Jewish Heritage Walking Tour, Budapest (Self Guided)

Over the centuries, the Jews of Budapest were many times expelled from the city and had to rebuild their homes and lives after it. Therefore, it is amazing to see how much they have re-created and many of it is still preserved even after the WWII and the communist regime. This tour covers some of the most important sites that provide an insight into the history and culture of the Jewish population in the city.
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Jewish Heritage Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Jewish Heritage Walking Tour
Guide Location: Hungary » Budapest (See other walking tours in Budapest)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
Author: kane
Orthodox Synagogue

1) Orthodox Synagogue

The Orthodox Synagogue is the physical and spiritual center of Jewish life in the 8th District. It is located at 29-31 Kazinczy utca at Dob, Budapest, nestled in a quaint little community that has a kosher eating establishment, a school, and a prayer room. Nearby there is also a mikvah, which is the only one to be found anywhere in Budapest. The structure was built in 1913.

The Hungarian Orthodox Jews, which make this house of worship their home, are a rather unique off shoot of Conservative Judaism. They maintain many of the practices of the Jewish immigrants of Germany and Moravia. There is also a strong Hassidic background in these people, which came to the area from Poland and Galatia.

Many of the people who attend synagogue here are either the survivors of WWII or their descendants. Despite deportation by the Nazis, many of the original Hungarian settlers of Kazinczy were able to come home by 1944.

The easiest way to get to the Synagogue is by subway. You will make use of the M1, M2, or M3 line to Deak ter Station. You can then take M2 to Astoria Station, and then walk to Karoly korut in the direction of Deak ter. Once there, make a right at Dob utca.
Rumbach Street Synagogue

2) Rumbach Street Synagogue

Located in Budapest's historic district of Belvaros, the heart of downtown Budapest, this synagogue has been a spiritual home of Hungarian Orthodox Jews since the late 19th century. Built to the design of Otto Wagner, the genius behind many of Vienna's amazing Art Nouveau buildings, its architectural style is clearly reminiscent of North African and Arabic buildings, with octagonal, minaret-style columns similar to those of Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock.

The decorative brickwork on the outside is quite remarkable, with carved stone and stucco work complementing the wrought iron works. The multi-colored façade, along with the oriental style arches, make the perfect backdrop to the windows that contain the Star of David, and to the center of the façade one can also see the two stone tablets of Moses.

The interior is stunning, with a soaring main nave, an exquisitely decorated dome and ceilings, stained glass windows, and decorative arabesques on all walls.

Although the building suffered extensively during World War II and has not been an active religious site for almost 60 years, it is still worth a visit, keeping in mind that its interior is still undergoing restoration, but even more so after the restoration process is completed.

Jewish culture and history is well represented in the surrounding area, so you might want to wander about and make a few other stops along the way. There is plenty to see, including the main Budapest synagogue on Dohány Street, just a few blocks away.
Tree of Life / Raoul Wallenberg Park

3) Tree of Life / Raoul Wallenberg Park (must see)

Raoul Wallenberg Park is a place of commemoration for the people who risked their lives to help keep the Jewish population of Budapest safe during the days of WWII. Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat at the time and one of the main leaders in the movement to protect the Hungarian Jews. If this group had been caught, they would have been executed.

The famous Tree of Life memorial is a commemorative sculpture that has its home in the center of the park. It was designed to pay tribute to the 5,000 Holocaust victims that are buried in the area. It is made into the shape of a willow tree, which in traditional Hungarian Jewish thinking, is a symbol of mourning. It can also represent an overturned menorah. There is also a synagogue here, with some rather famous copies of Torahs housed in their ark.

The park was started in the 1990s after Hungary was returned to a democratic state. A large donation from the world famous Estee Lauder (approximately $5 million U.S.) made the whole memorial possible, with completion having occurred in 1996.

