The old Jewish cemetery in Žižkov (known as the First Israeli Cemetery in Olšany) was established in 1680 as a plague burial ground for the Jewish Community of Prague. Burials took place here during another plague epidemic in the 1820s and then on a regular basis from 1787 until 1890, when a ban on burials within the city came into force.

The Jewish cemetery is an historic site of great significance. It is the resting place for some 40,000 persons, including a number of prominent rabbis and scholars. The most visited grave is that of the Chief Rabbi of Prague, Ezechiel Landau (1713-1793) [8], also known by the name Noda bi-Yehuda, whose tombstone was fully restored in 1993 (to mark the anniversary of his death), together with those belonging to other members of his family. Other prominent Jewish figures and representatives of the Enlightenment and contemporary Jewish intelligentsia are buried here, such as Landau’s pupil and member of the rabbinic board, Eleazar Fleckeles (1754-1826) [15], the physician Jonas Jeiteles (1735-1806) [2], his son Baruch Jeiteles (1762-1813) [4] and the historian David Podiebrad (1803-1882) [18]. Large representative tombstones mark the graves of the first local Jewish entrepreneurs – Joachim Popper (1731-1795) [9] and members of the Jerusalem [10, 11, 12], Pribram [13, 14] and Dormitzer [16] families. As far as tombstone designs are concerned, the cemetery covers a broad range of styles, from Baroque, Empire and Romantic to the common forms of the latter half of the 19th century.

The original cemetery was situated on a much larger area than the accessible and open part containing graves today. In the early 1960s it was mostly discontinued and converted into a park, known today as Mahlerovy sady.  In the second half of the 1980s, the Žižkov television transmitter tower was built by the Communist regime, devastating the cemetery.  A large part of the cemetery was dug up, graves were knocked down and broken and the rest of the cemetery was filled in a turned into a park.

In 1999, the Jewish Museum in Prague took over the administration of the preserved part of the Jewish Cemetery on Fibichova Street, which is a protected monument. Following essential structural repairs and basic restoration work, the cemetery was opened to the public in September 2001. The restoration of the tombstones continued and 164 tombstones and 4 tombs had been restored by the end of 2013, costing a total of 4 million Czech crowns.

Presently, the cemetery is under the administration of the Jewish Community in Prague.