Friday, 10 August 2018

The magical Baltics

I have to share the amazing Baltics with you. The Baltics consist of Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia. I had visited Latvia some years back with a friend & I absolutely loved it so when part of our trip included The Baltics, I was so keen to visit them. Their history is closely tied to their Russian / German borders ...

The Baltics with the capitals we visited

Our first stop was Lithuania, with a stay in the lovely capital Vilnius

Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, 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.

The lovely Hill of Crosses

I am always keen to try the local food, there is no point in not taking in the local cuisine & culture. A recommended local restaurant.

From outside, The church of St Peter & Paul was rather plain but what a sight inside. The walls were all whitewashed & the gold details really glistened against it.

We decided to spend an afternoon up the TV tower, taking in a 360 view of Vilnius - wow, it takes 45 minutes to do one revolution of the scene & it was just so relaxing to take in the full view from our lofty perch of 326.5 m (1,071 ft) above the surrounds.

 There are 65 churches in Vilnius. Like most medieval towns, Vilnius was developed around its Town Hall. Pilies Street, the main artery, links the Royal Palace with Town Hall. Other streets meander through the palaces of feudal lords and landlords, churches, shops and craftsmen's workrooms. Narrow, curved streets and intimate courtyards developed in the radial layout of medieval Vilnius.

The Old Town of Vilnius is the historical centre of Vilnius about 3.6 km2 (1.4 sq mi) in size. The most valuable historic and cultural sites are concentrated here. The buildings in the old town—there are nearly 1,500—were built over several centuries, creating a blend of many different architectural styles. Although Vilnius is known as a Baroque city, there are examples of Gothic (e.g. Church of St. Anne), Renaissance, and other styles. Their combination is also a gateway to the historic centre of the capital. Owing to its uniqueness, the Old Town of Vilnius was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.

The lovely island castle of Trakai 

Then onto the lovely Riga in Latvia again. 

I had visited this lovely city previously with a friend in Winter - how different it looked in the bright summer sunshine 

The stunning architecture once again wooed me, it is worthy of another visit even

From Riga, we headed to the last Baltic country of Tallinn in Estonia 

Tallinn, Estonia’s capital on the Baltic Sea, is the country’s cultural hub. It retains its walled, cobblestoned Old Town, home to cafes and shops, as well as Kiek in de Kök, a 15th-century defensive tower. Its Gothic Town Hall, built in the 13th century and with a 64m-high tower, sits in historic Tallinn’s main square. St. Nicholas Church is a 13th-century landmark exhibiting ecclesiastical art.

Wow, what a city, we were blown away by its stunning beauty. A compact city centre that just had so much to see & do. 

I came across an Antiik shop & just had to go in to see what it is like. I was surprised by a lot of military but it was fascinating & I bought a rather sweet pair of silver & rock crystal earrings ... 

When out & about, find a local place to eat to people watch & enjoy some local cuisine. We opted for an outdoors vegetarian one that looked really good as it afforded us a lovely spot to people watch too. The food was absolutely delicious & nutritious

How can you not fall in love with this city? The beautiful buildings, the cobbled streets, interesting alley ways, steps up from the lower town to the walls to enjoy magnificent views across the city - just stunning, we loved it!

What a beautiful city - the views over the rooftops from the top of the stairs, the stunning Russian orthodox church with its imposting spires, the lovely coloured buildings, the clock towers, horse drawn carriages, the arches ... it was all just so stunning. We really had to drag ourselves away from it.

The main square in Tallinn

The long walk from the lower town to the higher part

How lovely is this?

On 14 May 1343, a decisive battle was fought on the grounds of the now Jüriöö Park between the mail‑clad knights of the master of the Livonian order, Von Dreileben, and the Estonian troops. Although this battle took the lives of 3,000 Estonians.

During the years of the Soviet occupation, even most people in Tallinn did not know to link the War Hill by the St. Petersburg Road with the historical Jüriöö uprising.

In today’s Jüriöö Park there are memorials to celebrate and commemorate the most important stages in the history of our country. A sword struck halfway into the ground symbolizes the Jüriöö uprising, and there is also a memorial stone to the Fighters in the Estonian War of Independence, and a monument to All Estonians in World War II.

I hope you have loved the views of the Baltics as much as we enjoyed being there.  

