All the reasons to tour the Baltic States
The Baltic States are the three countries that lie on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Since 2007 they have been members of the European Union and today they are wonderful tourist destinations. The Baltic countries offer beaches, forests, and lakes, alongside unique folklore and culture.
Although the Baltic States are easily accessible, for some reason many travelers have yet to discover them, and prefer to fly to more popular destinations in Europe. With all due respect to England, Spain, and France, here you have a golden opportunity to encounter a different, fascinating culture, to enjoy a new and unique place, and to collect unforgettable experiences. What’s so special about these three countries? Read on to discover some great reasons to travel to the Baltic countries.
The link with Judaism
In the Second World War more than 90% of the Jews living in the Baltic States were killed. To this day there is a considerable number of Jewish sites in all three countries, and they preserve the Jewish culture and draw Jews from around the world. It’s with good reason that the Baltic countries Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have become such popular destinations for family roots tours that people from all over the world undertake in order to try and understand, at least in part, how their parents and grandparents lived. Vilnius, for example, the capital of Lithuania and the largest ancient city in Eastern Europe, has an impressive Jewish heritage and is known as “Jerusalem of Lithuania”. You can devote an entire day of the trip to Vilnius for a purely Jewish tour to sites such as the only synagogue to survive the war, the Judenrat building, the place where the Vilna gaon’s house once stood, and the valley of the great massacre of the Jews of Lithuania. The old area of the city of Kovna (Kaunas) was also mostly populated by Jews and its streets are named after influential Lithuanian Jews. In the cities of Keidainiai, Plunge, and Siauliai there are also many Jewish heritage sites that are important to visit. In the previously Jewish quarter in Riga, the capital of Latvia, there is a monument in memory of the great synagogue of Riga, which was burned down by the Nazis. You can also visit the first Jewish school in the Russian Empire and the Riga ghetto, which is also the site of the extermination of Riga’s Jews and of the Salaspils work camp. In the capital city of Estonia, Tallinn, there’s evidence of present-day Judaism in the country in the form of the new synagogue that was built in 2007. This is a great opportunity to meet Jews who still live in Tallinn, and to hear from them all about life in today’s Estonia.
The combination of old and new
The fact that these are ancient countries that were passed from one ruler to the next over the years until they achieved their longed-for independence adds a special dimension to the tour and allows us to intersperse the ancient sites with modernization and innovation. Klaipeda is the only port city in Lithuania and it’s a perfect example of the juxtaposition of old and new, with a building style influenced by German and Scandinavian architecture, sailing ships, and ancient statues, alongside modern shops and restaurants in a vibrant atmosphere. In the Old City of Riga, the capital of Latvia, you can see the city walls and the ancient cathedral that was established in 1211, alongside the central market that is known as one of the biggest and most impressive in all of Europe and is located on Alberta Street, which is famous for its Art Nouveau style. In Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, the medieval period is most authentically preserved.
Kadriorg Park is the type of place that upgrades any trip abroad the second you arrive and its magnificent beauty is revealed. The large, well-kept park is in the Kadriorg quarter of Tallinn and it’s covered with sumptuous gardens, pleasant pathways, and a swan pond. It also houses a palace that was built in 1718, and the Kumu Art Museum. The ancient city of Trakai, in Lithuania, was the country’s first capital city. It is surrounded by lakes, making it a popular resort, and has a famous castle and other preserved relics of its multicultural past. Saaremaa Island, the largest of Estonia’s islands, is one of the most beautiful and magical places the Baltic region has to offer. It has windmills, spectacular beaches, and lush greenery.
You don’t have to get to these places on your own. Take a person or a number of people you’d like to share the experience with, and book a private guided tour by Authentico.
On the Baltic States Tour you’ll be able to visit all the most beautiful places in the region and learn about the fascinating history of these special Baltic countries.
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