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Plzen: The European Capital of Culture 2015 & Jewish heritage sites

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JEWISH HERITAGE DOCUMENTARY ON JLTV

On May 7th, Czech Tourism North America in cooperation with JLTV launched the new 90 minute documentary show entitled “The Jews of Czech Lands” – exploring the 1,000 year history of Jewish people living in the Czech lands. The Jews of Czech Lands is part of the JLTV’s franchise “Air, Land & Sea” will air seven times in primetime over the next twelve months. The documentary show will take viewers to the most important Jewish Heritage Sites in the Czech Republic, such as Prague Jewish Quarter, the concentration camp in Terezin and the Moravian towns of Telc, Trebic, Boskovice and Mikulov.

One of the highlights of the tour is the visit to the city of Plzen in Central Bohemia, which is well-known for its Pilsner Urquel beer. Plzen is an easy day trip from Prague. It is located just 90 minutes southwest of the capital by bus or train. In Plzen you will find the Great Synagogue designed by Max Fleischer that was built in 1890-92 in the Neo-Romanesque style. This synagogue is after the Jerusalem and Budapest synagogues, the third largest in the world. It’s a testament to the size and vitality of the Jewish community, which all but perished under the Nazi occupation during World War II. The building is now used for concerts and art shows.

PLZEN- THE EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE 2015

Apart from being the beer capital of the Czech Republic, Plzen will become a cultural metropolis in 2015 as the city was selected to be The European Capital of Culture!

The city of Plzen will be hosting 650 special events including art exhibitions, live theater and concerts of artists from around the world in 2015. Plzen will also present some of its cultural personalities to the world. There will be a special exhibition featuring the Czech puppet maker and illustrator Jiri Trnka, four interiors designed by the renowned architect Adolf Loos will be on public display, and visitors will also get a chance to see an exhibition of Plzen-born artist Bohumir Lindauer.

Local spaces, such as Svetovar, the city’s famous brewery, will be transformed as an exhibit venue. Further, in a special program called Imagination Factories, Plzen’s historic factories will be transformed into beautiful cultural premises.

PRAGUE JEWISH QUARTER AND THE LEGEND OF GOLEM

Your journey to the Czech Republic would not be complete without visiting the Prague Jewish Quarter of Josefov and exploring the Jewish Museum of Prague! Founded in 1906, the Jewish museum includes the Jewish cemetery and 5 synagogues with Jewish relics including specialized library and the Holocaust Archive.

The Old-New Synagogue was built in the 13th century in Gothic style, belonging to one of the oldest synagogues in the world. Rabbi Judah Loew is celebrated in legends as the creator of the Golem, an artificial man, made of clay from the banks of the Vltava River. According to one of the legends, the Old-New Synagogue is the resting place of the legendary Golem. In 1580, during the reign of Emperor Rudolf II., Rabbi Loew brought the Golem to life in order to defend the Prague’s Jewish quarter of Josefov from anti-Semitic attacks. However, the existence of a Golem is sometimes a mixed blessing. It is said that the Golem’s remains have been stored in a coffin in the attic of the Old-New Synagogue in Prague and it can be summoned again if needed. So watch out!

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