Your local tour guide will meet you at the airport or at your hotel, and after you settle in, you’ll commence the tour in the southernmost capital of the Baltic States – Vilnius. We’ll walk to Gediminas Castle Hill and the remnants of the Upper Castle, then down to the Cathedral Square, where one can observe the beautiful Neo-Classical Cathedral. Continue through the narrow street to see 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 Choral Synagogue, built in 1903 in Moorish-Romanesque style. Stop by Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum and the Tolerance Centre.
During the walk into the old city, we’ll see the Music School where Jasha Heifetz, the great violinist, took his first steps in a music career. We stop at the building of the famous ORT school, and the house of the famous Tarbut Gimnazia (grammar school). Nowadays, the building houses the Jewish Community Centre.
We’ll check out the former Yiddish Theatre, developed by young actors in a warehouse building. We’ll see the Rabbi’s Council and the location of Theodor Herzl’s visit to Vilnius.
Around the corner, there is the Benedictine Convent with a curious story of saving 12 Jewish souls.
We will continue walking in the medieval Jewish Quarter of Vilnius, known to scholars as Lithuanian Jerusalem. Here once stood the house of the Vilna Gaon; just next to it was the Great Synagogue of Vilna and the “Shulhoif,” with its numerous prayer houses.
Continue walking in the Large Ghetto of Vilna; will explore the story of suffering, resistance and struggle against the Nazis. FPO – Jewish United Partisan Organization which was acting in the Ghetto. Judenrat – Jewish Council of the Ghetto, its office and the story of “choiceless choices” taken by the leaders. Recreated hiding place in the cellar, where Jews hid after the liquidation of the Ghetto. We’ll finish our walking tour next to the Ghetto Theatre, once the center of spiritual resistance.
In the afternoon, we’ll drive out to Ponar Forest and Holocaust memorial – the site of extermination of one hundred thousand people, among them seventy thousand Jews, numerous Russians, Romas, Poles and Lithuanians.
We kick off the day with one of the most impressive sites in Christian Vilnius – the “Gothic Triangle,” which includes lovely St. Anne’s church. From here, we drivei on to see the pearl of Baroque architecture in Vilnius – St. Peter and Paul’s Church – notable for its 2000+ statues and bas-reliefs.
Next, we drive out to Trakai – the land of lakes and forests, the ancient capital and residence of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, with its 14th-century insular castle. Today, it houses a fascinating Trakai History Museum with a special exhibition on Karaites, an ethnic minority who traveled to the region from Crimea more than 600 years ago. If time allows, we will also visit the unique Karaite cemetery.
Finally, we will drive to Kaunas, the second largest city of Lithuania. Walk in the Old Town of Kaunas, with its narrow streets and cobbled squares, cozy cafes and art galleries. Walk along 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” (Freedom Alley), with its 2-3-story buildings that look just as they did before the WWII.
Visit M. K. Ciurlionis National Museum of Art, an exhibit of the most outstanding Lithuanian painter and composer.
Just a few blocks down the street, we will visit the only functioning Synagogue in Kaunas – “Ohel Yaacov,” built in 1871. It has an interesting exhibition of Jewish artifacts and pictures of Lithuanian rabbis, painted by a local artist.
We will continue our visit in Kaunas with a stop at the Aleksotas Hill lookout, which rewards onlookers with a view of Kaunas. Then we’ll drive to “Slobodka,” a district of Kaunas which was a Jewish neigborhood from 1500 to WWII. We’ll visit the Yeshiva of Slobodka and discuss its place in history.
We’ll end our visit to Kaunas, paying a last tribute to the Holocaust victims at Kaunas Ninth Fort Museum and the Memorial – the place where Nazis and their local collaborators murdered over 50 thousand people, most of them Jewish.
On the way to Klaipeda, we’ll stop in the town of Kedainiai, where the Vilna Gaon lived and worked. Kedainiai is known for its three remaining synagogues and a landmark citadel of the Radzivill family, one of the most powerful Lithuanian families in the Late Middle Ages.
Upon arrival to the seaport Klaipeda, formerly named Memel, we will walk in the Old Town, distinguishable for its German-influenced medieval architecture. We’ll see Theatre Square and the statue of Annke von Thoreau reminds every visitor about the German writer Simon Dach and his famous book.
