​Private Jewish Heritage tour to Russia

Private Jewish Heritage tour to Russia

Private tours with car, driver and private guide Below you find an itinerary we've done from clients. This tour will help you to discover the Jewish Heritage in Russia. You will not only become familiar with the major tourist attractions of Moscow and St Petersburg - the most beautiful Russian cities, but also learn about the life, religion, history and culture of Jews in Russia today

This is just a sample and each tour is customizable for each client based on interests, budget and energy level . 

Moscow, capital of Russia is one of the biggest cities of the world hosting more than 9 million people. 

Founded in 1147, Moscow boasts a stark mix of classic Russian architecture with mansions and palaces of merchant class of Imperial Russia and Lenin and Stalin’s avant-garde and neo-classicist monuments erected to honor the power of the people. 

St. Petersburg that was founded by Peter the Great almost six centuries after Moscow is the cultural center of Russia, boasting some of the world’s greatest museums including the renowned Hermitage. The city is often referred to as the Venice of the North. The peculiar heritage of the both capitals is inseparably connected with the history of the whole of Russia, and is carefully preserved in hundreds of museums. 

Our tour is specially designed for people wishing to see best of the both capitals of Russia within a short time period. 

You will see traditional Russian palaces in Moscow and Imperial buildings of St Petersburg, you will visit one of the oldest Russian royal residences, the Kremlin, and the European-style Winter Palace. You will also see Kolomenskoye, the summer residence of the Russian Czars since the time of Ivan the Terrible. 

Day 1 Moscow 

Arrival to Moscow, meeting with a guide at the airport. Short tour of the city by car. Transfer to hotel. 

Day 2  Moscow, Sightseeing tour Excursion around Moscow. 

Although records show that the area was inhabited in Neolithic times, the first mention of Moscow (Moskva in Russian) was in 1147 when a fort was built beside the Moskva River. The city grew from this, soon becoming the most important trading center in Russia and its capital, until 1712 when Peter the Great decreed that his new city of St. Petersburg should be the capital. 

In 1918, after the Civil War, Lenin reinstated Moscow as the capital. In September 1997, Moscow celebrated its 850th anniversary. The city has a population of 8.8 million (greater Moscow is estimated to be closer to 14 million) and covers 340 square miles (880 sq. km). For most of this century, Moscow was not only the capital of Russia, but the center of world communism, as well as the political and economic center of all the Soviet Union Republics. The appearance of the city center is a result of the massive reconstruction instituted by Stalin in the 1930s, calling for the demolition of much of Moscow’s historic heart. Replacements were monumental stone government buildings that included seven “Stalin Gothic” (or wedding cake) buildings that dominate the Moscow skyline. 

Many other classic buildings were slowly allowed to deteriorate during Soviet rule, but fortunately were not demolished. The Soviet flag flew for the last time on 25 December 1991, and since then Moscow has been transformed. 

Beautiful pre-Revolutionary buildings that had been allowed to fall into disrepair under the Soviet system are being lovingly restored to their former glory On the tour you enjoy the view from Sparrow Hills and see the Moscow State University, which is housed in one of Stalin’s gothic-style skyscrapers. The tour also includes Gorky Park, the Bolshoi Theatre, and Victory Park on Poklonnaya Hill. Second part of excursion: Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (a pre-Romanov monastery hidden in the center of Moscow). The Novodevichy compound contains a spectacularly beautiful church as well as historical and art exhibits which feature paintings, woodwork, metalwork, embroidery, illuminated books, and jewels. Strangely enough, the main attraction of the convent is its cemetery. Such luminaries as Gogol, Chekhov, Scriabin, Mayakovsky, Stanislavsky, Prokofiev, Eisenstein, Khrushchev, Chaliapin are buried there. 

Visit to Memorial Synagogue. Free time. 

Day 3 The Kremlin 

Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Excursion to Kremlin. You will stroll across Red Square, perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Russia along with St. Basil’s Cathedral. The square owes its origin to Ivan III, who in the late 15th century had all buildings removed from the eastern wall of the Kremlin. For the next 400 years, this newly formed open-area was utilized as a trading center. In 1920 all traders were banned from the square, and in the early 1960s automobile traffic was banned, making Red Square accessible to pedestrians only. St. Basil’s was built between 1555 and 1561 to celebrate Ivan the Terrible’s conquering of the Tatar stronghold Kazan on October 1, 1552. Legend has it Ivan had the architect blinded so he could never build anything as beautiful again. 

