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The medieval mikveh

Mikveh - Jewish bath

The medieval mikveh is found on the site of the former Lázeňské náměstí (Bath Square). The Jewish mikveh served for symbolic ritual purification for Orthodox Jews before the beginning of the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays. It was used by women mostly following menstruation, before their wedding and after childbirth.

The mikveh is described in the Old Testament. Certain rules applied to its construction, meaning that the appearance of the mikveh is roughly the same whether seen in excavations from Biblical times and the few surviving medieval baths in Europe or in new structures.

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The mikveh is, in essence, a brick tank in the shape of a cube located in the basement or ground floor of a house in the synagogue district. 5–7 steps generally lead down to the bottom of the mikveh. The bath has to contain clean natural water, must have an inflow and outflow of water, and must be deep enough for an adult person to be completely submerged.

The institution of ritual baths must have existed in all Jewish communities in Moravia, with perhaps a number of them in the larger ghettos. The mikveh in Mikulov was discovered by chance during archaeological research ordered before the beginning of new building work inside the town conservation area.

It was found in the cellar of a residential building, perfectly preserved, with merely a cave-in caused by a collapsed roof. It was estimated to be three hundred years old, which means that it must have been built during the 17th century.
The mikveh in Mikulov has been preserved thanks to the work of the Association of Friends of Jewish Culture in Mikulov. Mikulov Municipal Authority has undertaken the reconstruction itself, with the areas leading to the cellar and the mikveh itself being repaired and a new entrance to these subterranean areas being constructed. The mikveh has been opened to the public.

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