Tracing Jewish history
This tour is a mixed experience of Jewish, Lithuania and Latvian history and modern life. You will see most beautiful places and enjoy slow and easy tour!
arrival to Riga.
Meeting at the airport and transfer to hotel. Time for lunch and coffee.
In the afternoon you will start a tour of Riga. Today you will have part of the tour that include bus and the walk in the old town we will leave for Saturday.
You will start from a famous Riga’s market tour, further visiting Ghetto Museum, old Jewish district. Maskavas Suburb is the melting pot of Riga‘s different ethnicities. The district was developed in 19th century on the road to Moscow (hence the name). It is a mishmash of large brick edifices and two floored wooden apartment buildings which became a Riga Ghetto. You will also visit a monument for the Great Synagogue, that was destroyed in 1941.
Shabbat in Riga. Walking tour of the old town.
Today you will enjoy walking in Riga. Medieval old town and art nouveau city center is the reason why Riga attracts so many travelers. Before the 20th century Riga’s city was very limited in construction behind the town wall, but with an immense economic growth, that was influenced by new rail lines and Riga’s port, city started a rapid expansion. That is why in the end of 19th century Riga was built the way you can see now.
An interesting fact that in medieval old town you will also find different styles architecture from a medieval to Art nouveau – and the reason is similar – due to the city wall construction space was limited, but city merchants had money enough to upgrade their living conditions, so they were rebuilding their parents houses already in the mid of the 19th century. Enjoy the city, canal, and green parks!
Morning trip to Vilnius visiting Rumbula, Panevezys and Trakai on the way.
You will start with Rumbula, finalizing a first part of Latvian tour.
Further you will drive to Panevezys for a quick tour of this famous Yeshiva’s spot.
Around the lunch time you will come to Trakai.
Trakai is a medieval capital of Lithuania mostly famous by unique castle located on the island in the middle of the lake. To see all the islands, you will take a boat tour. This little village is built on the banks of numerous lakes and just the lake where the castle stands, has 21 island!
On the way to Vilnius you will stop in Ponar.
In the evening you will arrive to Vilnius.
This morning, after breakfast, you'll start a tour of the historical center of Vilnius (Vilna) walking to Cathedral Square, President's Palace, and Vilnius University. Later, you'll visit the old Jewish quarter's narrow streets and the courtyards of the middle-age ghetto, Great Vilna Synagogue, and shulhoyf. Vilna Gaon, the great Jewish scholar who was born 1720 in nowadays Belarus, spent an important part of his life in Vilnius. This city is a center of the struggle between Mitnagdim and Hasidim. You'll also pass by the world-renowned Strashun library that had more than 6000 volumes at the end of the 19th century. Next, the territory of the Large Ghetto, the courtyard of the Judenrat, the fight of the Ghetto prisoners against the Nazis – Vilnius has a vast Jewish history.
The old Jewish quarter is the center of modern art and like in the old days full of tiny shops, but beside this place you will also walk to Uzupis – the area that is proudly called Montmartre of Vilnius, and this name was given by the Paris back in the end of 20th century. Did you know that this area has its own constitution and that it is written also in Hebrew?
In the afternoon you will visit grave of Vilna Gaon, Lithuanian Parliament and city business center that is located on the other side of the river.
In the morning you will travel to the second largest city Kaunas, visiting Ziezmariai synagogue on the way. Ziezmariai used to be a one of the oldest settlements for Jewish community, dated back to the 16th century and this reconstructed synagogue is unique in its wooden architecture.
Visiting main sights of Kaunas – Slabodka, Lietukis garage, Lea Goldberg school and IXth Fort will give you a broader perspective of Jews live in the beginning of the XXth century, and you will finish the story of Kaunas visiting CH.Sugihara house – a Japanese ambassador who saved thousands of Jews issuing them “visas for life”.
In the afternoon time for rest – you will drive to Birstonas, famous mineral springs resort and spend your time in Vytautas Mineral SPA.
Be sure to take you bathing suit to enjoy it!
After breakfast you will leave to Kedainiai, Zaumel (Zeimelis) and Bauska.
In Kedainiai you will see two baroque and classicist styles synagogues – they are newly renovated and considered to be the oldest in Lithuania, and the Sukkot shelter that is over 200 years old! Beside that Kedainiai is a unique shtetl that was once inhabited by Scottish, Poles, Lithuanians and Jews and has officially recognized old town like Vilnius and Kaunas.
What a marvelous day travelling through Jewish Shtetls, visiting newly renovated synagogues, a house where Gaon of Vilna spent his childhood, and places where Rabbi Kook lived! Additionally, you will visit one of the most beautiful palaces in the Baltics – Rundale palace, built by famous Italian Architect B.Rastrielli. In the evening you will come back to Riga.
Morning tour to Jurmala and Kuldiga, that is still not so well discovered by western travellers, but is a small gem of Latvia, with amazing old town and spectacular waterfall.
Transfer to the airport in the evening.