JEWISH MERCHANTS BALKAN TRAIL

From: 3180 € | Duration: 13 days

A truly historical and geographical 2 weeks of ever-changing landscapes, tastes, smells and always friendly and welcoming hosts. Immerse yourself into centuries past, and walk in the footsteps of Jewish merchants that connected Europe and the East.

15 days/14 nights
4* and 5* hotels
4 countries
5 World Heritage sites
A/C minivan or car with driver
English speaking driver/tour leader

4 countries: Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia&Herzegovina, Montenegro

Day 1: Zagreb
Day 2: Plitvice lakes National park
Day 3: Anatevka – Jasenovac – Ilok
Day 4: Ilok – Belgrade
Day 5: Belgrade
Day 6: Belgrade – Sarajevo
Day 7: Sarajevo
Day 8: Mostar – Stolac – Dubrovnik
Day 9: Dubrovnik
Day 10 Kotor/Montenegro
Day 11 Dubrovnik – Split
Day 12: Split
Day 13: Split – Krka national park
Day 14: Zadar – Zagreb
Day 15: Zagreb

Day 1.
Zagreb, the capital of Croatia with a 1000 years of history, friendly people and beautiful parks, will surprise you with it’s rich and fascinating Jewish history.

Take a walk through ages, starting at 11th century foundation of Zagreb, over to the 14th century and the first arrival of Jews to Zagreb, through the golden years of late 19th and early 20th century, when Zagreb developed rapidly, with Jewish community reaching it’s peak – just before almost completely perishing in the Shoah.

We will visit Mirogoj, one of the most famous cemeteries in Europe, designed in 1876 by Herman Bolle, including it’s Jewish section, that tells the silent story of the Zagreb Jewish community.

DID YOU KNOW? Chaim Bar Lev, Fiorello La Guardia, Academy Award (Oscar), Valium, Theodore Herzl, Goodyear Blimp – all have Croatian Jewish connection…discover it with us!

Recommended: Hotel Esplanade 5*; Sheraton Hotel Zagreb 5*; Westin Zagreb 5*

Day 2
A day trip to Plitvice lakes National park is usually one of the highlights on anyone’s visit to Croatia. 16 lakes, numerous waterfalls (how many will you count?), a pleasant walk along the lakes in the lush European forest, endless “Kodak moments”, local food on the road. The drive takes us through some of the most beautiful landscapes and cleanest rivers of Croatia.On the way we will stop at the village of Rastoke, another Croatia hidden gem, with houses and watermills built above the rushing waters of two small karst rivers. Late afternoon return to Zagreb.

Day 3
Anatevka – Morning departure to the village of Lekenik, near Zagreb, where “Fiddler on the roof” was filmed, back in 1971. Visit the filming location, where some of the original structures are still preserved. Have your photo taken at the window where Tevye served his milk, meet the locals who were extras in the movie, and discover the village’s hidden Jewish history.

Continue to the memorial centre on the site of the former Jasenovac concentration camp, where most of Croatian Jewry, among others, perished during the Shoah. The memorial was built in cooperation with the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Drive through the town of Vukovar, one of the symbols of the Homeland war ending the day in the picturesque town of Ilok, near the Serbian border.

Stay@: Villa Iva 4*

Day 4
Cross the border to Serbia, arriving to Novi Sad at lunch time. Visit the beautiful synagogue, built in 1909., recognised as a cultural monument since 1991. Late afternoon arrival to Serbian capital, Belgrade. We will spend the evening in one of Belgrade’s famous bohemian nightspots, with a Gypsy orchestra and local delicacies, enjoying the atmosphere just as it was when the famous Orient Express train stopped here on the way to Istanbul.

Stay@: Square Nine Hotel 5*; Metropol Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel 5*; Hyatt Regency 5*

Day 5
Walking tour of Belgrade, visiting Dorćol – the old Jewish quarter, the synagogue and the Jewish museum. Meet the members of the local Jewish community. Discover the metropolis of the Balkans, with it’s rich history, famous restaurants and bohemian night life, stretching back centuries. An eclectic mix of the Orient and Europe, beautiful views and cultural treasures.

Day 6
Leave Belgrade in the morning, driving through the rugged countryside of Bosnia, along the same historical route once used by horse caravans to deliver the goods from the east, towards Sarajevo, and further south – to the Adriatic coast. Enjoy the evening in the old centre of Sarajevo, discovering it’s smells, tastes and sounds that gave Sarajevo the name – Jerusalem of the Balkans.

