Old Jewish cemetery in Kolín
More than 2,600 gravestones have been preserved at the Old Jewish cemetery in the Central Bohemian town of Kolín. This makes it the second most important Jewish cemetery in the Czech Republic, right after the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague.
The cemetery was used from the fifteenth century up until 1887, when a new graveyard was opened in the neighbourhood of Zálabí. Passing through a pseudo-Baroque style gate, the visitor enters into a large 1,128 hectare cemetery that contains 2,693 gravestones. The oldest, gravestones are bear no decorations and have a right-angle shape. They are believed to date all the way back to 1492. More noticeable are the Renaissance and Baroque era gravestones, which are made of sandstone and red marble. The more recent eighteenth and nineteenth century gravestones are simpler in terms of decorations, but they include stylized niche covers, often consisting of labels with acutely selected edges.
Several prominent Jews are buried in the cemetery, including Elias ben Semuel Maisel, a relative of the famous Prague philanthropist and communal leader Mordecai Meisel. It also holds many rabbis, such as Chaim ben Sinai, whose elaborate Renaissance gravestone in the centre of the cemetery is decorated in the style of the gravestone of Sinai’s uncle, the famous Rabbi Löw of Prague.