Our river cruise excursions in Cologne offer a perfect introduction to Jewish life and history along the Rhine Valley. Experience Cologne, home of the oldest Jewish community in Europe north of the Alps, and gain insight into the small towns and villages you will explore as you continue your cruise along the river known in German as "Vater Rhein", or "Father Rhine".
Get an insider’s perspective on Cologne, Germany, with our Jewish Cologne tour. Our local guides offer a first-hand experience of the proud Jewish community of Cologne, the oldest community in Europe north of the Alps. Visit important historic sites, and witness contemporary Jewish life. Our Jewish Cologne tour will also give you unique insight into highlights of Cologne tourism like the Cologne Cathedral.
It is said that the Jewish community moved to the city as early as the year 70 CE, traveling up the Rhine with the Romans. The struggle of the Jews of Cologne to free themselves from ancient discriminatory laws was exemplary. After an expulsion in 1424, Jews returned under Napoleon’s rule and the community served as a model of Jewish emancipation in Germany. Cologne became the most populous and economically powerful city in the Rhineland, while the Jewish community contributed to and enjoyed that prosperity. Today, the Jewish community of Cologne has more than 6,000 members and a well-developed infrastructure, including both liberal and orthodox services, a Jewish kindergarten and school, and a youth club.
Join us on a Cologne Jewish heritage tour, and discover the signs of Jewish history that are present throughout the city. In Cologne’s Gothic City Hall, three of the ‘Nine Worthies’ or ‘Nine Good Heroes’ are representative of Jewish history in the carved images of Judas Maccabeus, King David, and the prophet Joshua. Offenbach Square is named after the 19th century influential composer of popular music, son of a cantor, Jacques Offenbach. A memorial plaque commemorates forerunners of Theodor Herzl, such as Max Isidor Bodenheimer and David Wolffsohn, who worked in Cologne in the early 20th century, turning the city into one of the most important centers of the Zionist movement. One of Cologne’s six pre-war synagogues has been re-built and is home to an active congregation. A good example of the important Holocaust memory work taking place in Germany today is the ‘Stumbling Blocks’ (Stolpersteine) project initiated by Cologne artist Gunter Demnig.