Cultural Routes in the Baltic States
The Baltics have a busy history of occupations interspersed with golden eras, thanks to inquisitive and acquisitive Vikings, Russians, Germans, and Swedes, and the powerful Hanseatic League. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are a web of captivating cultural routes.
Possibly because of the small pieces of amber that wash ashore on its beaches or due to the traces of amber excavated all over Lithuania, it is known as the Amber Land. The Lithuanian Amber Road covers the entire coast from the border to border and introduces travelers to the amber traditions in Lithuania including historic moments, extraction, processing, and jewelry fabrication. In the Middle Ages the Hanseatic League arose to connect and further trade and relations between 160 towns from 10 countries; explore Lithuania’s Hanseatic legacy for a peep at a powerful era. The narrow gauge railway, tenderly called "the narrow" locally, is as an entertaining attraction as well as an object of railway history. It has a long and colorful history to accompany the pleasures of today’s pleasant ride and attractions along the way.
Even though Latvia has never been a mighty kingdom, it is studded with proud, ancient fortresses, grand palaces and enchanting manor houses. Surprisingly, hundreds of these witnesses to ancient times survive in Latvia, each of them with its own history, a special tale to tell, exciting architecture and uniqueness. In each Latvian parish and town there is at least a more or less sophisticated manor house – if not a solid mediaeval knights’ castle or ruins of one – which is an important piece of cultural and historical heritage. Nowadays the restored manors are a tasteful starting point for a journey around any Latvian region. At the castles and manors, you can fish in the old baronial ponds, take a truly aristocratic meal in a tavern, sample wines under the vaults of the ancient cellars, go on a horse-drawn carriage ride – or a sleigh ride during winter, in a blizzard.
Discover Estonia’s rich cultural heritage and history which are largely influenced by Estonia’s three main occupiers Sweden, Germany and Russia. On Soviet and military routes, see it all, from ugly Soviet architecture to impressive Orthodox churches and palaces and evidence of their military presence. Over one thousand manor houses were built in Estonia over the centuries, mostly by occupying German nobility. Often referred to as the Golden Age the Swedes brought some enlightenment with their occupation of Estonia and built universities, established Swedish-Estonian communities on the coast and islands and encouraged cultural and educational development.
Tour the Hanseatic league towns in Estonia where you can wander around the medieval castles, manors and churches and get a real sense of what it might have been like in the times of Hanseatic Botherhoods and Teutonic Knights.