Jewish Warsaw

Pre-war Warsaw used to be where 30% of the city's inhabitants were of Jewish origin. World War II changed the fabric of Warsaw forever, as well as it left over 80% of the Polish capital destroyed by the Nazis. The formerly thriving Jewish community was forced to move to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940, being successively transported to extermination camps. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, you may follow the trail throughout what used to constitute the Jewish quarters of Warsaw, as well as where the saddest events related to Holocaust and the decimation of Polish Jews happened.

Tour Overview

Visit the parts of Warsaw where the world's second-largest Jewish population (after NY) would live prior to 1939. Take an expert-guided walking tour to discover the most important monuments to the tragic heritage of Warsaw Jews: the mystical Jewish cemetery, the only Warsaw synagogue to survive the war (Nozyk Synagogue), the area of former Warsaw Ghetto, Umschlagplatz, Jewish Historical Institute and awarded Polin History of Polish Jews. Learn of the multicultural background of Warsaw and hear a set of individual and collective stories that occurred before and throughout the brave Ghetto Uprising of 1943.

Warsaw, situated in the very heart of Poland (right between Krakow and Gdansk) is a blooming European metropolis with highrisers and remnants of Socialist-realism being the most characteristic features of its current urban planning. Somewhere in between these modern buildings, there are still a lot of pre-war Jewish heritage-related leftovers of its social and urban structure to be witnessed. Before the Second World War, there were 350,000 Jews living in the capital of the Second Polish Republic. With nearly 1/5 of Warsaw of the era occupied by the so-called Nalewki (stretching between such streets as Prosta, Zielna, Panska and Powazki, now constituting the central part of the city), Muranow and Grzybow Jewish quarters, there were plenty of synagogues, Jewish-run theatres, restaurants and markets present in the Polish capital. This enclave was where such notable individuals as Nobel Prize-awarded Issac Bashevis Singer, Samuel Goldwyn, Janusz Korczak or Wladyslaw Szpilman (the main protagonist of "the Pianist") were born and raised, among others. Despite certain tensions between particular Warsaw-dwellers on religious or cultural background, Poland would be dubbed into the Hebrew / Yiddish name of "Polin" ("[You should] dwell here"), attracting Jewish refugees from all over Europe to settle there. During your 3,5-hour tour, you will traverse the former Jewish districts of Warsaw, both bearing the proud testimony of its pre-war dwellers and the sadness-instilling scars of WWII events.

Your tour will begin in the territory of Warsaw Ghetto – the largest Nazi establishment of this kind operating in Europe at the time between 1940 and 1943. At the peak of its existence, this isolated and wall-surrounded area of nearly 3 square kilometers had about 450,000 Jewish citizens imprisoned there. During its exploration, your expert guide will not only give you an insight into the reality of life inside the ghetto, but also explain the choice of this site to serve the Nazi extermination purposes. You will be introduced into the pre-war activities led by the Jewish inhabitants of the area there, as well as learn of the second-largest (after the Warsaw Uprising of 1944) uprising carried out in Warsaw during the war: the Ghetto Uprising of 1943. Hearing the stories of such heroes as Marek Edelman or Mordechaj Anielewicz as you pass along the fragments of Ghetto Wall, Umschlagplatz assembly ramp or the moving Ghetto Heroes Monument (unveiled in 1948 in Zamenhofa street) will let them take their shape in the context of reality. A visit to the Jewish Cemetery will expose you to the second largest Jewish necropolis of Poland. This extensive cemetery is not only where notable Polish Jews have their resting place, but also where a number of persons deceased at the Ghetto were buried. The Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw is also a place letting you see some of the most impressive pieces of Jewish sacral architecture ever erected. A more uplifting part of your tour awaits you at neoromanesque Nozyk Synagogue – the only praying house of this kind spared from destruction during WWII. Completed in 1902, it still serves the purposes of Warsaw Jewish Commune. The Jewish Historical Institute will expose you to its extensive collections and installations on the Jewish presence in Poland. Operating close to Grzybowski Square, where a number of kosher restaurants and Jewish-culture related venues seem to have returned to their former glory, this important institution will make you realise the Nazis did not managed to totally annihilate the Jewish heritage of Poland (also thanks to such heroes as Irena Sendler).  A separate visit to thoroughly modern POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (opened in 2013 in an awarded postmodern building whose structure was inspired by the Biblical crossing over the Red Sea) will be yet another moment giving you a chance to explore the history of Polish Jews in a much broader context than the one unjustly limited to the outcome of World War II. The exhibition housed there is related to over a millennium of Jewish presence in Poland, as provided in an impressive, understandable and multimedia-supported form.

Interested in following the traces of Jewish heritage left in Warsaw? Contact us to have the guided tour across the Polish capital organised!

Tour Details

  • It is possible to take the Jewish Warsaw tour regardless of your place of stay in Poland. Simply - inform us of where you are and what the date of your intended visit is - we will do the rest!
  • The price includes: transport (pre-arranged hotel pick-up and drop-off), admission fees to pre-arranged attractions (the Jewish Cemetery and Nozyk Synagogue), the assistance of an English-speaking guide to individual tourists / small groups of visitors.
  • The admission fee to POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews is to be covered separately.
  • The tour encompasses the following: the Jewish Cemetery, Nożyk Synagogue, the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, a fragment of the Ghetto Wall, Umschlagplatz, the Jewish Historical Institute, the site of The Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

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