Jewish Treasures of Romania: The Grand Tour

13 days – 12 nights

Highlights of the tour

  • Meetings with the Jewish local communities
  • Bucharest Jewish Heritage and meeting with the Jewish Federation
  • Brasov synagogue
  • Piatra Neamt synagogue
  • Piatra Neamt cemetery
  • Roman synagogue
  • Tirgu-Frumos cemetery
  • Tirgu-Frumos mass grave
  • Podu Iloaiei cemetery
  • Iasi synagogue
  • Iasi Jewish Quarter
  • Iasi cemetery
  • Botosani synagogue
  • Suceava synagogue
  • Sighetul Marmatiei synagogue
  • Ellie Wiesel Memorial House
  • The Soap monument in the Sighet Cemetery
  • The Holocaust Museum in Simleul Silvaniei
  • Oradea synagogues
  • The Holocaust Memorial in Oradea
  • The Arad Synagogue
  • The Timisoara synagogues

Day 1: BUCHAREST

Arrival at Henri Coanda International Airport in Bucharest,
Meeting the guide at the airport.
Transfer to the Hotel Radisson SAS *****.
Arrival at the hotel, check-in.

In the evening – short walking tour in the Revolution Square, located 3 minutes from our hotel, with a short presentation of our revolution from 1989. Dinner with folklore show at Beer Cart.

DAY 2: BUCHAREST

Visit the Choral Temple & the Holocaust Memorial.

The Choral Temple

The Choral Temple

The Choral Temple is, for sure, the most important of Bucharest’s synagogues. It dates back from 1856. The Temple as it appears today is the result of an interior and exterior reconstruction in 1932 – 1933. The Choral Temple is one of the precious few Romanian synagogues whose architects are known.

The Great Synagogue & The Holocaust Museum, founded in 1850 by a congregation of Polish Jews; the synagogue was first repaired in 1865 and adapted to electric lighting in 1915.

In 1980 it was turned into the Romanian Jewish history Museum.

The Great Synagogue

The Great Synagogue

Visit the History Jewish Museum

Visit the Jewish Theatre in Romania

The Jewish Theatre in Romania has a tradition dating back 130 years. Documents show that it was created in 1876, as the first professional Jewish theatre in the world, in a public park in the Romanian town of Iasi, Romania. A few months later, it moved to Bucharest.

The Jewish Theatre

The Jewish Theatre

Lunch in the ritual restaurant of the Jewish Community.

Visit in the afternoon The Yesua Tova Synagogue, located downtown and built in 1827, totally renovated.

The Yesua Tova Synagogue

The Yesua Tova Synagogue

Visit the Jewish Cemetery “Filantropia”.

Filantropia Cemetery

Filantropia Cemetery

Visit the Romanian Atheneum

In 1886 the French architect Albert Galeron proposed a project together with the greatest Romanian architects of his times. In 1888, the new building was inaugurated even though work continued until 1897 due to the lack of sufficient funds.

Ateneul Roman

Ateneul Roman

Accomodation in Radisson SAS ***** Bucharest

DAY 3: BUCHAREST – SINAIA – AZUGA – BRAN – BRASOV

Departure to Sinaia. We go through a chain of villages in the plain around Bucharest; then the landscape changes as we reach the Prahova Valley, one of the most picturesque places of this region, with mountain resorts spread across it.

Visit the Royal Castle Peles

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Departure to Azuga

After seeing these precious and unique places we shall stop in Azuga, where we invite you to taste sparkling wine and wines and indulge in a welcome lunch at a special place – the Halewood Wine Cellars.

Foaming wine has been produced in Azuga since 1892, when a German merchant set up the Rhein & Cie company. The merchant had chosen this particular place due to the climacteric conditions as well as to the fact that it was close to the vineyards and that the wine could be easily transported to any other part of the country.
The foaming wines ferment by a special process, sitting on racks deep inside the old Rhein wine cellers which still exist today as they did when the company was set up.

Azuga

Azuga

Departure to Brasov

Accomodation in the exquisite guest house “The Rose’s House” ****

Short walking tour in the Council Square

DAY 4: BRASOV – SIGHISOARA

Visit the Brasov Synagogue, built in 1899.

Brasov Synagogue

Brasov Synagogue

Visit the Jewish Community office and the ritual restaurant.

