Jewish heritage river cruises

Exploring Jewish heritage by river

If you’re a return visitor to our blog pages, you’ll be familiar with the notion of the themed cruise, an approach to river voyages which involves an itinerary built around a particular leisure interest, such as food, wine or music. On any river cruise, classic architecture and places of historic importance always feature, no matter which itinerary you choose, but a great way to see some truly memorable sights is by exploring the history of one of the world’s oldest and most fascinating religions – Judaism.

A Jewish Heritage river cruise is an obvious choice if you’re Jewish, particularly if you’ve not previously had the opportunity to explore some keys sites of great relevance to your faith, but it’s a great educational and architectural experience for those of any faith or none, and there are a number of itineraries available. Some heritage cruises also benefit from the knowledge of guest lecturers, who will share their knowledge and experience of the faith with fellow passengers throughout the cruise.

Who offers them?
Avalon Waterways’ Blue Danube Discovery Jewish Heritage River Cruise spends 13 days exploring a number of sights related to Judaism along the iconic river as river cruisers travel between Budapest and Prague. AMA Waterways offers a choice of three Jewish Heritage-themed Cruises along the Danube – The Blue Danube Discovery, which last 14 days and the Legendary Danube and Romantic Danube, which are both 12 days long.

Synagogue in Regensburg, Europe's oldest Jewish Ghetto

What you’ll see
Budapest is a key city and a popular starting point for any Danube cruise and home to a number of important Jewish sites, including the largest synagogue in Europe and the city’s Jewish museum. The Dohany St Synagogue, also known as The Great Synagogue is part of the Dohany Street Synagogue complex, where you’ll also find the Old Jewish Cemetery, Holocaust memorial and the Jewish Museum. Dohany Street itself has strong historical Jewish importance, as it formed the border of the Budapest Ghetto.

Bratislava is home to the tomb of the city’s most famous Rabbi, Chatam Sofer, making Slovakia’s capital a popular place to visit on a Jewish heritage cruise, with a heritage tour of the city incorporating a visit to it. Austria’s beautiful capital Vienna is also a popular city to explore, as you can experience the city’s Jewish Quarter and Jewish Museum, as well as visiting the former home of Sigmund Freud.

Chatam Sofer Memorial in Slovakia

Chatam Sofer’s memorial complex in Bratislava, Slovaki

Another popular port of call on a Jewish heritage cruise is Regensburg, where you can explore Germany’s oldest Jewish ghetto as well visit the Jewish cemetery and the site of the Regensburg Synagogue. It’s also where you’ll find the house of Oscar Schindler. A visit to Nuremburg, meanwhile, includes trips to a number of Third Reich landmarks such as the Zeppelin Field and the Justice Palace, where the war crimes tribunal was held following the Second World War.

Prague is a city of great historical Jewish importance and another constant on Danube cruises. It’s the home of Josefov, which was the oldest and largest Jewish ghetto in Europe and today, you’ll find the world’s second largest Jewish museum there. Your heritage tour of the city will also take you to the Old New Synagogue, which is the world’s oldest working synagogue and the Jewish Cemetery and there’s often the option of trips out to nearby Zizkov, where the graves of a number of prominent Jews can be found and Terezin, site of a Second World War concentration camp.

By Simon Brotherton