WANDERLUST, ESTONIA, LATVIA, LITHUANIA, BELARUS AND POLAND

This wanderlust post is about countries in the Baltic Area. Firstly we have Tallin, Estonia. What appeals to me – its walled, cobblestoned Old Town, Kiek in de Kök, a 15th-century defensive tower. It’s Gothic Town Hall, built in the 13th century and with a 64m-high tower, sits in historic Tallinn’s main square. I just love cites filled with historic sites. And this sounds perfect for me !

Another one is Riga, Latvia. It was founded in 1201 as a base for crusading German knights, and for three centuries it thrived as one of the Baltic ports in the Hanseatic League. In turn, Riga then became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and then the Swedish and Russian empires. You can sense this history in the cobbled streets of Riga’s old town, which is bounded by the river Daugava and the city canal (previously a moat), and in its architecture. The only thing I need to avoid are the stag parties !

Vilnius, Lithuania has been on my radar for some time. Vilnius is known for its baroque architecture, seen especially in its medieval Old Town. But the buildings lining this district’s partially cobblestoned streets reflect diverse styles and eras, from the neoclassical Vilnius Cathedral to Gothic St. Anne’s Church. The 16th-century Gate of Dawn, containing a shrine with a sacred Virgin Mary icon, once guarded an entrance to the original city. Sounds perfect for me. But I really would like to see the Hill Of Crosse. The precise origin of the practice of leaving crosses on the hill is uncertain, but it is believed that the first crosses were placed on the former Jurgaičiai or Domantai hill fort after the 1831 Uprising. Over the generations, not only crosses and crucifixes, but statues of the Virgin Mary, carvings of Lithuanian patriots and thousands of tiny effigies and rosaries have been brought here by Catholic pilgrims. The exact number of crosses is unknown, but estimates put it over 100,000.

Minsk, Belarus is a modern city dominated by monumental Stalinist architecture. Razed to the ground in WWII, Minsk has precious few buildings remaining from the pre-war years, and there are relatively few traditional sights in the city, save a clutch of worthwhile museums.

Warsaw Poland, I am in too minds of visiting for a weekend, or using Warsaw as a base to explore other cities in the country. Warsaw’s widely varied architecture reflects the city’s long, turbulent history, from Gothic churches and neoclassical palaces to Soviet-era blocks and modern skyscrapers. The city’s Old Town was restored after heavy damage during WWII. This sounds again perfect for me !

I really hope to experience all these countries at least once. They are all perfect weekend trips for me or a long road trip – who knows !

 

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