The ensemble of the Jewish Quarter, the old Jewish cemetery and the Basilica of St Procopius in Trebíc are reminders of the co-existence of Jewish and Christian cultures from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The Jewish Quarter bears outstanding testimony to the different aspects of the life of this community. St Procopius Basilica, built as part of the Benedictine monastery in the early 13th century, is a remarkable example of the influence of Western European architectural heritage in this region.
Jewish Quarter and St Procopius' Basilica in Trebíc
Justification for Inscription
Criterion ii: The Jewish Quarter and St Procopius Basilica of Trebic bear witness to the coexistence of and interchange of values between two different cultures, Jewish and Christian, over many centuries. Criterion iii: the Jewish Quarter of Trebic is an exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions related to the Jewish diaspora in central Europe.
The Jewish Quarter of Třebíč is 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 Třebíč the 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. Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
A Benedictine Monastery was founded in a strategic position at the crossing of Jihlava River, in 1101. Its existence stimulated the establishment of a market, which brought traders and amongst them also Jews. This was the beginning of a structural development of the monastery together with the settlement, called ‘Podklasteri' (lit. beneath the monastery) in its immediate vicinity, and the town of Trebic itself on the other side of the river.
The Jewish Quarter was sited in the focal point of the commercially expanding settlement, close to the monastery and the ford across the river. Not having any defences, it went through the same fate as the rest of the town, and had to suffer of many attacks and destructions, such as those in the 15th century by the Hungarian king. In favourable years, the site developed and prospered allowing the necessary facilities to be built. In the 16th century, orders were issued to expel the Jews but these were not carried out. As a whole the authorities were here much more tolerant than elsewhere in Europe. In earlier years, the Jews were involved in money lending, but also working in some crafts: tanning, bead firing, glove making, and soap making. From the 17th century on, they were mainly involved in trade and such crafts. There were further destructive events in the subsequent centuries, including fires and frequent floods - in areas close to the river.
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 Zamosti (lit. over the bridge). In the 1920s, the area was merged with the town of Trebic, and the population started being mixed. In 1890, there were nearly 1,500 Jews in this area, but in the 1930s only 300 were of Jewish faith. All Jewish residents were deported during the Second World War, and none are left at present. The houses are now owned by people of non- Jewish faith.
The Benedictine monastery , established in the early 12th century was richly endowed, and an important centre of ecclesiastical life and economic development. The first monastic church was rebuilt during the reign of King Wenceslas I (1230-53), being ready in the 1250s. After some damage in 1468, the church was repaired at the end of the century. During the first half of the 16th century, the monastery was rebuilt as a castle, and fully renovated in baroque style in 1666-84. There were various minor changes also in the basilica, which was then restored by a well-known Czech architect, Frantisek Maxmilian Kanka. The works began in 1726, and restoration of the nave was concluded in 1733. Externally several windows were widened and buttresses added, the south-west tower was rebuilt, and a new west front with two towers was constructed in the style of gothicising baroque. While avoiding any radical ‘restorations', the church was subject to some restoration in the 1920s and 1930s. The southern chapel, which had been destroyed, was rebuilt in the 1950s. Source: Advisory Body Evaluation