Jewish Heritage Expeditions


Join the upcoming tour, Aug. 27 - Sept. 5, 2018!

Habsburg Empire

Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava, Brno

The House of Habsburg is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and Spanish Empire and several other countries. The Habsburgs expanded their influence through arranged marriages and by gaining political privileges. They were also able to gain high positions in the church hierarchy for their members. Territorially, they often profited from the demise of other noble families.

The history of the Jews in the Habsburg lands dates back to the late medieval period long before the Habsburg Empire. The Catholic nature of the Holy Roman Empire as well as the Habsburg Empire resulted in their expulsion from certain areas as well as legal restrictions on dress, profession, and movement. However, by the 12th century Jewish culture and torah study was flourishing in this region. Famous Jewish scholars like the Maharal and Abraham ben Azriel in Prague, Yitshak ben Moshe and Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller, (Tosfos Yom Tov) in Vienna and many other famous Jewish scholars illustrate the great influence of the Habsburg Jewry in the field of Jewish scholarship and philosophy. During the following centuries Prague and Vienna became two of the important centers of Jewish printing, while also in Budapest Jewish intellectual life flourished.

Many of the legal restrictions on Jews were removed in the 1780's and the rest were removed in the mid nineteenth century. As a result of their emancipation, large groups of Jews in the Habsburg lands adopted the dominant German culture and language and developed a strong loyalty to the emperor who had liberated them. There developed a variety of streams within Judaism in the different regions of of Habsburg: Orthodoxy, Hassidism, the anti-Zionist Neture Karta and at the opposite end, the Reform and the Zionist movements. During the the post-emancipation period many fully integrated and assimilated Jews were found in professional fields like finance, literature and art, science and even in the military. In Prague famous Jews such as Kafka, Brod, Freud and Mahler became an important part of the Czech culture. In Budapest Herzl, the founder of political Zionism was born. David Schwartz, the original inventor of the Zeppelin airship, was born in Budapest. In Vienna, Gustav Mahler became director of the Vienna Court Opera (Hofoper) and experienced regular opposition and hostility from the anti-Semitic press, although he had converted to Catholicism from Judaism to secure the post.

As the Jews integrated more deeply in secular life, anti-Semitism grew, culminating in the destruction of almost all Jewry in this region during the Holocaust. The suppression during the years of communism prevented the remaining Jews in rebuilding  their communities. Only after the end of the cold war did a revival of Judaism start which continues until today.

This ten day tour will give you a good understanding of Jewish life and local culture during the time of the Habsburg Empire and until today. Amongst others we will visit the cities of Budapest, Prague, Vienna and Bratislava.

Habsburg Empire Itinerary

Monday - Prague

  • Arrival to Prague Airport
  • Optional custom personal program
  • Special welcome dinner

Overnight: Prague

Tuesday - Prague

  • Old Town Square
  • Old Town Hall and the Astronomical Clock
  • Walking tour of the Jewish Quarter guided by a Rabbi Judah Ben Loewe impersonator , known as the Maharal
  • Visit of the various famous synagogues
  • Study session about the Golem as cultural narrative

Overnight: Prague


  • Prague Castle
  • Wallenstein Palace Garden
  • Petřín Hill and Strahov Monastery
  • Visit the 'Lesser Town'
  • Old Jewish Cemetery
  • Local beer tasting
  • Study session about the Habsburg Jews taking its first steps toward 'modernity'

Overnight: Prague

Thursday - Brno

  • Walking tour of the center
  • Visit to the Brno Synagogue
  • Meeting with the local Jewish community
  • Visit to ‘Villa Tugendhaft’
  • Visit to the Jewish Cemetery
  • Tour of the Austerlitz Battlefield
  • Study session about the Jews in the early Industrial Revolution

Overnight: Vienna

Friday - Vienna

  • Orientation tour of the city
  • Visit to the Jewish Museum
  • Holocaust Memorial
  • Vienna Temple
  • Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens.
  • Kabbalat Shabbat service
  • Shabbat dinner
  • Study session: the influence of the revolution of 1848 on the emancipation of the Jewish communities.

Overnight: Vienna

Shabbat - Vienna

  • Shabbat service at the Vienna Synagogue
  • Meet the local Jewish community
  • Walking tour of Vienna
  • Study session about the 18th century changing Jewish identity
  • Optional visit to museums

The program on Shabbat is appropriate for participants with any level of Shabbat observance. Please contact us with any questions.

Overnight: Vienna

Sunday - Bratislava, Esztergom

  • Walking tour of the Bratislava city center
  • Visit to the primatial Palace
  • Visit to the Synagogue and Jewish Museum of Bratislava
  • Explanation about Slovakian synagogue architecture by a local expert
  • The Chatam Sofer Memorial, the burial shrine of the renowned 19th century Rabbi Moshe Schreiber
  • Visit to the city of Esztergom, the oldest Jewish community in Hungary.
  • Private boat tour from Esztergom to Budapest

Overnight: Budapest

Monday - Budapest

  • Walking tour of the 'Jewish Triangle'
  • Visit to a various synagogues
  • Studying synagoge architecture
  • Budapest Ghetto
  • Raoul Wallenberg memorial
  • Famous Hungarian liquor tasting

Overnight: Budapest

Tuesday - Budapest

  • Bus tour through Budapest
  • Walking tour of the Castle District
  • Study session about contemporary Jewish life and revival in Europe
  • Relax at the Szechenyi Thermal Baths
  • Farewell dinner with live Klezmer music

Overnight: Budapest


  • Optional custom personal program
  • Departure

The above itinerary is an sample program. If you are interested in a custom made Jewish heritage tour to the Habsburg Empire for your community, family or other group we can design a special itinerary for you. Contact us for more information.

Price includes:

  • Nine nights Deluxe room at the four/ five-star hotel. Free WiFi.
  • Entrance fees for all activities listed in the itinerary (including most optional activities)
  • Comfortable air-conditioned touring coach
  • Kosher full board. Lunch consist of sandwiches on some of the travel days or full sit down lunch meals. 
  • Professional, experienced English-speaking guide and expert local guides
  • Pre-trip study program

Please send me the brochure with the full itinerary of the 'Habsburg Empire' tour to Vienna, Prague, Budapest and Bratislava