You can walk by the outside of the park to see the tree, but it's probably better to go inside and see it (staying outside is free while going inside requires an admission fee).
Great Synagogue

4) Great Synagogue (must see)

Visiting this complex is one of the most interesting – and rather moving – experiences in Budapest. Built in the 1850s as a place of worship for the Neolog Jews, it is the second largest building of its kind in the world – topped only the Temple Emanu-El in New York City. Like its neighbor on Rombach Street, this synagogue on Dohány Street was also designed by a Viennese architect, Ludwig Forster, in a Moorish Revival style that is beautifully preserved today. Located in the old Jewish neighborhood, the synagogue is part of a larger complex that also includes the Heroes' Temple, the graveyard, the Memorial, and the Jewish Museum – all worthy of a visit. Dohány Street itself carries strong Holocaust connotations as it constituted the border of the Budapest Ghetto.

The Great Synagogue underwent extensive restoration in the 1990s after massive damage during the Second World War and after great neglect during the communist years.

Its twin octagonal towers that protect the entrance are crowned by onion domes, making the structure visible all over the city. There is a beautiful stained glass rosette above the entrance. The enormous nave soars to almost 40 feet in height and you can see the influence of Gothic, Romantic, and Byzantine art throughout the beautiful interior, complete with a new mechanical organ that replaced the 19th century one.

As in many other synagogues, the seats on the ground level are for men, while those on the upper gallery are for women. In all, there is place for almost 3000 people.

You will also want to look for the Jewish Heroes’ mausoleum next door, or go upstairs and spend some time in the museum and archives as they are particularly informative and enlightening. The cemetery and gardens contain monuments to Jews who died during the Holocaust, as well as the bodies of non-Jewish people who helped protect the lives of many people.

There are a number of tour groups led at any time in a variety of languages – but as a visitor, you must remember to dress modestly, or you can pay for an overall-type thing if your clothing isn't suitable.
Consider going upstairs and spending some time in the museum and archives, too, as they are particularly informative and enlightening.

Opening Hours:
Rabbinical Seminary

5) Rabbinical Seminary

Rabbinical Seminary was founded in the very beginning of the 20th century. The seminary has a vast library giving the visitor access to over 150 000 highly valued works of Jewish literature. The rabbinical Seminary is one of the few that were operating during the regime of the communists.
Holocaust Memorial Center

6) Holocaust Memorial Center (must see)

The Holocaust Museum was opened to the public in February of 2004. The mission of this place is to present and preserve a permanent history of the Holocaust, and the role that the Hungarian people played during this part of World War II history. During this time, over 500,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis. There were also 50,000 Roma who were executed during the oppression.

The site used to be a synagogue. As plans were being made to build the museum, a decision was made to include the temple in the museum. So, it was renovated as well.

One of the things you will note about the displays is the very personal touch that has been used. There are accounts of real people here. In the first exhibit, called the Wedding Room, you will be taken back in time to how life was prior to the start of the war. You will then be taken to the Synagogue display, which has glass pews that contain pictures of lost houses of prayer, and murdered individuals. You will finally be brought to the place where the museum commemorates the citizens of Hungary and the foreign diplomats who risked their lives to help the Jews.

Why You Should Visit:
A well planned and executed exhibition, both informative and moving.
Combines individual family histories with overall political movements.

Opening Hours:
Thu-Sun: 10am-6pm, closed on Mondays

Walking Tours in Budapest, Hungary

Create Your Own Walk in Budapest

Create Your Own Walk in Budapest

Creating your own self-guided walk in Budapest is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Walking Tour Around Margaret Island

Walking Tour Around Margaret Island

Margaret Island on the river Danube is a popular recreational area. Stretching for around 2.5 km, this place was declared a public park in 1908. Beautiful landscaped parks, ancient ruins and various sports facilities dot the island. The island can be accessed by the Margaret Bridge on the south and the Arpad Bridge in the north. This is a quiet place to laze around and enjoy your day. Vehicular...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 km
Walking Tour on Andrassy Utca

Walking Tour on Andrassy Utca

Andrassy Avenue, recognized as a World Heritage site in 2002, is a fine boulevard in the city that dates back to 1870. The entire stretch is lined with cafés, restaurants, luxury shops and cultural institutions. The long, wide road that connects Downtown and City Park is lined with trees and renovated villas and palaces. At the City Park end is the Heroes Square where the most important national...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 km
City Park Area Leisure Walk

