Czech Republic / Bohemia

Roudnice nad Labem

Roudnice nad Labem castle. Photo by Harke – Wikipedia

The large village of Roudnice nad Labem twenty-five miles from Prague was one of the first small centers of Judaism in Bohemia and merits a brief visit. The oldest Jewish quarter, destroyed in the seventeenth century, stood beside the village’s lovely Baroque castle.

The “new ghetto” is to the west of the castle in what is today Havlickova Street. It contains ten or so homes, eventually sold to Christians. The quarter spread while remaining separated from the rest of the town by a barrier. The homes on the south side of Havlickova Street have maintained much of their appeal.

At one time Roudnice nad Labem had three synagogues. Not a trace remains of the oldest synagogue. The second, erected in 1613 and remodeled in 1675, was destroyed at the end of the nineteenth century to make way for the train station. The third, to the north of Havlickova Street, was constructed in 1852 in a neo-Romanesque style and was in use until World War II. It now functions as a warehouse.

Three cemeteries also existed in Roudnice nad Labem. The ancient cemetery is the most moving of them, extending roughly 1200 feet from the existing synagogue. It contains interesting tombstones from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A cemetery can also be visited.