A flat and easy hike, mostly along wide tracks. The main purpose of this hike, for me, was to visit an old Jewish cemetery which I had spotted on a map. I was aware, before setting out, that many of the adjacent forest paths were likely to be of the type my dog and I generally dislike i.e. flat, long and wide enough for a vehicle… I wasn’t mistaken… However, these road-type tracks are punctuated by short stretches on much prettier paths, and I speed-walked all the boring parts ! The fabulous photographs I managed to take at the cemetery made the outing more than worthwhile for me !
Access : Drive to Voznice and park at the end of the first street on the right, after the huge pond. Fun fact : all the streets in this village are called Voznice which can prove slightly unhelpful. GPS coordinates of the start of the walk: 49°49’1.733″N, 14°12’59.556″E
Difficulty : easy Distance : 5,2 Km Time : 50 min
Detailed itinerary : Follow the green trail markers into the forest then at the junction go sharp left, switching to the blue trail. Keep following this blue trail which is well indicated. Some of the paths are very pretty.
Keep on this blue trail which becomes a tedious wide, endless track, bordered by a fenced deer park. When you emerge from the forest, you will find yourself on the outskirts of Dobříš and after passing the new housing estate, at the far end of the field, you will arrive at the Jewish cemetery.
Perhaps you have already visited the Jewish cemetery next to the Pinkas synagogue in Prague and if so, you were perhaps curious enough to learn a little about how to decipher the incriptions typically found on the tombstones. Finding a star of David usually indicates that it is a man’s headstone and a candelabra, a woman’s. Then on the line where the buried person’s name appears, there is also the father’s name. On my visit to Dobříš, I attempted to date some of the tombstones. This proved challenging as adding up the numbers when I wasn’t entirely sure that I was identifying the sometimes worn, sculpted symbols accurately, meant that the number I was finding could have been completely erroneous. Moreover, it’s then necessary to transcribe the date from Hebrew to the Gregorian calendar. In the end, although it was interesting to give it a try, I turned to more reliable sources for the information I now relay on the Jewish community of Dobříš.
The inscriptions on the tombstones are either in hebrew, german or czech and the oldest tombstone apparently dates from 1650. I ascertained that there was no specific area in Dobřis designated to Jews and prior to their emancipation, while they were not permitted to buy land, people had just allowed them to build houses on their own plots therefore Jewish households were dotted around the town. The community only held their own records from 1866 onwards but according to several sites I visited, during the 18th and the first half of the 19th century, most thrived on their earnings as travelling peddlers. During the Austro-hungarian empire when economic restrictions were lifted, some members of the Dobřis community, like those elsewhere, became teachers, lawyers and doctors. During the period after WWI, when they were granted cultural autonomy in the Republic of Czechoslovakia, the Dobříš, Jewish community, increased by the refugees from Poland that they had welcomed during WWI, grew to be relatively large. However, during WWII, by 1942, most of Dobřiš’s Jews had been rounded up and transported to Terezin ghetto. Sadly, only 8 survived the Holocaust and the community in Dobříš was not revived.
The cemetery however remains intact. I find it particularly beautiful. I took my photographs, just as the strong, Winter sun was dropping in a cloudless, blue sky and marvelled at the exquisite beauty of the ancient tombstones and their distinct, abbreviated inscription from the Book of Samuel.
Finally put your dog on the leash and walk into this very pretty town where you can walk along the river bank towards the magnificent Chateau or have a snack in a cafe or restaurant. You can then take the 317 bus from the square, Dobříš náměstí, back to Voznice ; the journey only takes 10 minutes.
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