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A People on the Move

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.

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From Outlawed to Outpouring

Christianity has changed over the centuries. Europe has been at the crux of that change. Rome is the heart of the Catholic Church. Germany is the birthplace of the Reformation. Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania monasteries have been greatly influenced by Orthodox Christianity. From the underground religious practices during the Roman Empire to the modern acceptance of all types of faith, Christianity has evolved in Europe, and is worth exploring today more than ever.

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Best European Summer Getaways

If you’re looking to spend your summer vacation in Europe, look no further. The weather in and around the Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula is perfect in summer; it’s just warm enough to remind you what season it is without roasting you. The Douro valley in Portugal is famous for its wines, and what better time to sample it than summer? Mild temperatures make for ideal for sipping outside or on a cruise ship. Port wine was once shipped on the Douro River, from the steep wine valleys inland, to Porto. Difficult to navigate in the past, the river is now a smooth ride for cruise boats that offer breathtaking views of the Douro Valley, topped with visits to regional monuments, folk music and, of course, wine.