Do not hesitage to give us a call. We are an expert team and we are happy to talk to you.
+30 (2310) 27 33 20
Since the classical antiquity Jewish communities were present in the most important Greek cities, mostly as merchants trying to get advantage of the commercial development of the Greek world. The campaign of Alexander the Great in Asia opened the gates of communication between the East and the West and many more Jews arrived in Greece seeking for a better fortune. In the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ we can read about the missionary journeys of St Paul (Saul from Tarsus), who preached in the local Synagogues to the local Jewish communities.
In 1492 the Sephardi Jews, chased from Spain by The Catholic Kings Frederic and Isabel arrive in Greece and with their presence, their culture, their technical skills and their activities they enrich all the places where they settle. The presence of the Sephardi Jews will be particularly important for Thessaloniki, as more than 20.000 Jews arrive here, converting it into a city with a Jewish majority, called Ir Va’em Be’Yisrael, The Mother of Israel!
During the ‘Jewish heritage’ cultural tour, we are visiting the most important sites of Jewish culture, trying to distinguish between the various Jewish cultural groups and to spot what remains after the massive destructions of World War II to remind the presence of an active and flourishing community.
Upon arrival at Thessaloniki, we are taking a city tour, depending on flight schedule. The capital of the modern region of Macedonia, founded in 315 BCE by king Kassander, brother-in-law of Alexander the Great, was the second capital of the Byzantine Empire after Constantinople. Here an important political, military and cultural centre was formed. Still nowadays the city is adorned with beautiful churches that because of their rich mosaic decorations and frescoes are protected by the UNESCO as heritage of mankind. We are visiting the Rotunda, the Triumphal Arch and the palace of the Roman governor, Galerius, the churches of Agia Sofia and Agios Demetrios, the patron saint of the city and the Roman Forum. Time at leisure, accommodation in the hotel, dinner and overnight stay in Thessaloniki.
Beyond being an important roman, byzantine and ottoman city, Thessaloniki is one of the most important cities of Judaism: Jewish presence dates back to the foundation of the city and is still an important part of it. In 1492, approximately 20.000 Sephardim Jews arrive from Spain, converting Thessaloniki into a Jewish city, that because of its importance will be called the Balkan’s Jerusalem, or Ir Va’em Be’Yisrael, Mother of Israel. We are visiting the centre of the old Jewish quarter around the harbor, where the most important families, like the Modianos or the Allatinis had their headquarters. From Eleftherias square, important commercial centre, where the deportation started, we cross the Ladadika quarter headed for the Yehudi Hamman. After a brief stop, we are visiting the well-arranged Jewish museum of Thessaloniki, that conserves precious documents of the community’s life before the War. We are also visiting the Monastirioton Synagogue, the only one remaining of the old Synagogues. Continuing our tour by pullman, we are visiting the rich mansions of the wealthiest Jewish citizens of Thessaloniki and the Yeni Mosque, centre of cult of the Donme Jews. Afternoon at leisure, return to the hotel, dinner and overnight stay.
Leaving Thessaloniki, we are directed towards Veria and then to Ioannina, two more important cities for Greek Judaism. Veria, lying on the important commercial axis of the Roman Egnatian Way, hosted since the ancient times an active and important Jewish community, visited by Saul from Tarsus (St. Paul) in approximately 49-50 CE. In Veria there remain the beautiful, old Jewish quarter, Barbouta, with beautiful mansions and the old Synagogue recently restored and open to the visit upon request.
Ioannina on the other side, capital of the region of Epirus, hosted one of the most important Jewish communities in Greece after Thessaloniki, unfortunately completely eradicated and lost with the Nazi deportations during the War. We will visit the Ic Kale, the ottoman fortress, with all the old city built inside and the old Synagogue Kaal Kadosh, one of the most beautiful of Greece. We also visit the small, picturesque island on the Pamvotis lake. Transfer to the hotel, accommodation, dinner and overnight stay in Ioannina.
Departure after breakfast from Ioannina towards the Meteora. The rocks of the Meteora appear on the edge of the plain of Thessaly as we are approaching Kalambaka. St. Athanasius founded the first monastery above the towering rocks, to move as far as possible from the world and live as a hermit, dedicating himself to God. Today, the fine works of art and architecture found in the monasteries, are not less impressive than the stunning landscape that gives the impression of being in the middle between the earth and the sky.
After we visit two of the monasteries and stop to enjoy the landscape, we continue to Trikala. Homeland of Asclepius, ancient god of medicine, Trikala was an important commercial city in the middle of the Thessalian plain, where one of the oldest and most important Jewish communities used to live, sharing three Synagogues before the War. The biggest of them, the Romaniots’ Synagogue escaped destruction and has been restored. We will visit the Synagogue and the Jewish cemetery, conserving some tombstones as old as 450 years old, the area of ancient Trikki, with the Asklepieion, kind of ancient hospital dedicated to Asclepius, the old city with the Manavika and Varosi quarters and the tower of the city.
Breakfast and early departure from Trikala for Athens. Upon arrival at the Greek capital we start our tour through the most important places of Jewish interest: we will visit the Etz Hayyim, old Synagogue of Athens, built in 1904 and the larger Beth Shalom Sephardic synagogue. We will continue visiting the Jewish museum, the most important place of evidence of the 2500 years of Jewish history in Greece. During the visit, we will discover interesting aspects of the Greek Jewish communities’ every day and religious life and relationships with other communities through the ages.
We will also visit the Acropolis, landmark of Athens with world-famous monuments such as the Parthenon, and after the visit on the hill, we will also visit the new Acropolis Museum, with some of the masterpieces of classical art. Transfer to the hotel, accommodation, dinner and overnight stay in Athens.
Departure after breakfast from Athens towards Thessaloniki. On the way, we will stop in Larissa, where a lively Jewish community lives for over 1500 years. We will visit the new Historical Museum of the city of Larissa and the Etz Hayyim Synagogue. Departure for Thessaloniki. Arrival, accommodation in the hotel and time at leisure. Dinner and overnight.
Time at leisure in Thessaloniki until departure time in good advance for departure flight. Transfer to Thessaloniki international airport and end of services.