IMPERIAL CITIES - PRAGUE, VIENNA, & BUDAPEST

Over a Thousand Years of Jewish History and Heritage
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There in Eastern Europe, the Jewish people came into its own. It did not live like a guest in somebody else's home, who must constantly keep in mind the ways and customs of the host. There Jews lived without reservation and without disguise, outside their homes no less than within them.

 

Abraham Joshua Heschel

 

Join Kosher X as we explore the Imperial Cities of Prague, Vienna & Budapest. Our expert guides will bring to life over a thousand years of the regions Jewish history and heritage and the current historical and cultural wonders of this trio of cities. Exciting and educational itineraries and delicious Glatt kosher cuisine will make this an adventure of a lifetime! 

 

Prague

The Czech Republic and it capital Prague is considered the Jewel of Central Europe. People who visit the city are charmed by its beauty and location, and its cultural gems, cultural traditions, and extraordinary millennium-long history. Jews have lived in the Czech Republic and Prague, always an important Jewish cultural center, for at least a thousand years. For much of the time, it was one of the richest and most advanced nations in Europe, with a high degree of religious freedom and cultural development.

 

Prague was largely undamaged by WWII, and the cityscape is stunning. Its compact medieval center remains an evocative maze of cobbled lanes, ancient courtyards, dark passages, all watched over by an 1100-year-old castle. We explore Central Prague’s five historical towns: including Josefov (Old Jewish Quarter), the former Jewish ghetto where some of Europe's best preserved Jewish sites can be explored. In this slice of Stare Mesto half-dozen old synagogues, a ceremonial hall and the powerfully melancholic Old Jewish Cemetery were perversely preserved by Nazi leaders, who declared them to be a 'museum of an extinct race'; instead, all have survived. 

 

Prague was largely undamaged by WWII, and the cityscape is stunning. Its compact medieval center remains an evocative maze of cobbled lanes, ancient courtyards, dark passages, all watched over by an 1100-year-old castle. We explore Central Prague’s five historical towns: including Josefov (Old Jewish Quarter), the former Jewish ghetto where some of Europe's best preserved Jewish sites can be explored. In this slice of Stare Mesto half-dozen old synagogues, a ceremonial hall and the powerfully melancholic Old Jewish Cemetery were perversely preserved by Nazi leaders, who declared them to be a 'museum of an extinct race'; instead, all have survived.  

 

Perhaps the most visceral of Prague's memorials, the Old Jewish Cemetery, Europe's oldest surviving Jewish burial ground has been a monument to dignity in the face of persecution and suffering since the 15th century. Thousands of crumbling stones from other, long-razed cemeteries are heaped atop as many as 100,000 graves; in contrast are the elaborate bas-relief markers from the 17th and 18th centuries. The oldest marker (1439; now replaced with a replica) is that of Avigdor Karo, a chief rabbi and court poet to Wenceslas IV. 

 

Český Krumlov  

On our way from Prague to Vienna we take a short detour to Český Krumlov. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Český Krumlov is famous for its Old Town, with 300 protected medieval buildings, and its castle complex, the second largest in the Czech Republic. Surrounded by rolling hills and the Vltava River,Český Krumlov's cobblestone streets wind past centuries old townhomes, inns, shops, and cafes. Records of the first Jews living in Český Krumlov date back to the 14th century but it was not until the early 20thcentury did its community flourish ending with the start of the war. We take time to visit the newly renovated Cesky Krumlov Synagogue built in Nouveau-Romanesque style in 1909 by the local Jewish community features an eight-sided tower with Torah-shaped windows.  

 

Vienna

There are few European cities whose history is as closely connected with Jewish history as Vienna. Until 1938, Vienna had a flourishing Jewish community with dozens of synagogues and prayer houses. The prevalent anti-Semitism of the time provided fertile grounds for the racism and terror of the Nazis, 140,000 Austrians had to flee the country for “racial reasons”; 65,000 who could not escape were murdered. Coming to terms with the largest crimes in the history of Vienna and Austria is a process that has lasted decades and is still not finished. Since the eighties (the Jewish Welcome Service was founded in 1980), the City of Vienna has made increased efforts to show the history and Jewish heritage in all its complexity.