Stay@: Hotel Europe 5*; Hotel Radon Plaza 5*; Hotel Bristol 4*; Hotel President 4*

Day 7
We start the day with the departure towards “The Tunnel“, one of the symbols of the Siege of Sarajevo, that lasted 3 years. Continue along the banks of Miljacka river, learning about Sarajevo glory years and centuries, visit the starting point of World War I, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in 1914, and visit the Jewish community and the Jewish museum. Free afternoon followed by a dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 8
Drive south, across Bosnian mountains, moving towards Herzegovina area, visiting Mostar and it’s famous Old Bridge, an UNESCO World Heritage site. Further along Neretva river, visit the town of Stolac, where thr famous Rabbi Moshe Danon was buried, and whose grave is still kept by a local Muslim family. Once a pilgrimage place, the Rabbi’s grave today is a protected cultural monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina. End our day in Dubrovnik, on the Adriatic coast.

Stay@: Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik 5*; Hotel Excelsior 5*; Hotel Bellevue 5*

Day 9

Jewish merchants from Albania are mentioned in local archives in 1368. After the Spanish expulsion in 1492 Dubrovnik became an important transit centre for refugees travelling to Balkan cities under Turkish rule. Jews were allowed to settle in Dubrovnik and were given customs privileges to encourage transit trade. Jews dealt mainly in textiles, silk, wool, leather, and spices. They were allowed to live inside the walls in 1538, but in 1546 a ghetto was established in a small street (still called the Jewish street) enclosed by walls, and the gate was locked at night. Visit the museum, in the second oldest Sephardic synagogue in Europe showing the synagogue artefacts and other items belonging to the past. The well-preserved cemetery contains 200 old gravestones, including that of Rabbi Jacob Pardo, who died there in 1819. Sunset walk along the monumental city Walls are a perfect prelude to evening stroll along Stradun – the main city merchants street.

Day 10

A day trip to Montenegro takes us along the majestic Kotor bay, towards the old traders port of Kotor, hidden beneath the steep Montenegrin mountain slopes, that gave the country it’s name. A one time rival to Dubrovnik and Venice, Kotor has changed many rulers and owners, and a different defensive structures are still overlooking the city. The bravest among us will climb the few hundreds stairs to get to the top of the city walls, with a view that fully justifies the effort.

Day 11
Drive along the southern Dalmatian coast, is considered the most beautiful ride in Croatia. The indented coastline, hundreds of Islands glittering in the sun, small fishermen villages scattered along the shore will follow us on our way to Split.

Stay@: Cornaro Hotel 4*; Piazza Heritage Hotel 4*; Hotel Vestibul Palace 4*

Day 12
After breakfast start with the walking tour of Split, visiting all the important sights that are both stunning and have a historic and cultural significance for the development of the city and the Community. In fact, the general tour of Split cannot go without mentioning the role that the Jewish Community has played in the cultural and economical development of the city.

The tour includes the visit to the 1700-year-old Roman Palace. It is the home of most of the city sights like the Basements, beautiful Roman squares and statues, The Bell Tower, Jupiter’s temple, the former Jewish ghetto, the synagogue, the City Museum and many more. Throughout the Palace there are plenty of details that could keep you occupied for hours. Within few minutes walking distance of the Palace there are a few Renaissance squares, the City Promenade and some interesting markets. A bit further is the Old Jewish Cemetery, up on the Marjan hill, from where you can see the whole city. It takes about 10-15 minutes to reach it.

Day 13
Krka national park is another nature wonder in Croatia that attracts many visitors every year. The karst river, rushing through the sediment rock, with beautiful waterfalls and abundant wildlife are a perfect place for a 2 hours nature walk. Continue to the old Adriatic port of Zadar, continuously settled from pre-Roman times. Zadar is a place where Adriatic history and present mix perfectly, where it’s historic peninsula hosts the famous, modern-day work of wonder The Sea Organ – a perfect background music for “the most beautiful sunset in the world”, as claimed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Stay@: Art Hotel Kalelarga 4*; Hotel Bastion 4*

Day 14
Today we departure for Zagreb, thus completing the full circle across the Balkans. Arrival to Zagreb in the early afternoon, with free afternoon, and farewell dinner in on of the local restaurants.

Stay@ Hotel Esplanade 5*; Sheraton Hotel Zagreb 5*; Westin Zagreb 5*

Day 15
Departure home.

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