Jewels of the Baltics: Lithuania and Latvia
Situated in northern Europe along the shores of the Baltic Sea are the captivating countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, all with a storied past. On this tour specially designed for the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at American Ancestors, we will explore Jewish heritage and culture and learn about the rich history of the Baltic states, accompanied by scholar Chaim Seidler-Feller and other experts.
Our journey begins in Vilnius, once known as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” with more than 100 synagogues and some of Europe’s leading rabbinical and academic institutions. Prior to World War II Lithuanian Jews were among the most influential members of society. We will explore Vilnius’s rich history on a walking tour of the Old Town with its charming collection of baroque buildings and visit the Trakai Island Castle. Next, we travel to Riga, the capital of Latvia and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, we will learn about Riga’s prominence in medieval Europe and the role Latvian Jews played in the flourishing economic and intellectual life of the country before the Second World War. Highlights of our Riga stay include a special visit to the Jewish Museum for a summary of the region’s Jewish history and a view of the city’s mixture of medieval and elaboratively ornamented Art Nouveau buildings.
Those wishing to extend their journey will spend three nights in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities. Here, we will enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town with its mix of German, Scandinavian, and Russian architecture, as well as visits to the recently opened Beit Bela Synagogue and KUMU, one of the Baltic area’s most prestigious art museums.
Throughout the tour, we will learn from academic experts and local guides, stay in luxurious and centrally located accommodations, and enjoy delicious regional cuisine. Discover the allure of the Baltics through this immersion in landscape, architecture, culture, and memory.
Photo: Trakai Castle