Jewish Quarter and St Procopius
Jewish Quarter And St Procopius' Basilica In Třebíč
Cultural Czechia Europe And North America Trebic District, Vysocina Region

The Jewish Quarter of Třebíčis an exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions related to the Diaspora in central Europe, and bears witness to the coexistence of and interchange of values between two different cultures, Jewish and Christian, over many centuries.

The World Heritage site is in the town of Třebíč, and it has three distinct components: the Jewish Quarter, the Jewish cemetery and St Procopius Basilica, all situated on the north bank of the River Jihlava.

The Jewish Quarter rises from the river up on the hillside. The urban layout is characterized by two main streets, linked with the riverside through a number of small medieval alleys, some of which go through the houses. The buildings are vernacular in character, consisting generally of a vaulted ground floor and one or two upper floors with wooden ceilings. Some of the facades have features dating from the Renaissance or Baroque period, but many are of later date, until the 20th century. Because of political constraints, the Jewish quarter was limited in space. Its natural limits meant that this area was never fully fenced, although there was separation (eruf ) until 1875, after which Jews were free to move and buy property elsewhere. As a result, wealthy people moved out, and the area remained in the hands of the poor. Characteristically the area is organized in condominiums. At street level there was often a shop or a workshop, the upper levels being reserved for residential use. There is no special typology for a Jewish house, which is characterized more in terms of the use of a limited space and the condominium structures. This leads to linkage of different houses through acquisition of spaces from neighbouring buildings. In Třebíčthe area has preserved all essential social functions, synagogues, schools, etc., as well as a leather factory.

The oldest mention of a synagogue is in 1590;the present Old (Front) Synagogue, from 1639-42, a simple Baroque building, is today used as a Hussite church. The New (Rear) Synagogue dates from the 18th century;it has been restored and serves as a museum and meeting room. In the 16th century, orders were issued to expel the Jews from the Jewish Quarter but these were not carried out. As a whole the authorities were more tolerant here than elsewhere in Europe. Earlier the Jews were involved in money lending, but they also worked in some crafts (tanning, bead-firing, glove-making, soap-making). From the 17th century they were mainly involved in trade and crafts of this kind. From the beginning, the Jewish Quarter had its own self-government with an elected magistrate and two councillors. In 1849, it had its own administration led by a mayor, and it was called Zamošti ('over the bridge'). In the 1920s the area was merged with Třebíč, and the population became progressively mixed. In 1890, there were some 1,500 Jews in this area, but in the 1930s only 300. All Jewish residents were deported during the Second World War, and none are left at present.

The Jewish Cemetery is situated above the Jewish Quarter, behind the hill. Access for carriages was arranged via a special road. The current cemetery has two parts, the first part from the 15th century and the second from the 19th. There are some 4,000 stones and some of them bear important carvings. At the entrance there is a ceremonial hall, built in 1903, which is still intact.

St Procopius Basilica is situated in a good position on the hill with a view over the whole of Třebíč. It was originally a monastic church (13th century) and part of a Benedictine monastery (founded in 1101). Now it is linked with the castle built on the site of the monastery after its destruction in the 16th century. This is partly due to the mixture of Romanesque and early Gothic elements. It is a triple-choired, three-aisled basilica with an elongated presbytery, an open north porch with square plan, and two western towers. Beneath the east end and the presbytery, there is a crypt with pointed rib vaults. The basilica is built from granite and sandstone. The exterior of the basilica is in square-cut granite blocks. The west elevation is in Baroque style, with 'Gothicized' features in it, and it has plaster rendering. The walls of the interior are now bare, although some traces of original plaster have been discovered in the choir. The nave has Gothicized Baroque vaults with rendered fields.