Next, we’ll follow the Linden street to see an old, but still functioning, Neo-Gothic Post Office, which is an important cultural pride of local history.
Few hundred meters away is M. Mazvydas Stone Sculpture Park, an excellent example of Lithuanian fine arts.
We can find remnants of a Jewish presence and life in almost every place on our tour in the Baltic States. Even in Klaipeda, where was a ban on the settlement of Jews, there was a Jewish Community. Today, they have the center and a prayer room which serves the last 150 Jews of Klaipeda. We will take some time to visit it and, if possible, to meet the representatives of the community.
We will devote our whole day to visit Neringa National Park. This beautiful peninsula, which divides the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Its huge sand dunes starts in the Kaliningrad enclave of the Russian Federation, and measures 95-km by 2 km.
On Jerulita’s tours, we visit a lot of sites pertaining to history, culture and art. In Neringa, we take a break from civilization and immerse ourselves in Lithuania’s beautiful seaside.
First we visit Juodkrante village, to walk through the Hill of Witches. This outdoor exhibit is a collection of oak sculptures and carvings depicting Lithuanian folk scenes, from local legends and fairy tales.
Our second stop will be to admire one of the biggest populations of cormorants in the area. Continue on toward Nida, a lovely summer resort with its 60-meter-high sand dunes, with pine trees growing on the very seashore. Many German artists and writers have found inspiration and serenity in this corner of Europe, the most famous of which was Thomas Mann. He wrote his famous novel “Joseph and His Brothers” in his summerhouse in Nida.
One can also visit Nida’s Ethnographic Fisherman’s Homestead and numerous amber galleries.
Today, we’ll need to cover about 300 km of road. Along the way, we’ll be sure to stop at several exciting stops and sites.
Our first stop is just 25 km away from Klaipeda. Palanga is a popular resort on the Baltic Sea, famous for its kilometer-long beaches and a beautiful Botanic Park. The town itself is like a big park of Baltic pine trees, designed around nature.
The next attraction is Felix Tyszkiewicz Palace and Botanical Park, which borders the seashore. There are over 200 kinds of trees and plants in this well-kept English-style park. Today the palace, houses the biggest Amber Museum in the Baltic States. Baltic Amber, often called Baltic Gold, is world-renowned and a favorite medium for many local jewelers. You can find it in almost every souvenir shop or art gallery.
Next stop is at Siauliai’s Hill of Crosses, a unique site of Catholic pilgrimage. Outside of town is a large mound and final resting place to around 500.000 crosses. Once the site of an uprising, the hill has over hte years become a symbol of Lithuanians’ resistance against foreign rule of the 19th and 20th centuries.
We cross the border and enter the second country of our tour – Latvia. First stop is Jelgava (formerly Mittau), the capital of the former Duchy of Courland, to see the huge duke’s Palace. The Baroque Rundale Palace, built by the famous Italian architect F.B. Rastrelli (who designed St. Petersburg’ Winter Palace), was the duke’s summer residence.
Rundale Palace was badly devastated by the wars and during the Soviet period, but today you will be lucky to see the tremendous restoration work and the adjacent beautiful French park.
Late afternoon arrival to the capital of Latvia – Riga.
Today, we explore the biggest city of the Baltic States. Founded in 1201 by German bishop Albert of Livonia, Riga is known for its Art Nouveau architecture and importance in the Hanseatic League. Our tour in the city center will include Park Vermanes and a statue of Michail Tal – Chess World Champion, Latvia University, Statue of Freedom, Riga Canal and Esplanade Park, and the Medieval Old Town.
We’ll drop by the Dome Cathedral, famous for its extraordinary organ music and a concerto piccolo. The last organ was installed in 1880′ and has over 6700 pipes. Even if you are not a big fan of organ music, it is worth to spend 20 minutes at noon to listen to this unique and powerful instrument.
The Great and Small Guilds’ houses will tell us about commercial history of Riga city. Just next to the guilds stands the Cats’ house, site of a superstitious legend about a merchant and his attempt to join the Great Guild.
Next up, we visit the iconic “Three Brothers” – a trio of houses nestled next to each other, built over different centuries – a great example of evolving architecture in Riga. We’ll see St. Peter Church and the House of the Blackheads, whose town hall square is the most beautiful in Riga. We’ll walk through the Beer-brewers street and leave the Old City through the Swedish Gate.
