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Balkan Jewish Heritage - 15 Days Tour
The "Balkan Jewish Heritage" tour is about the Jewish history in the Balkans. This magnificent and breathtaking tour includes visiting Albania, Montenegro, Greece, Macedonia, and Kosovo. This eye-opening tour starts and ends in Tirana, Albania, the only country in the world where Germans killed not a single Jew during WW2. The Albanians are the only nation in the world to have protected the Jew like their own family members thanks to their BESA. This tour is for people interested in discovering the culture, history, and lifestyle of the Jewish community with the Albanians that are now spread in five countries. This tour provides access to the most significant Jewish sites and all of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of those five countries, old towns, beautiful beaches, dramatic mountains, and the Adriatic Riviera. This is a unique opportunity to explore the Jewish and local history in a heartbreaking and magnificent history trip, among others, enjoying the Balkan Riviera's views while traveling in breathtaking nature and tasting local food and hospitality. This is a 15 days tour, and the visits may include Kotor, Budva, Tirane, Llogora National Park, Vlore, Sarande, Butrint, Blue Eye Spring, Gjirokaster, Berat, Himare, Janina, Porto Palermo, Thessaloniki, Ohrid, Skopje, and Prizren.
Tour Details - Balkan Jewish Heritage
Balkan Jewish Heritage
Total traveling time* - 25 hours (*time is estimate)
Total traveling distance - 860 miles - 1.385 Km
Day 1: Visiting Tirana, the Albanian Capital City
This day will start by visiting the center of Tirana and Main Boulevard. We will have several short walks around the magnificent Skanderbeg Square. We will enjoy this new and modern build square and admire all the buildings surrounding it—afternoon at leisure.
Overnight in Tirane.
Day 2: Berat, the White Crown
Berat is a UNESCO world heritage town and known as "The White City," but the locals call it the "The Crown of the Balkans." It is the oldest and the most visited place in Albania. Even those who come to Albania to enjoy the seaside get the opportunity to jump and see this gem-like city. After arrival, our day will continue visiting the "Kala" neighborhood and the "Onufri" museum, and the Jewish street. Overnight in Berat.
Day 3: Back to Ancient and the Jewish Landing Port
This day will start by driving to Apollonia Archaeological Park. Apollonia's site lay on the territory of the Taulanti, a cluster of Illyrian tribes that remained closely involved with the settlement for centuries. The city was said to have originally been named Gylakeia after its founder, Gylax. Still, the name was later changed to honor the god Apollon. Our day will continue with a walk at the Jewish street and around the TriPort, where the first Sephardic Jewish arrived from Spain and Portugal. Later on, we will walk around Vlore's main promenade and a coffee break close to the sea. Afternoon at leisure
Overnight in Vlore.
Day 4: Albanian Coastal Road
This day, we will drive deep towards south Albania via the Albanian Coastal road, which many believe to be the Mediterranean's most beautiful coastal road. Have the first stop on top of Llogora Pass and enjoy the Ionian sea's most unique view from more than 1,700 feet above the sea level, along with the breathtaking view that this Park has to offer. The next visit is in Porto Palermo, where the Ali Pasha Castle stands like a barrier in front of the blue rocky sea to protect the country. The bay of Porto Palermo once served as an important secret military submarine base, and the tunnel is still visible. The day will continue with a visit to the ruins of the 5th century BC Jewish Synagogue, the very first ever Jewish settlement in Europe. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Sarande.
Day 5: Two UNESCO Gems
This day will start with visiting Butrint Archaeological Park, a World-Class Unesco World Heritage site. Founded in the VII century bc by the Kaons of Epirus, it became one of the most important cities in the Ionian sea. We will visit it is the best-preserved Archaeological site in Albania and a World Class UNESCO Site. This day will continue with driving to Gjirokaster and the Argjiro Castle's visit, the biggest castle in the Balkans and the second biggest in Europe. Overnight in Gjirokaster.
