Dubrovnik’s Jewish History and Culture

Discover Dubrovnik’s Jewish history, a fascinating story spanning centuries! At Rewind Dubrovnik, we designed our Jewish History Tour of Dubrovnik to share and celebrate this very story.  

The following blog will explore some of Dubrovnik’s key Jewish places of interest and touch upon the history of Jewish people in the region. 

While you are with us, we encourage you to check out our selection of Day Tours Departing from Dubrovnik.

Žudioska ulica
Jewish Street in Dubrovnik, on Which the Old Synagogue is Located

The Dubrovnik Synagogue

Step into the Dubrovnik Synagogue, nestled in the heart of the city. This architectural marvel, blending a 13th-century Gothic house with a 16th-century Sephardic synagogue, stands as the oldest Sefardic synagogue still in use today in the world and the second oldest synagogue in Europe. 

Inside, you’re greeted by lavish decorations that tell a story of devotion and artistry. Our guides bring to life the synagogue’s history, from its founding to its role as a sanctuary for the Jewish community. 

Standing in this sacred space makes you feel a profound connection to centuries of worship and perseverance, making it a truly unforgettable Dubrovnik historical site.

The Jewish Ghetto of Dubrovnik

Our journey continues along the cobblestone paths of the Jewish Ghetto, established in 1546 on what is now Žudioska ulica (Jewish Street). Once a vibrant hub of Jewish life, this enclave is a window into the city’s past. The guides on our Dubrovnik Jewish History Tour recount tales of daily life, community bonds, and enduring traditions as we wander through its narrow lanes. 

The Ghetto retains its unique cultural footprint despite the tides of history. Exploring this area is not only a walk through a historic district; it’s an immersive experience in the living legacy of Dubrovnik’s Jewish community.

Synagogue of Dubrovnik interior
Interior of the Old Synagogue

From Roman Times to Modern Days

Exploring the Jewish history of Dubrovnik illuminates the journey of Jewish communities who found refuge here, fleeing the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. You can explore how these resilient souls established vibrant communities, enriching the Balkan Peninsula with their culture and traditions. 

This is a narrative that illustrates the Jewish community’s adaptability and perseverance through various epochs, including the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian eras. It’s a story of survival and flourishing against the odds, adding depth to our understanding of the city’s rich history.

Fabric of Community: Trade and Culture

Jews in Dubrovnik possessed significant roles in trade, industry, medicine, and law, reflecting their integral part in the city’s development. However, tragedy struck during WW2. During the war, Croatia, including Dubrovnik, was occupied by fascist forces. Initially home to 250 Jews, many from Dubrovnik were relocated to the Rab concentration camp. 

In October 1944, Tito’s Partisans liberated Dubrovnik, helping some Jews reach freed areas while others were sent to camps by the Germans. Post-war, most surviving Jews from Dubrovnik settled in Israel, leaving around 30 Jews in the city, with only 17 officially registered in 2001.

During the Croatian War of Independence, Dubrovnik suffered significant damage, including to its synagogue. Important Jewish artifacts, like a 13th-century Torah, were temporarily relocated for safety, but they were returned to Dubrovnik in 1998. Today, Dubrovnik’s small Jewish community lacks a resident rabbi; services are led by visiting rabbis on holy days.

Exploring the Old Synagogue and Ghetto today allows you to delve into how the Jewish community preserved its heritage and identity, contributing uniquely to the multicultural mosaic of Dubrovnik.

Explore Dubrovnik History with Rewind…

We’ve explored the ancient Dubrovnik Synagogue, strolled through the historic Jewish Ghetto, and traced the community’s saga from Roman times to the present. Each step of the way, we celebrated the contributions of the Jewish community in shaping Dubrovnik’s identity.

The story of Dubrovnik’s Jews illuminates the past and brings into focus the enduring spirit of people who have overcome immense challenges while enriching their surroundings immeasurably. It’s a testament to the power of preservation and the importance of remembering our shared history. 

As we conclude, we hope this brief guide inspires you to experience this unique and enlightening tour for yourself, to explore, learn, and appreciate the rich Jewish heritage of Dubrovnik.

Consider booking your place on our Jewish Tour of Historic Dubrovnik. If you are looking for more things to do during your stay in the city, why not join us on a luxury Boat Trip from Dubrovnik? If you have any questions, please get in touch

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