City Park Area Leisure Walk

When in Budapest, do not fail to make it to the famous baths. The thermal springs, besides providing a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, are also claimed to have curative powers for muscular ailments. With the locals, it is a favorite way to socialize and a hot soak in the waters is often combined with a relaxing massage afterwards. The baths are open from 6am to 7pm every day. Besides the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
Nightlife Tour

Nightlife Tour

A major city that attracts a lot of visitors each year, Budapest offers a healthy selection of hot bars and clubs where guests are encouraged to party all night long. The diversity of the venues found on the Budapest Nightlife Tour is notable, including decadent nightclubs with heart-thumping live DJs spinning the latest house and techno, hip and artsy crowds relaxing with a cocktail to jazz and...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Ruin Pubs Tour

Ruin Pubs Tour

A truly unique attraction to the city of Budapest, ruin pubs are thriving modern establishments that are located inside old abandoned buildings. The antiquity inherent in their architecture adds a certain character to these pubs. Inside the spots found on the Budapest Ruin Pubs Tour guests are treated to an assortment of entertainment opportunities, including hot DJ sets, live musical acts, film...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
Buda Orientation Walk

Buda Orientation Walk

The capital of Hungary Budapest is a relatively young city, resulted from an 1873 merger between Buda on the western bank of the Danube and Pest on the east. Set on a number of hills, Buda is the site of a grand Hapsburg palace with a detached, imperial air of old-time wealth. While in Buda, you can enjoy sweeping views of the opposite Pest, lying across the river, from the Fisherman's...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

15 Must Buy Hungarian Things in Budapest

15 Must Buy Hungarian Things in Budapest

Other than the standalone language and catchy Czardas tune, there's a lot more to memorize Hungary by. Here are some of the things you might want to carry from Budapest to your family and friends back...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Budapest for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Budapest has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money getting around Budapest and visiting the city's multiple highlights, you may want to resort to the Budapest Card.

Among other conveniences, this card allows its bearer to explore Budapest's top attractions, tours, and restaurants either completely free or with great discounts. The card provides 24-, 48-, 72-, 96- or 120-hour passes to these locations, plus free ride on public transportation, thus putting Budapest at your fingertips!

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few Budapest hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: Carat Boutique Hotel, Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest, The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Budapest, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Budapest typically costs somewhere between US$20+ and US$90+ per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker bus or cruise boat to enjoy sightseeing of Budapest in comfort from either land or water, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able to get on and off at any of the stops along the four interconnecting bus routes (your ticket is valid for all four) or the Danube riverbanks as often as you like.

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour of Budapest – this usually lasts up to 2 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the Hungarian capital. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have by walking.

- Pedal your way around Budapest on a 3-hour bike tour visiting the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Acquaint yourself up-close with the wonders of Budapest on a 3-hour walking tour of the UNESCO-listed and other heritage sites of the Hungarian capital, plus many more unexpected gems of this magical city.

- Awaken your taste buds to the highlights of Hungarian gastronomy on a 4-hour guided gourmet food tour of Budapest to sample some of the tastiest treats of the famously hearty Hungarian cuisine the city has to offer. Apart from feasting on its gastronomic treasures, with each bite you will also learn about the culinary culture of Budapest.

- Explore the centuries-long fascinating and complicated history of the Hungarian Jews. Take a guided Jewish heritage walk in Budapest to visit the historic Jewish quarters, memorials and synagogues of the city, home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Budapest, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like the Etyek wine region, the Danube Bend, or Pecs. For as little as circa US$80+ to US$140 per person you will get a chance to savor some of Hungary’s delicious wines and learn some tricks of the local winemaking trade, visit the beautiful cities along the Danube Bend, travel to the old Hungarian capital Esztergom, get a chance to enjoy Mediterranean atmosphere amid the land-locked country, see the remnants of Turkish presence in Hungary, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up straight from your hotel in Budapest and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned minibus or private vehicle to the destination of your choice and back again.