Visit medieval Brasov which, according to documents dates from 1234. The old center contains Piata Sfatului, the imposing Black Church, The Council House, Merchants’ House, Brasov’s Fortres, Schei Gate, Ecaterina Gate of 1540, and Rope Street, the most narrow street in Europe – these are only a few of the attractions of this town which is always full of life.

The Brasov Council House

The Brasov Council House

Departure to Sighisoara.

Arrival in Sighisoara and check in in Fronius Residence *****, inside the Citadel.
Walking tour inside the Citadel, by night.

DAY 5: SIGHISOARA – SOVATA – GHEORGHIENI – THE RED LAKE – THE BICAZ GORGES -
PIATRA – NEAMT

Breakfast at the Guesthouse Fronius Residence ***** in Sighisoara.

Tour of the Sighisoara Citadel.

Sighisoara

Sighisoara

Visit the Sighisoara synagogue.

Sighisoara: The town is on the UNESCO world Heritage List.

Sighisoara is the most beautiful and well kept fortified town in Transylvania and dates from the 13th century when it was known as the City of Schassburg. It is the only medieval citadel whose old buildings are still in a functional state and well kept. The town dates from around 1190.

We shall continue our journey after leaving Sighisoara, and we shall stop in our way to Szekely Land to admire the fantastic panorama of the Red Lake, of Bicaz Gorges and Bicaz Lake.

Szekely Land

Szekely Land

The Szekely Land, the land of the Hungarian minority, called Szekely, is a place with beautiful mountains and valleys, with beautiful landscapes.

Arrival in Piatra Neamt, overnight in Grand Hotel Ceahlau ***.

Day 6: PIATRA NEAMT – ROMAN – TIRGU – FRUMOS – PODU ILOAIEI – IASI

Meeting with the President of the Neamt Jewish Community.

Piatra Neamt – a big jewish community, with approximately 200 jewish people. The Great Temple, known as Leipziger Bet ha-Midrash Temple, is a big, newer, synagogue, dating from 1839.

Piatra Neamt Synagogue

Piatra Neamt Synagogue

The Piatra Neamt Cathedral synagogue, a historic monument, is the oldest wooden synagogue still standing in Romania. It’s design is strongly influenced by local architectural tradition, sharing an evident family resemblance to the timber synagogues of Poland and Bohemia.

The present wooden building was founded in 1766. Some specialists believe that the old building made from stone was founded in the 15th century. The golden altar is 250 years old, with the original ritual objects in fine condition.

Visit the Jewish Cemetery, split into 2 parts, the old part with tombs dating, some of them from 17 century, and the new part.

Departure to Iasi.

Visit the Tailor’s Synagogue in Roman.

Tailor's Synagogue, Roman

Tailor's Synagogue, Roman

The Tailor’s Synagogue is a medium type edifice erected in 1898. The Jewish Community in Roman is at least four centuries old, as is demonstrated by the tombstones and documents. There were 16 synagogues in Roman at 1887 and a total of 15 synagogues and prayer houses in the 1930’s.

Departure to Iasi, via Tirgu – Frumos – Podu Iloaiei.

Stop at Tirgu-Frumos Cemetery.

Tirgu-Frumos and the death trains:

“The train finally departed from Iasi in the early morning hours of June 30.
For the next 17 hours the it traveled a circuitous route to Tirgu Frumos, Pascani, Lespezi, back to Pascani, then on to Roman, and finally, back to Tirgu Frumos, where it halted temporarily.

By this time hundreds had died … more than 650 bodies were piled onto trucks and carts and taken to the local Jewish cemetery, where large trenches were dug to serve as mass graves.

The second death train also departed Iasi early on June 30. This transport carried 1,902 Jews who were packed into 18 railcars, along with 80 corpses of those who had been killed earlier. The train took eight hours to reach its final destination at Podul Iloaei, only 20 km from Iasi. As with the first train, hundreds died along the way. Only 708 of the captives reached Podul Iloaei”

The Jewish Cemetery in Tirgu-Frumos.

The cemetery at Tirgu Frumos

The Jewish Cemetery was initially located in the south area of the city, but after the construction of Iasi-Pascani railway (started on 1 June 1870), the place was expropriated and the cemetery was moved in the west side, where it still lies. In the 1930s, the Hassidic Rabbi from Pascani descended from the train in Tirgu-Frumos and continued his way in car, in order not to cross over the cemetery.