Thank you for stopping by, for supporting my blog & being kind enough to leave a comment
Dee ~💕~

Sunday, 5 August 2018

The Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

Hi everyone,

I hope you have enjoyed the posts about my recent Baltic & Scandinavian visit.

Our guide suggested a stop at the Hill of Crosses on our route to Lithuania & I have to confess to having to use the internet to tell me about it.

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.[1] Over the generations, not only crosses and crucifixes, but statues of the Virgin Mary, carvings of Lithuanian patriots and thousands of tiny effigies and rosarieshave been brought here by Catholic pilgrims. The exact number of crosses is unknown, but estimates put it at about 55,000 in 1990 and 100,000 in 2006.

The site took on a special significance during the years 1944–1990, when Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. Continuing to travel to the hill and leave their tributes, Lithuanians used it to demonstrate their allegiance to their original identity, religion and heritage. It was a venue of peaceful resistance, although the Soviets worked hard to remove new crosses, and bulldozed the site at least three times (including attempts in 1963 and 1973).

It is hard to describe the scene at the Hill of Crosses 

It had a very spiritual feeling there & most of us resorted to whispers - it just felt right ...

So many crosses & crucifixes, all left in memory

Pope John Paul’s message ...

 Daughter & I at the Hill

Our crosses that we places - they have amber from that region so it felt right ...

It is hard to describe the scene around the Hill where there are thousands of crosses of all sizes & origins ...

Perhaps the peaceful protest nature of this Hill is why it has become a place of pilgrimage - it is a place of spiritualism & peace - a really good place to visit. 

Thank you for stopping by, for supporting my blog & being kind enough to leave a comment
Dee ~💕~

Friday, 3 August 2018

Remembering Warsaw, 74 years later

Hi everyone,

I shared some of my recent travels across Scandinavia & The Baltics but I just have to pay homage to Warsaw 74 years after the uprising in the Ghetto that snippets are known of worldwide.

Stacy & I visited Warsaw & we were both really taken by the City, one of our favourite places.

The UK tabloid The Daily Mail covered the remembrance events this week with this article 

Warsaw traffic stopped for a minute's remembrance as the sirens sounded at 5pm, the exact hour when the August 1 revolt started 74 years ago.

This beautiful corner of Warsaw saw so much sadness & heroism ...

Seventy years ago this week, German authorities liquidated the Warsaw ghetto, a 1.3-square mile area sealed off from the rest of the city where authorities forced all of the city’s Jewish residents to live. At its peak, more than 400,000 Jews were crammed into the ghetto, living in squalid conditions with insufficient food rations. No more than 20,000 of them survived the Holocaust. 

Returning to the Haunted Ground of the Warsaw Ghetto

The 1946 memorial tablet at the memorial ground

The first part of the monument, a small memorial tablet, was unveiled on April 16, 1946; the plaque was in a shape of a circle, with a palm leaf, a Hebrew letter "B" ב, and a Hebrew, Polish and Yiddish inscription: "For those who fell in an unprecedented and heroic struggle for the dignity and freedom of the Jewish people, for a free Poland, and for the liberation of mankind. Polish Jews”. It was also decided to build a larger monument in the future. reference 

Warsaw Ghetto Heroes monument

The memorial is located in the area which was formerly a part of the Warsaw Ghetto, at the spot where the first armed clash of the uprising took place. This is the western face of the memorial. 

The monument stands 11 meters (36 ft) tall. As Rapoport himself explained, the "wall" of the monument was designed to evoke not just the Ghetto walls, but also the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem. The great stones would thus have "framed the memory of events in Warsaw in the iconographic figure of Judaism's holiest site".[4]The western part of the monument shows a bronze group sculpture of insurgents - men, women and children

The Eastern side of the memorial ...

The residents of the Ghetto in Warsaw were sent to Treblinko & we all know the dark history of those camps.

When I visited Riga in Latvia, we visited the remains of the Great Choral Synagogue which was close to our hotel - read about it here . Visiting that part of Poland / Germany / The Baltics was to bear witness to the dark history of WW11 - I felt the weight of history very keenly there, you cannot escape the sadness, the cruelty, the history of it & I hope that everyone has the opportunity to walk in the path of history so that we can understand how easy it is to turn a blind eye or be too accepting of what we are told.

So amongst these beautiful cities, seek out their history & be humbled by it ...

Thank you for stopping by, for supporting my blog & being kind enough to leave a comment
Dee ~💕~