JEWISH HERITAGE TOUR: LITHUANIA & POLAND
9 days/ 8 nights
2020 dates: 26 June – 4 July; 28 August – 5 September
DAY 1 Friday VILNIUS Arrival to Vilnius. You will be met by driver and taken to the hotel. Accommodation. Welcome dinner in the restaurant. Overnight in 4* centrally located hotel.
DAY 2 Saturday VILNIUS Full day to explore Jewish Vilnius. Vilnius used to be a very important Jewish center in Europe. From the 14th century onwards Jews settled in the city, and by the 18th century Vilnius had become the world center of traditional Talmudic learning, eventually known as the Jerusalem of the North. Jewish genius Vilna Gaon was born here. City could be proud of Grand Synagogue, the biggest religious institution in Easter Europe, equal to Vatican in Catholic World. During the tour you will pass the streets of UNESCO listed Vilnius Old Town, visit Medieval Jewish quarter, Jewish ghettos, Choral synagogue, learn about the prototype of Doctor Dolittle - Zemach Shabad, one of the most famous French writters – Romain Gary. Overnight in Vilnius.
DAY 3 Sunday VILNIUS - ZIEZMARIAI - KAUNAS - VILNIUS Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure to Kaunas. En route stop at unique wooden synagogue of Ziezmariai. Afterwards continue to the Ninth Fort Museum, a former death site of thousands of Jewish nationals during the World War II. Arrival to Kaunas - second largest city of the country and the capital of Lithuania between the World Wars. During the sightseeing tour of Kaunas Old Town, you will pass by castle ruins, the Town Hall Square, Cathedral and Perkunas House. Visit former Kaunas Jewish ghetto, Kaunas Choral Synagogue, striking for its black and golden colors, as well as its Children's Memorial. Learn about great things Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara has done to save around 6000 jewish people when Holokaust started. Return to Vilnius for overnight.
DAY 4 Monday VILNIUS - PONAR - TRAKAI - BIALYSTOK Breakfast at the hotel. Morning visit to Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum, where you will get to know about Jewish life, art in Lithuania, Shoah and visit recently established Samuel Bakk museum. Later continue to ancient capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – Trakai. En route stop at Ponar Forest and Memorial to pay respect to the thousands of Jews, shot in the early days of the war – but (as proved by your visit) never forgotten. Learn about escape tunnel, which location was recently discovered. Later continue to Trakai, famous for the medieval insular castle and heritage of karaites ethnic minority. Get to know how it is related to Judaism. Continue to Bialystok. Evening city tour during which you visit Jewish district- Szulhof. Three surviving synagogue buildings, a few houses including Ludwik Zamenhoff family house , a few architectural details, statues and plaques as well as Jewish cemetery, mass grave of over 900 Jews murdered during ghetto liquidation and the building of former Jewish Hospital. Overnight in 4* centrally located hotel.
DAY 5 Tuesday BIALYSTOK - TYKOCIN - TREBLINKA - LUBLIN Breakfasts at the hotel. Morning departure to Tykocin. Tykocin became a typical Jewish shtetl by 1800, the population was 70% Jewish (during WWII almost all were exterminated). Today Tykocin looks the same as it did before WWII - you can still see Jewish wooden houses, one of the finest Synagogues in Poland built in 1642 (now a museum). Synagogue visit. Later continue to Treblinka Extermination camp. Museum of struggle and martyrdom. Former death camp to exterminate Polish and European Jews was established here in July 1942 (date of first transport of Jews from Warsaw’s ghetto ). During this period over 800 000 people were murdered there, which makes Treblinka second only to Auschwitz Birkenau in the number of victims. Nowadays it’s hard to believe that Treblinka was a killing center. Germans wanted to obliterate traces of their crime. Camps buildings were destroyed and the area was ploughed up and planted with lupine. In Treblinka everything is symbolic. This is a thought-provoking place where humanity reached one of its lowest points in history. During Treblinka Tour you will visit the small exhibition devoted to the extermination camp, Memorial recalling the Wailing Wall surrounded by symbolic grave stones, the Gravel Quarries, former penal labour camp (Treblinka I) and the Execution Site. Drive to Lublin for overnight.
DAY 6 Wednesday LUBLIN - MUJDANEK - ZAMOSC - LUBLIN Breakfast at the hotel. Morning tour to discover Jewish Oxford – Lublin. City once served as one of the most important centers of Jewish life: commerce, culture and scholarship in Europe. Pass by beautiful Old town, former Jewish quarter, oldest Jewish Cemetery in Poland – the Old Kirkut, building of the pre-war Academy of the Lublin Sages (Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin) and the Synagogue of the Chevra Nossim Funeral Society (Chewra Nosim). Later head to Majdanek. Once a Nazi-Germany concentration and extermination camp, today a museum and a memorial site. It is one of the best-preserved camps and it’s not as overrun with visitors as Auschwitz. While moving through the barracks and gas chambers, you will learn about the reality of the camp. Last but not least – Zamosc. Zamosc - the pearl of Renaissance where you will have the opportunity to see beautiful synagogue and building of the ritual baths (mikvah). What is interesting about the city is that until the 18th century Zamosc was the only religious community of Sephardic Jews in Poland. Later they probably became assimilated into the Ashkenazi community. Return to Lublin for overnight.
DAY 7 Thursday LIUBLIN - KAZIMIERS DOLNY - WARSAW Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure to Warsaw. En route stop at Kazimiers Dolny. It is is a charming town picturesquely situated on the right bank of the Vistula River in the hills, valleys and gorges. For years it fascinated with its unique atmosphere. Before the II World War Jews made up almost the half of the population of the city. According to the legend – the local synagogue was founded by King Casimir the Great as a gift for his beloved Esther. Stones for the construction were to come from the Western Wall in Jerusalem and parochets were sewed by Esther. Drive to Warsaw. Free afternoon. Overnight in Warsaw.
DAY 8 Friday WARSAW Breakfast at the hotel. Sightseeing tour including the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, the Ghetto monument, Umschlagplatz, Mila 18, remains of ghetto wall, Nozyk Synagogue, Jewish Historic Institute and museum, and the old Cemetery. Overnight in Warsaw.
DAY 9 Saturday WARSAW Breakfast at the hotel. Private transfer to the airport. Departure.
1425 EUR/ person
Price valid if minimum 2 people traveling
Single room supplement - 250 EUR
Return airport transfers
English speaking guide’s service
8 overnights in centrally located 4* hotels
Meals: daily breakfasts, welcome dinner
Entrance tickets: Tolerance center and Samuel Bakk museum, IX fort museum, Kaunas Choral Synagogue, Sugihara house, Trakai castle, Tykocin synagogue museum, Treblinka museum exhibition, the Old Cemetary in Lublin, Majdanek museum, Synagogue in Zamosc, Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, Nozyk Synagogue, Jewish Historic Institute
Vilnius city tax