You will walk through the GUM department store, the largest shopping center in all of Russia. GUM was built in 1893 and it sits opposite the Kremlin on Red Square. The building is characterized by a vast glass ceiling, ornate bridges, and stucco design work. In the afternoon you’ll walk cross the square and through Alexander’s Garden along the Kremlin wall to the Kremlin entrance. 

We’ll begin our tour of the Moscow Kremlin complex and the Armory Museum. The Moscow Kremlin is the center of Moscow and of Russian politics. A large walled castle situated on Borovitsky Hill, the Kremlin is the former home of the tsars and the seat of Russian government. It dates mainly from the fifteenth century, although the first wooden fort was built on the site in 1150. The highest building within the Kremlin is the Ivan the Great Bell Tower with two golden domes. At the side of the tower is the Tsar Bell, the world’s largest at 202 tons, which was cast in 1730. During a fire in 1737 an 11 ton piece cracked off the rim. 

The Cathedral of the Assumption, built in 1479, was used for the coronation of the tsars. The Cathedral of the Archangel, completed in 1509, was used for burying them; forty-six tsars were laid to rest within the cathedral. Also inside the Kremlin walls we find the Armory, Russia's oldest museum and one of its most impressive. 

Built in the 18th century and surrounded by 800 captured Napoleonic cannons, the Armory Museum contains a display of jewels and court regalia, armor and weapons from the Romanov dynasty. 

Founded in 1776, the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia is one of the best musical theatres in the world. Let us know if you need reservation for evening performance. 

The building was constructed in 1825 by the architect Osip Bove and reconstructed after a fire by the architect Albert Kavos in 1856. The history of the Bolshoi Theatre includes many distinguished singers and ballet dancers who passed on the traditions of Russian ballet, the musical school and acting from generation to generation. The real golden age of the Russian opera and ballet arts was connected with the arrival of Feodor Shalyapin, Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya and many others.  Many famous foreign theatre troupes and outstanding actors have performed on its stage: La Scala, Vienna Staatsoper, various opera and ballet troupes from America , England , Sweden.  At present almost 2500 people work for the Bolshoi Theatre. 

Day 4 Armory, The State Tretyakov Picture Gallery 

Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Excursion to the Armory. Inside the Kremlin walls we find the Armory, Russia's oldest museum and one of its most impressive. Built in the 18th century and surrounded by 800 captured Napoleonic cannons, the Armory Museum contains a display of jewels and court regalia, armor and weapons from the Romanov dynasty. Second part of excursion: The State Tretyakov Picture Gallery. The Tretyakov was founded by 19th-century Russian merchant, Pavel Tretyakov, who spent 40 years and much of his fortune collecting and preserving works of art by Russian artists. Exhibits contain works of Russian art from the 11th century to the present, and includes mosaics, icons, paintings and sculptures by such artists as Rublev, Repin, Surikov, Ivanov, Levitan, Kuinji, Aivazovsky, Savrasov, and many others. 

The entire collection contains 5,000 paintings, 3,000 works of ancient Russian art, 900 sculptures, and 30,000 drawings and engravings. The gallery also demonstrates the multi-ethnic art of 20th-century Russia; however, the modern art is housed in the now separate New Tretyakov Art Gallery, which we will visit later during our stay in Moscow. 

Evening transfer to the railway station. 

Departure to St.Petersburg by high speed Sapsan train. Arrival, transfer to hotel.

Day 5 St. Petersburg. 

A City tour, Hermitage State Museum Breakfast at the hotel. 

Excursion around the city. Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, St. Petersburg is Russia’s second-largest city. 

It was known as Leningrad from 1924 to 1991, and for a short time before that, between 1919 and 1924, the city was called Petrograd, the russified form of Petersburg (Germanic names being unpopular at this time). The city is situated in the delta of the Neva River on the Gulf of Finland. St. Petersburg flourished as the center of the Russian economy and culture while serving as the capital of the Russian Empire. Its role was only slightly diminished after the nation’s seat of government moved back to Moscow in 1918. 

St. Petersburg has a distinctive layout. The historical center is situated on the south bank of the Neva River, and the city spreads out over forty-two delta islands, including Vasilyevsky Ostrov (Vasily Island) on the north bank. Because of the abundance of river channels and canals (sixty-five in total), the city is sometimes referred to as the 'Venice of the North'. 

