The Romanesque Benedictine monastery of the town and the Jewish quarter which, in the monastery’s protection and with its privileges has developed for centuries independently of the merchant town laying on the other side of the river, were included on the list of the World Heritage in 2003 (where the Jewish quarter is allegedly the only Jewish monument outside of Israel). The world heritage of the town is presented by a beautiful site made with characteristic Czech wit, which orders along the route of a walk the images of nine restored houses of the quarter. This site is ingenious also because it gives the impression as if the rest of the 123 surviving houses of the Jewish quarter looked like these nine ones, too.
But this is not the case. Anywhere we leave the tourist path that follows the two former main streets – the Lower and Upper Jewish Street – of the quarter, we see the traces of destruction everywhere. The destruction of the Nazi occupation when the last two hundred and eighty inhabitants of the quarter were deported (only ten out of them returned). The destruction of Communism, when the peasant and proletarian families that had settled in the houses practically weared them out. (It is interesting to see that the “style” of wearing out is so similar to how the same happened in Hungary, but definitely different in appearance how it happens in Romania or in the Italian South.)
But we probably also see the results of a third, much slower destruction. This one had started a century earlier, in the 1850s when, following their legal emancipation, the Jews began to flow to the dynamically evolving cities from the former “privileged towns” which by then had become too narrow and out-of-the-way. This is how the Jewish quarter of Třebíč, which in the Middle Ages with more than two thousand inhabitants was considered one of the four large Moravian Jewish centers, has lost most of its population by the beginning of the 20th century.
The Jewish cemetery is a fifteen minutes walk upwards from the highest point of the Jewish quarter. The path leads through a hillside covered with weeds and stunted robinia trees which is used by the masters of the neighborhood as a running place for their dogs, and then through a recently built small green belt housing estate. No sign indicates the way to the cementery until we arrive to the first houses. Whoever has not read about it in the guide will certainly not set out from the Jewish quarter to look for it.
Nevertheless, if someone is curious of the Jewish Třebíč, he will find it here. In the cemetery which has been in continuous use since the 13th century, 11 thousand tombs have been preserved, the oldest inscribed stones from the 1500s. This is the largest Jewish cemetery of the region. It was spared by the destruction of the occupation, and apparently it has been also taken care in the thereafter following decades. The pebble-stones accumulating at the feet of the tombstones indicate that several tombs are visited even today. It is strange to see that this hillside, the quarter of the dead has remained the only living part of the former Jewish quarter, the real Trebitsch.