Visit Budapest with us, and discover the many facets of this beautiful city on the Danube River. Let us bring you inside Jewish Budapest – its rich history and its inspiring contemporary life. Our Budapest tours offer fresh insight into must-see Budapest attractions, and go deeper into sites that bring to life the past and present of the Hungarian Jews.
The modern city of Budapest is an amalgamation of the old city names of ‘Buda’ and ‘Pest’ straddling the Danube River, each with its own separate Jewish community. A tour therefore naturally crosses the river to explore both historic Jewish quarters. One can still sense the power and splendor of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy which was home to many different ethnic and religious groups. Where once a 15th century synagogue stood is now a Jewish Museum incorporating its remains. The community split into Neolog (progressive) and Orthodox in 1869, while those who refused the split built the ‘Status-Quo’ synagogue. The birth house of Theodor Herzl is a museum and many chapters in the history of Zionism took place here. By 1935 there were more than 200,000 Jews in Budapest, making this community one of the largest in the world. Hungary was one of the Axis powers and Jews were persecuted first by the collaborative government. When Hungarian Fascists took power in 1944, the Nazis were able to carry out a devastating deportation action in which over half of Hungary’s Jews were murdered within a few months. Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and Swiss Consul Carl Lutz saved 10,000 of the Hungarian Jews marked for death by issuing them false papers. See the moving granite and steel “Weeping Willow” memorial and a bronze statue of Wallenberg to commemorate the Righteous Gentiles. During Soviet times a relatively large Jewish community continued to live here (about 60,000 members). Budapest was the only place within the Soviet satellite countries where an operational Rabbinical Seminary continued to exist!
The highlight of any tour to Budapest is a visit to the Moorish style Dohany Street Synagogue. It is perhaps the most magnificent synagogue in the world and largest in Europe, holding 3,000 people. Today’s community of approximately 90,000 is served by 23 synagogues and prayer houses, 2 colleges, 3 high schools, a Jewish hospital, Jewish newspaper, kosher restaurants, butchers and bakers.
A tour of Budapest includes World Heritage Sites such as the Buda Castle and surrounding Castle Quarter, Saint Stephen’s Basilica, the Chain Bridge, the mid 19th century Andrássy Avenue with its eclectic neo-Renaissance palaces and the Hungarian State Opera. The spectacular neo-Gothic Parliament is ornate and massive – building materials included 40kg of gold! – displaying its splendor on the banks of the Danube. A historical stroll along the Danube Promenade is a must for this fascinating, charming and very Jewish city.