Often regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, St. Petersburg is distinguished by its sumptuous public buildings, designed for the tsars by Italian architects. You will visit the Great Choral Synagogue built in Moresque style in 1893.

There are premises nearby : Wedding Hall, Meeting Hall, Library, Kosher Shop.The Synagogue was renovated through financial assistance of Edmond Safra. You will see the Conservatoire, founded by Anton Rubenstein, many Jewish students graduated  from it. Take a drive through Englishmen Embankment where luxurious houses of  Ginsberg & Polyakov used to be. 

In the Downtown  you will see a beautiful bank built Ippolite Vavelberg He was one of the richest Jews in St-Petersburg. Stop by the former Stock Exchange. Many brokers were Jewish. You will see the University & the Academy of Arts which were Centers of cultural life of Jewish community. 

Marc Chagal & Joseph Brodsky lived in St-Petersburg, you will see this neighborhood as well. 

Second part of the excursion: We begin with a guided tour of the famous Hermitage State Museum. It was built in 1754-62 as the principal home of the tsars, and was later rebuilt in 1839 after the original was destroyed by fire. One of the world’s great art museums, it is housed in the tsar’s  former Winter Palace, overlooking the imposing Palace Square. Tsarina Catherine II began the collection, and those following added much more. One can spend many hours wandering  around the museum's 500 rooms and exhibits; to see everything reportedly requires walking 14 miles. 

There are entire rooms devoted to each of the Grand Masters.   

Day 6 St. Petersburg, Peterhof 

Breakfast at the hotel.  Meeting with the guide at the hotel lobby. 

Half-day tour to Peterhof (former summer residence of the Russian Tsars.) The palaces and garden ensembles were designed by the great architects and best gardeners of the XVIII-XIX centuries. The history of Petrodvorets (called Peterhoff until 1944) begins in 1704 when Peter I built a wooden house on the Gulf while overseeing the construction of the nearby Kronstadt Fortress. In 1713 he began transforming the area into an imperial residence. The palace was inaugurated in 1723 and was later expanded by the Empress Elizabeth. The Grand Palace dominates the estate. The interiors of it are similar to what we saw in Catherine’s palace. 

Most of the emperors and empresses used the palace for functions and official purposes. Smaller mansions were used for daily life, like Catherine’s Pavilion and Monplesir Palace, the favorite of Peter the Great. Today we will tour the interior of the Monplesir  Palace, decorated in the Dutch style. 

Day 7 St. Petersburg, The Yusupov Palace. 

The Yussupov Palace situated on the bank of the Moika River is one of the most interesting places of sightseeing in Saint-Petersburg. It is one of those places, which successfully combine a charm of historical building and a fame of cultural center. Music, theatre and poesy rest there in harmony with architecture and historic background. The palace was constructed after the project by J-B Vallen-Delamote in the sixties of the XVIII century. 

Notwithstanding the fact that the Palace was redecorated several times its facade still retains its classic form. In the XIX century architects A. Mikhailov, I. Monigetti and A. Stepanov created unforgettable interiors of the Palace performing the variety of decoration and style. The Yussupov Palace keeps a mysterious atmosphere of its famous owners, everything reminds of their treasures, spectacular balls and soirees, of the last hours of notorious Grigory Rasputin and legends connected with his name. 

The White Column hall, the theatre, the Dancing hall, the Musical hall, the Chekhonin room and the Grand hall impress by their noble pure classical interior. A range of original artistic interiors shows up for the bewildered visitors. The stylistically rich and magnificent Blue room is followed by the Green room, then by the Red, the Mavritansky rooms and others. A special attention is usually paid to the exhibition "Grigory Rasputin" whose story you will hear from the guide. 

Continue to Old Jewish Cemetery 

Day 8 St.Petersburg  Departure from St.Petersburg. 

Included:  accommodation in 4- 5* hotels , breakfast daily included  Roundtrip airport-hotel-train transfers  All sightseeing with private car, driver, English speaking guide in both cities Train tickets 1st class Moscow-St.Petersburg 

This is a suggested itinerary, and customized for each client. 

It can be done separately for St. Petersburg, cruise clients, and pre-post River Cruises stay.

Special experiences available. please inquire.