Over the centuries of Moscow’s history, the Jewish community flourished and faltered depending on the Czars or political party in power.
In the 19th century, elite military schools led by “Cantonists” (Russian soldiers) saw many Jewish students in them. At other times (e.g. 1891) 30,000 Jewish citizens were expelled from Moscow, many of whom immigrated to the United States. Years later, the community recuperated and numbered roughly 400,000 people before the 2nd world war. Although the fate of the Jews in Moscow took a turn to the worse, many Russian Jews (roughly 500,000), remembered faithfully in Moscow today, fought in the Red Army against the Nazis courageously.
Post-war Jewish life was not always easy, and severely constricted at times, when being Jewish, learning and teaching Hebrew and visiting synagogue was banned by USSR government regulations. The Jewish people however struggled on and continued stoically for a more positive era to begin. Along with the changes to the country that came with the collapse of the USSR, Russia’s Jewish community benefited enormously. Today, Russian-Jewish culture is flourishing once again, and Moscow has become one of the most tolerant places in all of Europe for Jews.
Moscow is home to the largest Jewish community in Russia. It numbers around 250 thousand people, making this city a thriving focal point of Jewish life in the 21st century. Our tours offer you the opportunity to explore the vibrant life of Moscow’s Jewish community, visit one or all of the 6 local synagogues, kosher restaurants, schools, cultural centers and Jewish museums which are literally scattered around the city.
Jewish and General Central Moscow
5 hour driving tour
After being picked up from the port, you will be transported to Moscow’s famous Red Square, home to many of the city’s most famed sites including Lenin's Mausoleum, Alexander Garden, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the architectural splendour of St Basil's Cathedral and the grand Kremlin itself. Admire the structures around you, while learning about the square's significance throughout Russian history. You will also explore the beautiful building of the GUM department store.
The tour continues with the visit of Bolshoi Theatre - a historic building that is home for one of the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world. Not far from here you will have a chance to see the Moscow Choral Synagogue, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. This is the only synagogue to have continued to operate throughout the Soviet period. The Choral Synagogue is located close to the former Jewish settlement of Zaryadye and the Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue - a pre-revolutionary synagogue founded by millionaire Lazar Solomonovich Polyakov for a private congregation.
From here travel on to Bolotnaya Square with its beautiful Luzhkov Bridge, full with love locks that symbolize the eternal union of loving hearts. Head on to see the Novodevichiy (New Maiden) Convent and Cemetery, which contains the graves of Yeltsin, Khrushev, Chechkov, as well as many other famous men and women of Russian history. The tour continues with a visit to the beautiful, gold-topped Cathedral of Christ the Saviour; the current structure was rebuilt in 1980’s, as the original was demolished under Stalin in 1931.
Your next stop is Victory Park and the Triumphal Arch, one of the last examples of Soviet triumphal architecture. The park is located around the Poklonnaya Gora - the hill where Napoleon waited in vain to receive the keys to the city, as his troops surrounded Moscow in 1812. Continue onwards to the Vorobyevi Hills, which offer an incredible view of the city and see the Moscow State University from the outside. This is one of Russia’s leading universities and a prime example of Stalin-Era architecture. You will then travel on to Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow´s Olympic stadium.
Next, visit Tverskaya St (formerly known as Gorky Street) which was the heart of Russian high society in the 18th and 19th centuries and have a chance to explore the bustling Pushkinskaya Square, named after the poet Alexander Pushkin. At the end of the tour, you will be transported back to the port.
Jewish and Holocaust Museum Extension
2 hour driving tour (extension to the above tour)
You may choose to extend the tour to visit museums dedicated to the history of Jewish community in Moscow: the Jewish Museum, thought to be the largest in the world, and the Holocaust Museum.
You will also discover the Memorial Synagogue and Holocaust Center. This synagogue was built in 1998 to commemorate the Jews who died in WWII. In addition to the Holocaust in Russia, and other Soviet Territories, the museum also contains exhibitions on Jewish life in Russia prior to the Revolution. At the end of the tour, you will be transported back to the port.
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