We top off the day tour exploring the famous district of Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) architecture, admiring the residences constructed in the years 1885-1915. These most ornate houses were designed by a famous architect of Jewish origins, Michail Eizenshtein.
Today, we go shopping with locals at the biggest Central market in the Baltic States. Riga’s central bazaar is located in 5 huge hangars ones which were built for Zeppelin 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.
We will walk onto Gogol Street towards the memorial ruins of the Great Choral Synagogue of Riga, and see the Wall of Righteous Among the Nations. The first Jewish secular school was founded in the 19th century in this neighborhood.
In this same area, Nazi authorities established the Riga Ghetto. Its borders altered a few times and there were two main areas: the Small Ghetto and the “Reichs Juden” Ghetto. Next, we’ll see the Old-New Synagogue on Maskavas street, and Hospital “Bikur Holim,” established in 1924.
After a short drive, we’ll reach the eastern border of the Jewish settlement – the Old Jewish Cemetery, which was devastated during WWII. Today, there stands a memorial and park where local people stroll around.
Visit Rumbula Holocaust Memorial, where the Nazis and their local collaborators murdered thousands of Jews from Latvia, Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. The last Holocaust and Genocide-related site on our tour is Salaspils – the memorial site of a former concentration camp.
On the way to Tallinn, we will visit the town of Sigulda. Locals call it the “Switzerland of Latvia” for its picturesque nature, located on the riverside of the Gauja river. Here we’ll explore the romantic ruins of Sigulda Castle built by Crusaders, who named the area Siegewald or Victory Forest, to honor their victory conquering local pagan tribes.
We will walk down to a lowland of the Gauja River to reach Gutmana caves. This curious site is full of spring water and old legends, including a famous love story of the Rose of Turaida.
We’ll pay a visit to Turaida Castle’s Museum and beautiful Stone Sculpture Park, reflecting the rich folk heritage of Latvian people. This place is famous for the celebration of summer solstice, here called Ligo, and for the Latvian Folk song festival Daina.
Drive along the Baltic Sea coast to Tallinn. We will break the drive by stopping in Parnu – a resort town in Estonia and cradle of Estonian Independence. We walk on the main pedestrian street to admire beautiful wooden houses and the statues of Voldemar Jansen. We’ll finish the visit by spending few moments on a sandy beach of Parnu.
Arrival in the northern capital of our tour of the Baltic States – Tallinn.
Nothing lasts forever, and here we are, on the last day of our tour – Tallinn, the Pearl of the Baltic States.
We embark on a full day city tour of Tallinn, including the Old Town, one of the best-preserved in Northern Europe. It is divided into Upper Town, with breathtaking panoramic views over the harbor, and Lower Town, home of medieval trades and crafts. In the Upper Town, you will see the impressive Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevski Cathedral, with its excellent acoustics, and women choir singing.
Tallinn is known for its miraculously preserved town fortifications. Out of the 46 original defensive towers, no less than 27 still stand in all their glory. The Toompea Castle was a seat of Landtag of German Knights, now housing the Parliament. On the highest tower Herman, you can see the Estonian flag fluttering in the wind. “Kiek in de Kok” or “Look into the Kitchen” tower stands not far from here with an exhibit on medieval wars.
We visit the City Hall Square, home to the 1402 city hall and an ancient pharmacy that dates back to 1422. On the side streets, we will see the Big Guild and House of the Blackheads, and Dominican Monastery. Next stop is St. Olaf Church, at 124 m high, once the highest in Europe, and the Katharina guilds that still exhibit workshops of different craftsmen: hatter, tailor, leather-dresser, glassmaker, potter, stain glass master, etc.
In the afternoon, visit to the Song Field, where the last Estonian independence movement evolved. We’ll be sure to visit 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 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.
Bird Watching Tours Lithuania Lithuania is a low-lying country with ample forests, lakes, fishponds and a short coastline adjoining the Baltic Sea. So naturally, it’s the site of some awe-inspiring bird-watching opportunities. On this tour, our main interest is the […]
Destination Management Company JeruLita operates individual private tours as well as small and medium size groups in cooperation with our partners. We will be glad to accommodate you in a private tour or will direct you to travel expert in your country who will register you to the groups we operate.