The cemetery now belongs to the Jewish Community. There are about 5,000 tombstones. The oldest one is from 1818 and the last funerals we are aware of took place on 18 July 1977. The tombs are made of different materials, such as marble, granite, freestone, brownstone. Some of them have careful polishes, graphic elements, portraits and/or metal fences around. The inscriptions are made in Hebrew, Yiddish and Romanian.

About three quarters of the tombstones are dislocated, fallen or broken. The cemetery has never been vandalized. There is no permanent caretaker.

In the Jewish cemetery of Targu Frumos are buried about 20 local personalities.
The first known mentions of the Jews in Targu Frumos are from the middle of the XVIIIth century.

The Mass Grave in Tirgu-Frumos

In the cemetery there is a huge common grave, made after the pogrom of Iasi and the unloading of bodies from the first “death train”, the one going to Calarasi. Near the common grave there is a commemorative monument, built in the communist period, with an inscription in Hebrew and Romanian:

“To the 640 Jews buried here, victims of the fascist barbarism, killed in the ‘death train’ on 29-30 June and 1 July 1941. Let us not forget the Fascism’s crimes!”

There is no consensus between the historians concerning the numbers of victims. The historian Radu Ioanid concluded that they were 650, while historian Jean Ancel thinks that the number of Jews in the first “death train” was much bigger than initially thought and, consequently, the number of victims buried at Tirgu-Frumos is greater than the one usually acknowledged.

Tirgu Frumos Mass Grave

Tirgu Frumos Mass Grave

Visit to the Podu Iloaiei Cemetery.

The Jewish community in the village of Podu Iloaiei appeared in the second half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th.

Podu Iloaiei Cemetery

Podu Iloaiei Cemetery

Only the Jewish cemetery remaines, with tombstones dating from 1829 and 1830.

Arrival in Iasi, overnight in the Grand Hotel Traian ****

Day 7: IASI – TIRGU – FRUMOS – COTNARI – HARLAU – BOTOSANI – SUCEAVA – GURA – HUMORULUI

Visit Iasi, the largest and most sophisticated Jewish community in Romania, headquarters of Hacham Bashim in the 17th century, one of the great European Centers of Jewish learning during the 19th century and the birth place of Yiddish Theater.

Visit the Jewish Community and meet its president.

Iasi Synagogue

Iasi Synagogue

Visit the Synagogue. The Great Synagogue is the oldest Jewish Temple in Romania, built in 1671. It also serves as a museum. If in exterior it is very simple, without any decorations, the interior is as sophisticated as possible, decorated and gifted with valuable objects: chandeliers, candlesticks.

This visit is followed by a visit to the Jewish Cemetery, the Holocaust Museum and the holy tomb of the Rabbi of Stefanesti, famous for his cures, miracles and teachings.

The Iasi Jewish Cemetery, in the back of the Pacurari, has more than 140,000 tombs, with a monument symbolizing a train in memorial to the transports.

Iasi Palace of Culture

Iasi Palace of Culture

The Palace of Culture, acknowledged as effigy of the city of Iasi, was built in the neogothic style and as such was one of the last expressions of Romanticism in the official architecture, built between 1906 – 1925.

Visit the Great Synagogue in Botosani, (Oiche Shul), built in 1834.

Meeting with the Botosani Jewish Community President.

A Jewish community of historical importance, Botosani is now home to 80 Jews and an exceptional synagogue that dates back to 1834.

Under Iron Guard reign (September 1940-January 1941), the 10,900 Jews of Botosani suffered from economic repression and various other restrictions. Many were kidnapped by the Iron Guard, beaten up, and tortured.

In December 1940, Botosani’s Jewish men between the ages of 15 and 70 were forced into hard labour. Eight thousand Jews were put on forced labour, half of them outside the city. Romanian authorities deported 42 Jews to Transnistria “on suspicion of communism”, most of whom were murdered shortly afterward. The total number of Botosani Jews deported to Transnistria rose to 148, some being accused of “anti-government agitation or propagating emigration”.

After the war, when the evacuees from the villages in the area and those who returned from Transnistria settled in the city, Botosani’s total Jewish population numbered 19,550 (1947). A few years later most of the population settled in Israel, leaving 500 families and four synagogues in 1969.

