Walls of Theresienstadt ghetto

Theresienstadt was surrounded by ramparts with bastions

Theresienstadt was originally a military garrison surrounded by two sets of brick walls with a deep moat in between them. Jutting out from the outside wall were two large bastions on the east and west sides, two medium sized bastions on the north and south sides and two small bastions at the northwest and northeast corners.

The walls and basions are very close to the highway, as shown in the photo below.

Highway goes past former military garrison at Theresienstadt

Gate through the wall around the former fortress at Theresienstadt

The photo above shows the gate into the former Theresienstadt ghetto, taken from inside the walled town.

The photograph below was taken outside the ghetto; it shows the other side of the gate pictured above; you can see the red rooftop of the Magdeburg Barracks in the background.

Gate into walled town with moat in foreground on the left

I began my tour of the former Theresienstadt ghetto in 2000 by taking a bus from Prague to the town of Terezin. The first bus left for Terezin at 7 a.m. and the next bus was not until 3 hours later. For the return trip, buses left every hour, starting at 1:30 in the afternoon. There is an information booth at the bus station where you can get the bus schedule from an English speaking person. The town is now called by the Czech name Terezin, so don't make the mistake of asking for a bus ticket to Theresienstadt. After more than a thousand years of being ruled by the Germans, and two world wars being fought over who would own this territory, it is understandable that the Czechs do not take kindly to anyone calling their cities by the original German names.

When Theresienstadt was built in 1780, it was designed as a fortress in which soldiers of the Austrian Empire could stave off a possible attack by their enemies, the Prussians, who ruled the territory only 60 kilometers to the north.

Sudeten mountain range in the background

It took ten years to complete the building of the Theresienstadt garrison. It was never used in wartime as a fortress and eventually the garrison became a small town in Austria-Hungary with a population of 3,500 people. After World War I, the Austrian empire was broken up and the town was included in the new country of Czechoslovakia. At that time, the name was changed to Terezin, the Czech version of the original name of Theresienstadt.

During World War II, the Nazis changed the name back to Theresienstadt and turned the whole town into a transit camp for thousands of Jews who were sent from here to the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

The moats between the fortification walls, which were planted with vegetables when the town was a ghetto, are now flower gardens or horse pastures.

Flowers grow in the dry moat where the vegetable garden used to be

Ghetto Museum

Town Square

Old Buildings

Restaurants and Hotel

Children's Barracks

Adult's Barracks

Historic Buildings

Art Museum

Map of Ghetto