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A People on the Move

Submitted on Mon, 03-November-2014

In spite of a turbulent history, the remarkable legacy of the Jewish faith is readily found all over Europe. Whether you practice Judaism or not, there is much to discover and enjoy in Europe’s many Jewish heritage sites.

Synagogue of Saint Mary the White, Santa Maria la Blanca synagogue, Toledo, Spain
Synagogue of Saint Mary the White, Santa Maria la Blanca synagogue, Toledo, Spain

Discover the ancient origins of Judaism and follow a winding path through centuries of persecution, resilience and cultural enlightenment. The journey is likely to be just as inspiring as the destinations themselves. One of the world’s most enduring religions, many countries have been touched by Judaism.

Immerse yourself in the Sephardic culture in the Jewish quarter of Córdoba.
Immerse yourself in the Sephardic culture in the Jewish quarter of Córdoba.

Start in Spain by following the Caminos de Sefarad. Designated as a Major Cultural Route by the Council of Europe, this network of Jewish quarters offers a unique look into the lasting impressions made by Sephardic (Hispanic) Jews in the Middle Ages leading up to the Spanish Inquisition. Visit ancient synagogues and snap photos of preserved monuments. Explore cobblestone-lined Jewish quarters in the cities of Cáceres, Córdoba and Toledo and discover even more sites throughout the country.

This textile is just one historic piece you’ll find in Prague’s Jewish Museum.

After their expulsion from Spain and France in the late 15th century, many Jews emigrated to Central and Eastern Europe. They brought their distinctive culture and traditions with them to flourish in Belgium, Austria, Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Start by exploring the Jewish Museum of Belgium’s impressive collection of Jewish art and artifacts dating back to the 19th century. Pause in reverence at the memorials of Austria’s Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp complex. Sample delicious kosher foods while listening to Klezmer music at the Jewish Cultural Festival in Krakow, Poland. Visit the Jewish Gallery in Berlin to peruse artwork by internationally renowned Jewish artists such as Chagall and Kaplan. Stroll through Prague’s preserved Jewish Town, and find out what life was like for Jews in Czech lands at the Jewish Museum.

See the memorial statue that stands tall at Mauthausen-Gusen.
See the memorial statue that stands tall at Mauthausen-Gusen.

One could easily fill a month-long itinerary visiting Europe’s many culturally important sites dedicated to the Jewish faith. Whether you see a few or see them all, you’re sure to have a religious experience in following the fascinating and inspiring routes of Jewish heritage through Europe.