We will commence our tour of Vilnius from its cradle – Gediminas Castle Hill and the remnants of the Upper Castle. Down to the Cathedral square where one can observe the beautiful Neo Classical Cathedral. Continue through the narrow street to another square to see the Presidential Palace and to visit the Old Vilnius University, founded in 1579. Walk along medieval Castle street in the heart of the Old City.
Visit Vilnius Synagogue built in 1903 in Moorish-Romanesque style. Visit to the State Jewish museum – called Tolerance Centre.
Music school where Jasha Heifetz, the great violinist did his first steps in his music career, the building of the famous ORT school and the house of the famous Tarbut Gimnazia (high school), nowadays JCC. Former Yiddish theatre, Rabbinical Council and the place of Theodor Herzl’s visit to Vilnius. Benedictine convent and story of saving 12 Jewish souls by Lithuanian Righteous Among the Nations.
Walking in the medieval Jewish Quarter of Vilnius, called Lithuanian Jerusalem. Here once stood the house of the Gaon of Vilna; next to it was the Great Synagogue of Vilna and the “Shulhoif” with its numerous of prayer houses.
Continue walking in the Large Ghetto of Vilna; explore the story of suffering, resistance and struggle against the Nazis. FPO – United Partisan Organization. Judenrat office and the story of “choiceless choices”. Recreated hiding place in the cellar, where Jews were hiding after the liquidation of the Ghetto. Ghetto Theatre as the centre of Spiritual resistance.
Drive to Ponar forest and Holocaust memorial – the sight of extermination of 100 thousand people among them 70 thousand Jews.
One of the most impressive sights in Vilnius is the “Gothic triangle” which includes St. Anne’s church. From here drive to see the pearl of Baroque architecture in Vilnius – St. Peter and Paul’s Church – which has more than 2000 statues and bas-relieves as its interior decoration.
A tour of Trakai – the land of lakes and forests- the ancient capital and the residence of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania with its 14th century insular castle. Today it houses the museum of Lithuanian history. Visit the Karaite museum representing the story of this small ethnic group, confessing Judaism, brought from Crimea 600 years ago. Visit the unique Karaite cemetery.
Drive to Kaunas, the second large city of the country. The Old Town of Kaunas with its narrow streets and cobbled squares, cozy cafes and art galleries. Walk on A. Mapu street – named after the author of the first Hebrew novel of the 19th century. Pass by L. Zamenhof street – a famous doctor and inventor of Esperanto language. Continue walking along the main pedestrian street of the city, “Laisves aleja”, with its 2-3 storey buildings just as they looked before the war. The Art Gallery of M.K.Ciurlionis, the outstanding Lithuanian painter and composer. Visit “Ohel Yaacov” the only functioning Synagogue in Kaunas today, built in 1871.
Drive to “Slobodka” – Jewish neighborhood since 1500′. Building of the world-famous Slobodka Yeshiva. The History Museum and the Memorial of the Ninth Fort – the place where Nazis and their collaborators murdered over 50 thousand people, most of them Jewish.
En route stop in Kedainiai – a citadel of Radzivil family, one of the most powerful nobility families in the late middle ages in Lithuania and also a town where the Vilna Gaon lived and worked and where three synagogues have remained.
Upon arrival to the seaport Klaipeda, former Memel, walk in the Old Town of distinguished for its German influenced medieval architecture, the Theatre square, the statue of Annke von Thorau , Linden street with an old German Neo-Gothic post-office, walking in Mazvydas Sculpture Park, excellent example of Lithuanian fine arts and more.
A day for visit Neringa National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site, peninsula dividing the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea. En route stop at Juodkrante village, walking in the forest to the Hill of Witches, a vivid example of Lithuanian folk wooden sculptures which tell us plenty of legends and tales. Another stop will be to watch one of the biggest populations of cormorants in the area. Continue for Nida, a lovely summer resort with its 60 meter-high sand dunes, pine-trees growing on the very seashore, Thomas Mann summerhouse, where he created his famous novel “Joseph and His Brothers”, Fisherman’s museum and numerous amber galleries.
