A History of the Charming Town of Mikulov

by Kosher River Cruise Kosher Tour Operator
Mikulov, also known as Nikolsburg in German and  ניקאלשבורג Nikolsburg in Yiddish, is a small, pictersque town in the Břeclav District in the South Moravian Region. It is located 18 kilometers west of the town of Břeclav, on the border of Czech Republic and Austria. 

This wonderful  town,  built in a rennaisance and baroque style, was historically the last outpost of influence of the Bohemian Kingdom. Looming on a white, rocky limestone slope, visible from afar , Mikulov became an important trading rest stop already in the early middle ages. 

At the time, many merchants wandered on one of the busiest and most important European commercial roads that once connected the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. Some of the most precious materials of that age were transported between kingdoms; silver, amber and salt. Mikulov became a place to stop overnight, refill stocks, trade some of your goods, and to hit the road again. 

Mikulov Town

The origin of Mikulov dates back to the the beginning of the 12th century, when a market settlement was established. It was promoted to a market town in 1279 and, in 1410, to a city. On the site of a Romanesque and later Gothic fortress, a Baroque castle was built in the 17th century. It still is a dominant landmark of the city until this day, and is visible from miles away. 

Because of this, as well as its other architectural sites and rich history, Mikulov is often referred to as the “Secret Pearl of Moravia”.  It is a gem for travellers and tours. There is also a rich Jewish  history in Mikulov (which we will tackle later), making it a choice spot for kosher tours.

Mikulov was owned by the Liechtenstein noble family from the end of the 13th to the end of the 16th century. Then, the liberal and tolerant Catholic noble family, the Detrichštejns, controlled the city. This lasted until the 19th century, when the town got its independence.  The family still owned the castle and the manor until 1945, when it was burned down during the liberation of Czechoslovakia at the end of WWII. 

Except for the last sons of the Dietrichštejn family who collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War, the family was one of the most tolerant aristrocratic families in the entire Austro-Hungarian empire. Although Catholics themselves, their great tolerance and foresight oppressed religious minorities to settle down in their realm, like Protestants, baptists – and Jews.

Mikulov Castle

The Nikolsburg Jews

The beginnings of the Jewish community date back to 1421, when Duke Albrecht V. expelled all Jews from Vienna and Lower Austria. Due to its proximity, a large number of those refugees found a new home in Mikulov. Another wave of Jewish immigrants occurred during the reign of Albrecht's son, Ladislav Pohrobek. He banished the Jews from the Moravian royal towns. At the end of the 16th Century, Mikulov had emerged into Moravia’s Jewish capital. 

Between the 15th and 19th century, the majority of the town’s population was Jewish. It served as a religious and jurisdiction center of the crownland. The famous Maharal of Prague was the chief rabbi of Mikulov nearly 30 years. Mikulov today boasts a preserved Jewish quarter with around 80 original houses, little lanes, mikvaot and yeshivot, as well as a unique Polish-type shul that was recently restored. 

One of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Central Europe can be found at the rocky outskirts of the city. Prominent figures such as the tzadik Rebbe Shmelke of Nikolsburg, founder of a great Hassidic dynasty, and the wunder-rebbe Mordechai Bennet, are buried amongst roughly four thousand unique tombstones that date as far as the 16th Century.

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Created on Dec 5th 2017 21:07. Viewed 206 times.


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