Botosani – Suceava

Botosani Synagogue

Botosani Synagogue

Suceava Synagogue – The Gah Synagogue was founded by the Gemilut Hasidim mutual aid society in 1870 when there were 8,000 jewish residents in Suceava. Re-modeleld in 1910, restored in 1929, 1975 and 1983. Suceava was a major center of Moldavian Jewry.

Suceava Synagogue

Suceava Synagogue

Suceava – Gura – Humorului

Arrival in Gura Humorului, overnight in the Hotel best Western Bucovina Club de Munte ****.

DAY 8: GURA – HUMORULUI – CIOCANESTI TRADITIONALL VILLAGE – SIGHETUL MARMATIEI

Visit the beautiful, traditional village of Ciocanesti

Situated in the Bucovina region, Ciocanesti is a paradise destination, free of artificiality where all food is fresh and organic.

…a village in the mountains covered by ancient forests, in a village with houses covered by decorations, each one more beautiful than the other and covered with pine tree wood…

A home in Ciocanesti

A home in Ciocanesti

Every house in Ciocanesti is decorated on the outside with flowers and geometric figures. There is an unwritten rule that no two houses bear the same design. The individual characteristics of the houses are truly unique in the world.

Departure to Maramures.

Passing the Rodnei mountains, the Prislop Pass.

Maramures, a cradle of culture and civilization which carved its history in wood, is the place where tradition, clothes and folk art are preserved like nowhere else in Romania. Maramures is a huge outdoor museum and the everyday life of the Maramures villages remains timeless in its simplicity.

Traditional Maramures Costume

Traditional Maramures Costume

Northern Romania, in particular the regions of Maramures and the Bukovina, was once home to a large Jewish community unlike any other. Hasidic Jews first settled in the poorer mountain areas of the Habsburg Empire during the 17th and 18th centuries, in the aftermath of the Chmielnicki massacres and the resultant messianic confusion.

Departure to Sighet.

Accommodation in Sighet, The GuestHouse, Iurca’s House ****.

DAY 9: SIGHETUL MARMATIEI – BAIA MARE – ZALAU – SILMEUL SILVANIEI – ORADEA

Breakfast at the Casa Iurca’s Guesthouse.

Visit the Sighet highlights:

Sighet Synagogue Vizhnitzer Klaus and a meeting with the President of the local Jewish Community.

Sighet Synagogue

Sighet Synagogue

The Cemetery with the Monument of the Soap.

The Soap Monument

The Soap Monument

Sighetul Marmatiei with the Ellie Wiesel House.

“I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone-terribly alone in a world without God and without man.”

Elie Wiesel, “Night” (1958)

Eliezer Wiesel (commonly known as Elie) is a world-renowned Romanian Jewish, philosopher, humanitarian, political activist, and Holocaust survivor.

Elie Wiesel's House

Elie Wiesel's House

We shall visit the Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance from Sighet. A place for prayer and meditation, which combines the antique style with a modern construction, this was built in one of the prison courtyards in 1977.

Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance from Sighet

Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance from Sighet

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The names of almost 8000 people that died in the prisons, concentration camps and deportation camps from Romania were engraved in smoked Andesite on the wall of a ramp that descends in the underground.

The first rooms of the museum as well as the “Place for prayers and meditation” were inaugurated in June 1997, when the Memorial was declared “a place of national interest”.

By these honors the most important project dedicated by the civil society to the reconstruction and analysis of the Communist past is acknowledged – a unique project in the Eastern-European countries, according to its visitors.

Departure to Simleul Silvaniei.

Visit the Holocaust Museum from North Transylvania, located in Simleul Silvaniei.

Simleu Synagogue

Simleu Synagogue

Departure to Oradea.

Accomodation in the Hotel The Black Eagle ****

DAY 10: ORADEA- ARAD- TIMISOARA

Visit the Oradea Synagogues and a meeting with the President of Oradea Jewish Community.

Oradea Synagogue

Oradea Synagogue

A very strong Jewish community and Jewish life, before tyhe First World War the number of the Oradea Jewish Population was approximately 24%

The Zion Neological Synagogue

oradea-sinagogue-2

In 1878 the Jewish community built up on the riverside of Crisul, a monumental synagogue with 1000 seats dominated by a huge cupola.

