadays serves the town’s cultural needs, holding an exposition covering the history of the local Jewish community and featuring the preserved relics. On its front wall a memorial plaque to the victims of the Holocaust was mounted and unveiled in 1995. The synagogue is open to public during summer (from 24 June to 30 September) daily except Mondays from 10:00 AM to 5:00. Contact: Mrs. Picková, phone +420 519 511 932, also see www.rmm.cz. Out of the initial 12 Jewish Houses of God the mass of the former Michlštetrov Synagogue from 1697 (initially situated in the courtyard of the house at 52 Husova Street, nowadays a part of the Templ Hotel) and a torso of the Ashkenazy Synagogue from 1675 (in the courtyard of the houses at the No. 18–20 Alfonse Muchy Street) have been preserved; the other synagogues were closed down and dismounted in the recent 150 years.

The Jewish cemetery at the north edge of the ghetto in the slope of Kozí hrádek was founded in the 15th century and expanded several times. The area, almost 5 acres large, consists of around 4,000 tombstones, the oldest readable of which dates back to 1605. The cemetery is extremely valuable, as it comprises originally renaissance, baroque and classicist tombstones, whose creative realisation and ornamentation became the model for other South-Moravian cemeteries. At the Rabbis’ Hill (Fig.4) the noted learned landesrabbiner are buried – their graves attract pilgrims from all over the world. Within the area there are also the memorial to the soldiers killed in WWI and the memorial to the 21 Hungarian Jews murdered in 1945. A hall of mourning in eclectic design from 1898 (Fig.5), built by the architect Max Fleischer, is situated by the cemetery entrance. Inside an exposition covering the Jewish Mikulov and the Jewish burial rituals can be visited. The Jewish cemetery is open during summer (July and August) daily from 10:00 AM to 12:00 AM and from 01:00 PM to 6:00 PM. At other times, it is possible to borrow the key to the cemetery in the information centre on Náměstí Square (phone +420 519 510 855) or in the Merlin travel agency near Náměstí Square (phone +420 519 510 388).

Mikulov is the birthplace of the lawyer and writer Josef von Sonnenfelse (1733–1817, Vienna) and the poet Hieronymus Lorm (1821–1902, Brno).

Further information on the sights and landmarks of the city and its surroundings can be found at www.mikulov.cz.



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