The community began as a settlement of Jewish tradesman in the marshy area northwest of Old Town, near the bend in the Vltava River. Initially, there were two distinct settlements centered around the Spanish Synagogue and the Old-New Synagogue but these gradually merged and were confined in an enclosed ghetto.
The city razed the ghetto in the 1890's due to unsanitary conditions, but thankfully many of the important synagogues, the ceremonial hall, the town hall, and the cemetery were saved. The Jewish quarter avoided much destruction in World War II as the German Nazis preserved the area and did not destroy the synagogues, unlike in other areas in Europe. In fact, they gathered Jewish artifacts from all over Europe with the intent of creating a museum of the extinct Jewish race.