Day 6: Romaniote Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum1*
Ali Pasha Castle and Meteora Monasteries 2*
This day will start with driving towards Janina, officially Ioannina, in Greece. Janina was the former Albanian capital city before 1912, when the superpowers decided to give this Albanian territory to Greece. The day will continue with visiting the old part and the 2*Ali Tepelena castle and the visit of the only 1*Romaniote Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum in the western hemisphere. 2* Drive to Meteora and visit the Monasteries.
1*Overnight in Janina. 2* Overnight in Meteora
*Subject to the availability of the Romaniote museum personnel
Day 7: Thessaloniki Synagogue
Today we will hit the road toward Thessaloniki, where the biggest Sephardic Jewish arrived from Spain. We will visit the beauties of the town along with two Synagogues of the city.
Overnight in Thessaloniki.
Day 8: Manastir, the biggest Jewish settlement of Macedonia
Today we will enter Macedonia and visit Manastir, aka Bitola. This the place where there is a big Jewish cemetery and has, for a long time, been one of the biggest Jewish communities of the Balkans. Overnight in Manastir - Bitola. This city is also important for the Albanians as their Alphabet was established in the Congress of Manastir in 1908.
Day 8: The Ilirian Lychnidos - Ohrid
Today we will drive deeper into Macedonia to visit Ohrid. In antiquity, the city was known under the ancient Illyrian name -Lychnidos, meaning "city of light."By 879 AD, the town was no longer called Lychnidos. Still, it was referred to by the assimilated native people as Ohrid from the Slavic words vohrid, meaning "on the hill," as the ancient town was at the top of the hill. Visit the Old town and the Amphitheater. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Ohrid.
Day 9: Mother Teresa Birthplace
This day will drive towards Skopje, the birthplace of Mother Teresa and the Macedonian Capital city of big contrasts. We will visit the Holocaust Museum and the "Aleksandar" square, the stone bridge, the old town, and enjoy local food at a very traditional restaurant.
Overnight in Skopje.
Day 10: The NewBorn Country
Today will drive to Kosovo and visit Prizren, a typical Albanian town and part of Unesco. Will visit the old town, the main square and the promenade, the Albanian league house. Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the walks and local food.
Overnight in Prizren.
Day 11: Visiting Budva
This day will start by driving to Budva, Montenegro, to visit the old town and the Citadel. Budva is a relatively small town, but it has a very nice neighborhood around the old town, with plenty of coffee shops and people walking around. Budva’s Old Town lies on a small peninsula and represents a treasure chest of cultural heritage. Crossed with narrow streets and squares are famous buildings, the Church Sv. Trojica, housing the tomb of the exquisite writer Stjepan Mitrov Ljubisa. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Budva.
Day 12: Old Town and Kotor Bay
This day will start with driving to Kotor and will continue visiting the Old Town and starting the walking tour. This walking city gives you a great introduction to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will visit the Square of Arms, the Clock Tower, Flour Square with Pima and Buca palaces, St Tryphon Cathedral, the Bokelian Navy Square with Karampana, and the St Luke Square with St Luke church. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Kotor.
Day 13: Visiting Kruje, the Ottoman Nightmare
Today we will hit the road towards Kruje, the Gjergj Kastrioti stronghold during the war with the Ottomans in the 16th century. This day will continue with visiting the Castle, the Nation Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, and the Old Bazaar. Drive to Budva and afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Kruje.
Day 14: Antinuclear Bunker
Today we will drive to Tirane and visit the 'BUNKART 2', a museum built inside an anti-nuclear bunker under the ground in a network of tunnels just meters from the Ministry of Interior. Afternoon at leisure.
Overnight in Tirane.
Day 15: Tour over after breakfast
There are no activities today, and this is the end of the Tour and services. Breakfast is provided. If you have booked a post-tour transfer, you will be escorted to your destination or Tirana International Airport.
Faleminderit and have a safe flight back home!
Our tours are relatively active as it is one of the most important part of Apollon Tours experience.
On our tours you'll need to happily…
1. Carry/roll your luggage. If you cannot our staff will help you carry your luggage.
2. Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in good weather conditions. No activities in heavy rain/snow or high temperatures.
3. Sleep in centrally located hotels.
4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.