Drive to Palanga – a popular resort on the Baltic Sea, famous for its kilometer-long beaches and a beautiful Botanic Park with the biggest Amber Museum in the Baltic States. Next stop at the Hill of Crosses, a unique site of Catholic pilgrimage, containing around 500.000 crosses and also a symbol of Lithuanians’ resistance against the foreign rule in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In a short time afterwards pass the border and start the second country of the tour – Latvia. First stop in Jelgava (former Mittau), the capital of the former Duchy of Courland to see the huge Duke’s Palace. Next is the visit to the summer residence of the Duke, the wonderful Baroque Rundale Palace, both built by the famous Italian architect F.B. Rastrelli, the author of the Winter Palace in St.Petersburg. Visit the museum and the adjacent beautiful French park. Arrival to the capital of Latvia – Riga.
City tour of Riga, founded in 1201. Walking in the streets and lanes of the medieval Old Town. Concerto piccolo of the extraordinary organ (6781 pipes) music in Dome Cathedral (1211). The Great and Small Guilds’ houses and the economical history of the city, the Swedish gate and the Beer-brewers street, Cats’s house and its superstitious legend, the “Three Brothers” – architectural complex of three houses built in different centuries, the House of the “Blackheads” – single merchants’ guild, St. Peter church and its tower. Finish the touring day in the famous district of Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) architecture, observing the outstanding collection of numerous residence houses constructed in the years 1885-1915.
Visit to the biggest Central market in the Baltics located in 5 huge hangars ones used for airships construction; continue to “Maskavas forshtadt” a former suburb of Riga developed by foreign merchants coming to trade on the Market. This area became a home for the first Jewish settlement in Riga. Memorial ruins of the Great Choral Synagogue of Riga. The Wall of Righteous among the Nations. Jewish School founded in the 19th cent. Ghetto area – the Small Ghetto and the “Reichs Juden” Ghetto. Synagogue on Maskavas street, Hospital “Bikur Holim”, Old Jewish Cemetery. Visit to Rumbula and Bikierniki Holocaust Memorials, where the Nazis and their local collaborators murdered thousands of Jews from Latvia, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Salaspils – the memorial site of a former concentration camp.
Visit Sigulda the “Switzerland of Latvia” located on the riverside of the Gauja river. Romantic ruins of Sigulda Castle, Gutmana caves full of spring water and old legends; Turaida Castle museum and beautiful sculpture park, reflecting the rich folk heritage of Latvian people. Drive along the Baltic Sea coast to Tallinn. Parnu – resort area in Estonia and a cradle of Estonian independence. Arrival in the capital of Estonia – Tallinn.
Full day city tour of Tallinn, including the Old Town, one of the most preserved in Nothern Europe. It is divided to Upper Town with breathtaking panoramic views and Lower Town, where in the middle ages all the trades and crafts were handled. In the Upper Town you will see the impressive Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevski Cathedral, with its excellent acoustics, Town fortifications, the Toompea Castle, “Kiek in de Kok” tower, admire the view of Tallinn harbor. In the Lower town – City Hall Square, ancient pharmacy since 1422, Dominican Monastery, St.Olaf church, once the highest in Europe. You will visit Katharina guilds, the workshops of different craftsmen, such as hatter, tailor, leather-dresser, glassmaker, potter, stain glass master, etc. and will be able to watch them working. In the afternoon visit to the Singing field, where the nowadays Estonian independence woke up. Next is the visit to Pirita, a suburb of Tallinn, where the sailing competition of 1980 Olympics was held. On the way back to the city stop at a beautiful “Rusalka” monument and visit to the Kadriorg Park and Palace erected in the early 18th century.
We will finish the tour by visiting the newly built Tallinn Synagogue and the Jewish museum of Estonia.
DMC JeruLita operates small and medium size groups in cooperation with our partners in Israel, USA, Canada, South Africa and Australa. We will be glad to direct you to our local travel expert who will connect you with the group we operate on the spot.