The Jan Hus Memorial stands at one end of Old Town Square. The huge monument depicts victorious Hussite warriors and Protestants who were forced into exile 200 years after Hus, and a young mother who symbolises national rebirth. The monument was so large that the sculptor designed and built his own villa and studio where the work could be carried out. It was unveiled in 1915 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Jan Hus' martyrdom. The memorial was designed by Ladislav Šaloun and paid for solely by public donations.
Born in 1369, Hus became an influential religious thinker, philosopher, and reformer in Prague. He was a key predecessor to the Protestant movement of the sixteenth century. In his works he criticized religious moral decay of the Catholic Church. Accordingly, the Czech patriot Hus believed that mass should be given in the vernacular, or local language, rather than in Latin. He was inspired by the teachings of John Wycliffe. In the following century, Hus was followed by many other reformers - e.g. Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. Hus was ultimately condemned by the Council of Constance and burned at the stake in 1415. This led to the Hussite Wars.
To the people of Bohemia and other regions around Prague, Jan Hus became a symbol of dissidence and a symbol of strength against oppressive regimes. His opposition to church control by the Vatican gave strength to those who opposed control of Czech lands by the Habsburgs in the 19th century, and Hus soon became a symbol of anti-Habsburg rule. He is said to stand arrogantly in the square in defiance of the cathedral before him. In 1918, a Marian Column that had been erected in the square shortly after the Thirty Years' War was demolished in celebration of independence from the Habsburg empire.
When Czechoslovakia was under Communist rule, sitting at the feet of the Jan Hus memorial became a way of quietly expressing their opinion and opposition against the Communist rule.References:
The Erfurt Synagogue was built c. 1094. It is thought to be the oldest synagogue building still standing in Europe. Thanks to the extensive preservation of the original structure, it has a special place in the history of art and architecture and is among the most impressive and highly rated architectural monuments in Erfurt and Thuringia. The synagogue was constructed during the Middle Ages on the via regia, one of the major European trade routes, at the heart of the historical old quarter very close to the Merchants Bridge and the town hall. Many parts of the structure still remain today, including all four thick outer walls, the Romanesque gemel window, the Gothic rose window and the entrance to the synagogue room.
After extensive restoration, the building was reopened in 2009. On display in the exhibition rooms is an collection of medieval treasures discovered during archaeological excavations. This includes 3,140 silver coins, 14 silver ingots, approx. 6,000 works of goldsmithery from the 13th and 14th centuries and an intricately worked wedding ring of the period, of which only two others are known to exist anywhere in the world. A mikveh (Jewish bath) has been excavated close by (13th/14th century). The Old Synagogue, the Small Synagogue and two Jewish cemeteries together form a network of historical buildings and sites which vividly portray the role of Jewish life in the history of Erfurt.