While its spectacularly preserved defensive walls from the Middle Ages and its beautiful cathedral may be the highlights of Dubrovnik, from a historical perspective the city’s Synagogue should not be missed.
Located across from the Church of St. Blaise and down a narrow passage called “Ulica Zudioska”, or Jewish Street, (located near spot #214 of our Discovery Walk in Dubrovnik) you’ll find a 13th century Gothic house that still houses what many believe to be the second oldest Synagogue in all of Europe, having been established in 1408.
This is also believed to be the oldest functioning Sephardic synagogue in the world, making it one of the most treasured sites for the Sephardic culture. In 1546 a Jewish ghetto was established around this narrow street near the Sponza Palace allowing Jews to live within the city walls of Dubrovnik.
On the first floor of the house is a small museum with many artifacts including Torah scrolls that date back to the 13th or 14th century. Many believe that these ancient scrolls were brought to Dubrovnik by the Sephardic Jews that were expelled from Spain in 1492.
On the second floor is the synagogue itself. Although the synagogue is very small it was still large enough to accommodate the small Jewish population of the city that never exceeded around 250 people. A chest on gold colored pillars is known as the Holy Ark of the Law because the Torah scrolls believed to have been brought from Spain in 1492 are kept here.
If you’re interested in the history not only of Dubrovnik but of the Jewish faith throughout Europe you should be sure to make this small but important Synagogue a part of your visit.