The first Jew mentioned in Dubrovnik documents in 1326 was a doctor although, around the same time, many Jews came to the area as coral hunters. 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 led to a decision of the Republic government from 1546, establishing the Jewish ghetto in Žudioska 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.
Our tour takes you through the Old Town, down the main street Stradun, to Žudioska (Jewish) Street where the Jewish community once lived. There, we will visit the synagogue and its remarkably well-preserved and historically significant interior, dating back to 1652. In the complex, the small but remarkable Jewish museum holds 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.