The orthodox Synagogue, built in 1890.

The Holocaust Monument, located near the Orthodox Synagogue.

To remind us ! never to repeat that again !

Oradea Jewish Cemetery

Oradea Jewish Cemetery

In the summer of 1941 the office for the control of foreigners ordered the round up of Jews with foreign nationality.

Jewish people that had been established in Oradea for a long time ware rounded up with their family. Many of them were arrested and transported in inhumane conditions to Poland, handed over to German authorities and executing them in Kamenec Podolsk. Men between the ages of 18 and 45 were taken into working detachments.

In time of the German occupy of Hungary the situation of the Jews got worse. They were obliged to wear the yellow star, their fortunes were confiscated and two ghettoes were founded. They were transported from the beginning of 25th May, 1944 to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

On the liberation of the city of Oradea there were still 6500 Jewish inhabitants, a number what includes the Jewish people from the surrounding settlements and 1000 refugees from Bucovina.

Now the Jewish community that some decades ago represented a third of the population (The largest Jewish community of Transylvania) does not exceed 600 souls.

In place of those who disappeared remains only a black marble monument placed close to the orthodox synagogue…

Visit the beautiful synagogue in Arad and meet the President of the Jewish community.

Arad Synagogue

Arad Synagogue

Departure to Timisoara.

Accommodation in the Hotel Continental ****.

DAY 11: TIMISOARA

Timisoara, a city bordering the Balkan states in the Banat region of Transylvania, was first settled by Turkish Sephardi Jews.

In later centuries, German culture became predominant. In 1762, both Sephardi and Ashkenazi synagogues were built.

In 1865 the imposing Citadel Synagogue was built by the Ashkenazi Jews, who soon after declared themselves as Neologs.

An Orthodox community was established and in 1906 they built the Moorish style Josefin Synagogue.

Approximately 500 Jews remain of this still active Jewish community, most of whom are middle-aged or elderly.

Timisoara Synagogue

Timisoara Synagogue

Visit The Timisoara Fabric synagogue, also called the New Synagogue or the Maor Synagogue ( dates from 1889 ). The Synagogue is in need of restoration.

timisoara-syn-detail

Visit the Synagogue at Iosefin. The Orthodox Temple is the newest synagogue from the city, dating from 1910. Now, it is the only synagogue from Timisoara still in use.

The Synagogue from the Citadel ( built 1863 – 1865) following the plans of the Austrian architecte Ignatz Schuhmann, in Maor style, is a huge one, with a capacity 3.000 persons.

Visit the Jewish Cemetery Timisoara.

Jewish Cemetery, Timisoara

Jewish Cemetery, Timisoara

Accommodation in Timisoara, Hotel Continental ****.

DAY 12: TIMISOARA – BUCHAREST ( or departure to Hungary )

Arrival Bucharest, accommodation Hotel Amzei ****.

Or, transfer to the Hungarian border.

Day 13: Departure. Transfer to the airport

End of the tour

PRICE: AVAILABLE ON REQUEST.

The price includes:
Transfer from / to the airport

12 nights accomodation in double room occupancy, breakfast included, in four star and five star hotels and rural guesthouses, according to the schedule.

All vehicle expenses included (transport, driver, fuel)

Guide-driver’s accomodation and meals included
Guide and translation services included
All entrance fees included, where applicable
A testing sparkling wine and lunch in the Halewood Azuga Cellars
A welcome dinner in Bucharest, folklore show
A lunch in the canteen of the Jewish Community Bucharest

car

Price does not include:
Lunch and dinner, except where mentioned
Fees for video camera in all museums and locations
Flight tickets
Other services
* Upon request, this tour may be considered for more than two persons
* Individual tour may be chosen upon request

Accommodation
Bucharest – Radissoon SAS ***** & Hotel Amzei ****
Brasov – Rose’s House ****
Sighisoara – Fronius Residence *****
Piatra – Neamt – Grand Hotel Ceahlau ***
Iasi – Grand Hotel Traian ****
Gura Humorului – Best Western Bucovina Club de Munte ****
Sighetul Marmatiei – The Iurca’s House – ****
Oradea – The Black Eagle ****
Timisoara – Hotel Continental ****