 

On our tour we visit the Jewish Museum at Palais Eskeles in Dorotheergasse, the Museum at Judenplatz (with the subterranean remains of a medieval synagogue), the Holocaust Memorial at Judenplatz and the Memorial against War and Fascism at Albertinaplatz. A large region with tombs from the time before 1938 can be found in the Jewish section of the Central Cemetery. In Vienna's district Rudolfsheim-Fuenfhaus ten remembrance-sites are dedicated to the former Jewish community. Finally we visit the beautiful City Temple which was built in the years 1825-26 by Josef Kornhäusel, the most eminent architect of the Vienna Biedermeier era. He designed the building's interior and the religious objects as well. Since only Catholic buildings were places of worship permitted to stand adjacent to major streets, the Synagogue was fitted into an apartment complex: for this reason it was the only building, of 94 Jewish synagogues, to survive Reichskristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938) without being completely destroyed.  

 

Beyond Jewish Vienna is a stunning modern city also waiting to be explored. Vienna is old, Vienna is new – and so varied: from the magnificent Baroque buildings to “golden” Art Nouveau to the latest architecture, and over 100 museums beckon. From the Imperial Palace to the Art Nouveau splendor of the Secession, from the magnificent baroque palace Schönbrunn to the Museum of Fine Arts to modern architecture at the Museums Quartier including, more than anywhere else in the world, over 27 castles and more than 150 palaces. Join Kosher Expeditions as we explore by foot this fabulous European destination.  

 

Budapest

With its multifarious and often embittered history, incredible architecture and rich cultural heritage, Hungary's capital deserves its reputation as the 'Paris of Eastern Europe'. It has a complex identity, somewhere between Western luxury and simple traditions. The city straddles a gentle curve in the Danube. It has broad avenues, leafy parks and elaborate bathhouses. It also has a turn-of-the-century feel to it. Today Budapest is one of Europe's most seductive capitals, a cultural door between Asia and Europe. Today the Hungarian Jewish community is the largest in Central and Eastern Europe with most residing in Budapest. Explore the city's old Jewish quarters, synagogues and monuments marking 800 years of Jewish presences in Budapest. 

 

Our expert guides bring this fascinating city to life as we explore both the secular and Jewish history and heritage. Our tour starts in the Castle District where the first Jews of Buda settled in the 13th century. We visit the small medieval synagogue in the former Jewish Street and learn about life during the Turkish occupation in the 15th -17th centuries. Still on the Buda side we can visit the statue of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews in the 2nd World War, and a memorial plaque of Gabor Sztehlo, a Hungarian Evangelical pastor who saved the lives of Jewish children and adults.

 

On the Pest side of the river we walk through the former ghetto area visiting the lovely oriental building of the famous Dohany street synagogue, the third largest in the world including a guided tour of the Jewish Museum. A sign on the wall indicates the site of the building where Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism was born. Behind the synagogue is the Holocaust Memorial, a metallic weeping willow with names engraved on the leaves to remind us of the people who perished in the war. Finally we visit the late art nouveau building of the orthodox synagogue in Kazinczy Street, which is now one of the main Jewish centers for the orthodox community. 

 

Itinerary:

Day 1 (We): Arrive Prague

Day 2 (Th): Prague

Day 3 (Fr): Prague Day

4 (Sa): Prague Shabbat with local Jewish community

Day 5 (Su): Keský Krumlov / Vienna

Day 6 (Mo): Vienna

Day 7 (Tu): Vienna / Budapest

Day 8 (We): Budapest

Day 9 (Th): Budapest / Depart

TRIP DATES

 

Custom group departures (minimum 20 or more participants) are available upon request. Please call us for details. 

ACTIVITIES

 

Kosher X Tours are active tours which include a fair amount of guided walking and exploration. Activities include:

  • City walking tours

  • History & heritage

  • Museum tours

  • Visits & Shabbat with the local Jewish communities

  • Plus so much more!

LAND COST

 

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