Visiting Franz Kafka’s Grave

Franz Kafka played a large role in my high school English experience, shaping my literary interests and turning me into the cynical, elitist, existentialist book-snob I was in the 10th and 11th grades (yes, I was *that* person in AP English… such a suck-up). Kafka was one of my first experiences dipping into surrealistic and absurdist writing, and I am still drawn to those genres today.

Franz Kafka was born in Prague, and the hospital where he was born was actually turned into a cafe, where the food is overpriced but the location is amazing. Prague also is home to the Kafka museum, which I haven’t gotten a chance to visit yet, but I have seen the wonderful monument to Kafka that Czech artist David Cerny made right outside the museum. In case you’re wondering, it’s a statue that is basically two men pissing water onto a fountain in the shape of the Czech Republic. I think his thoughts on one of the Czech Republic’s greatest historical figures is pretty clear…

So, I’m currently working at a hostel in Prague, which is a whole crazy experience that I’ll save for it’s own post. While doing some research about my neighborhood, I found out that Franz Kafka is buried really close to my hostel. The same day I found this out, I hopped on a bus and headed over to Prague 3. I started off in the Olsany Cemetery with my friend Jewel (who I met in Angloville and who was visiting Prague). 

The graves were pretty old and covered in leaves.  At one point, a black cat even crossed the path! If you guys haven’t noticed already, I really like cemeteries and why I like to call ‘dark tourism’, so the cat added a little mystery and magic to the experience. 

Across the street is the New Jewish Cemetery where Kafka is buried. When you walk in, you’ll see a sign pointing you to the right. Walk along the wall and after about 1 or 2 minutes, the grave will be on your right.

The grave is modestly sized and Kafka is honored and remembered with a traditional Jewish death practice of leaving stones on and near the grave site. A lot of the pebbles had writing and names on them. The custom of leaving stones and rocks on Jewish graves is common all over the world, and I really think it’s beautiful since these things last much longer than flowers. 

“He is terribly afraid of dying because he hasn’t yet lived.”
― Franz Kafka

It was a really enjoyable day trip for me – walking around a peaceful, beautiful old cemetery and then standing over Kafka’s grave reading some excerpts from a few of his short stories, a suggestion that was given to me by one of my best friends and fellow literature/sci-fi/everything nerd, Jorge. 

“I have spent all my life resisting the desire to end it.”
― Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena

Kafka grave2

I dream of a grave, deep and narrow, where we could clasp each other in our arms as with clamps, and I would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us any more”
― Franz Kafka, The Castle

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