The Jewish people have suffered several diasporas in their lives, but it is the one decreed by the Romans in the year 135 that has had the greatest consequences. Since then, a multitude of Jews were forced to settle in distant places; many of them, like Spain, at that time were the limits of the known world. Although in some latitudes, especially in Europe, life in these districts has declined somewhat, there are other Jewish neighborhoods that are still very dynamic. In this article we show you some of the most beautiful ones.
Prague Jewish Quarter
Prague was another of the cities that hosted the most Jews in the past. In fact, many of its great personalities are of Jewish descent. Also one of the most famous legends of Jewish origin, the legend of the Golem, emerged in this Central European city.
Josefov, which is the name of the neighborhood, still houses 6 synagogues and has preserved the Hebrew atmosphere very well. Without a doubt, its most famous and visited place is the Jewish cemetery, where a multitude of tombstones are packed together. You also cannot miss a visit to the house museum of one of the most famous European Jews, Kafka, located at 5 Radnice Street.
Budapest Jewish Quarter
Budapest was for a long time one of the European capitals with the greatest presence of Jewish culture. It is no coincidence that the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, was born very close to this neighborhood.
An urban environment that, still today, shows that heritage. Above all thanks to its Synagogue, one of the most beautiful in all of Europe. In its vicinity, we also find the Temple of Heroes, a prayer building erected in memory of the hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews murdered during the Holocaust. Let us remember that it was in this country where Nazism was used with special viciousness and efficiency, murdering around 400,000 Jews in just over a year. The Tree of Life remember this sad episode.
Jewish quarter of Krakow
Poland was one of the countries that had the most Jews in its society until the Nazi invasion. Today there are only a few thousand left, but we can still visit the neighborhoods where they lived to collect the testimony of that heritage.
One of the most interesting is Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter of Krakow. We recommend a walk along Ulica Szeroka, one of the streets that will best immerse you in the atmosphere of Kazimierz. There are a large number of synagogues, up to seven, to visit. Having been a Jewish neighborhood with a long history, we can find synagogues older than many of the ones we visit today.
New York Jewish Quarter
Until now we have been in Europe, but it is time to jump across the pond, because the Jewish community also settled intensely in the New Continent. An example of this is New York, which is home to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, with one of the largest communities of Orthodox Jews outside of Israel.
This neighborhood is very large, in fact, it is also famous for being one of the hipster epicenters of the city. The area with the most Jewish atmosphere is south of the Williamsbrug Bridge, along Lee Avenue. The contrast between the two areas is notable, so in the Jewish area you will find more austerity, but also interesting elements such as the Elridge Street Synagogue and the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
Jewish Quarter of Gerona
We finish the list with one of the best preserved Jewish neighborhoods with a medieval flavor in all of Europe. It is thought to have been the space of important Jewish Kabbalists and philosophers and its antiquity is notable: the 12th century.
Its state of conservation, as we have told you, is extraordinary, so it is best to get lost in its streets. It is very interesting to enter Carrer de la Força, the rise of the Virgen de la Pera, the Pabordia and the Placeta del Institut Vell.
Amsterdam Jewish Quarter
Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter was especially thriving, especially because it received many of the Jews fleeing forced conversions in Spain and Portugal. In fact, personalities as important as the philosopher Spinoza were of Iberian descent (Spinoza is nothing other than the Dutch adaptation of Espinosa).
That is why it should not surprise us that one of its most interesting monuments, the Portuguese Synagogue, is called that. This process began in the 15th century and was so powerful that it turned the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam into one of the most dynamic in Europe. Up to 60,000 Jews lived there until the Nazi occupation, which was, as you can imagine, a before and after.