Despite the small size of Dubrovnik's Old Town, the synagogue of Dubrovnik has global significance and was the central part of Jewish heritage in Dubrovnik throughout the history. The second oldest still active synagogue in Europe (after the one in Prague), it was established in 1408 and its present interior dates from 1652.
The first Jew mentioned in Dubrovnik documents in 1326 was a doctor. Already in the beginning of the 15th century, Jews can take residence in Dubrovnik, but following the 1492 expulsion from Spain, the Jewish immigrants quickly established themselves as merchants dealing in fabrics, silk, wool, leather, and spices. Ultimately, this lead to a decision of the Republic government from 1546, establishing the Jewish ghetto in one street in the Old Town, today called Zudioska street. In ghetto times, the alley was closed at the top and controlled by a gate at the lower end, neither of which exists today.
By 1614 the Jews of Dubrovnik were so much a part of the life of Dubrovnik that the Senate gave concessions to encourage them to live here permanently. Less than a decade later, however, the increased pressure from the Catholic Church and the changing sentiments of the local population had reduced the Jewish population to just four families. Today there are only a handful of Jews still living here and the synagogue is mostly a museum - but from time to time prayer services are still held by visiting rabbis.
We will start our special tour in front of Onofrio's fountain and continue along the main street Stradun, towards Zudioska (Jewish) Street where the Jewish community once lived. Then we will visit the synagogue and its remarkably well-preserved and historically significant interior, together with a small but remarkable Jewish museum, holding precious 13th and 14th century Torahs and many valuable documents related to the history of Jews in Dubrovnik. After the visit to the Synagogue and the Jewish museum, the tour continues with exploring the magnificent cultural heritage of Dubrovnik and tells the story of the historically significant Jewish community and the time they lived in.