Baltic Treasures: Latvia and Lithuania03 - 10 October, 2018

Latvia and Lithuania
Trip Dates:
03 - 10 October, 2018
Trip Price: £2240 including international flights
Single Room Supplement: £190
Trip Length: 8 days

It is rare in Europe today, to feel the refreshing ‘old world’ charm of two stunningly beautiful countries, Latvia and Lithuania with their strong central European values, traditions and cultures. Learn more of the countries’ recent development and begin to understand how, despite the ravages of the World Wars and years of Soviet oppression, their proud people are once again, building a distinct cultural heritage that was almost  destroyed in the hundred or so years prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union. 

Lithuania and Latvia are exciting examples of small countries each with a long history, ancient cultures and a very short period of independence dating from 1918,  abruptly stopped in 1939 and then only restarted extremely recently in 1991.  Both countries are very close but at the same time very different historically. 

During the 12th – 14th century, Lithuania was a Grand Duchy and one of the most powerful states in Eastern Europe, if not the most powerful one. The Grand Duchy then united with Poland in 1385, and then again, finally in 1569.  From then on, the country began to slowly lose its national character. Because of this, Lithuania combines fascinating elements in its culture - which became a Catholic culture - inherited from Poland. The party will visit some of its stunning Baroque churches, palaces and theatres of 17th and 18th century( some built by the great  Rococo architect Glauibitz  - undeservedly  unknown in Western Europe)  and the influence of Russian culture after the late 18th century  This mixture remains very homogenous and has produced a national culture with such glorious figures as the symbolist composer and painter Curlionis as well as the phenomenon of Lithuanian Theatre which became one of the most important in late Soviet times. 

Latvia is another story/different.  Latvia was dominated for a long time by German “crusaders”, by the German Order that brought Christianity to Latvia and because of high percentage of the German population Riga remained predominantly a German city until World War II.    Running parallel to the Germanic influences there was the Dukedom of Curland that became part of the Russian Empire since Peter the Great’s time and this drew Latvia into the Russian orbit and brought magnificent results such as the baroque palaces by famous architect Rastrelli.  During the early 20th century Riga was a highly developed city with  the strongest of musical traditions (Richard Wagner was  one of the chief Conductor its opera house) . At the same time, Riga produced unrivalled  Art Nouveau  architecture still to be admired today in the  beautifully preserved and completely superb part of the old city. 


Despite Soviet Occupation these countries managed to hold on to their local traditions, although the Soviet heritage brought about major problems – such as the  high number of newly- settled Russians amounting to half the population in some Latvian cities, including Riga. These countries are extremely proud of being different and are culturally alive with their own traditions  today which gives them the chance to survive in the new global world of the 21st century. 

Please note that Distant Horizons has sole responsibility for the operation of this tour. The participating University has no direct control over the operation of any tours.

Maximum Party Size: 20

Trip Leader: Professor Alexei Leporc

Professor Alexei Leporc is Curator of Western European Art at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. He is also Professor of 15th – 20th century West European art and architecture at St Petersburg Europe University and has previously held research and teaching positions at Institutes of Art History in Vienna, Munich and Berlin. Since 2008 he has accompanied numerous and very successful journeys for Distant Horizons in Russian and Eastern Europe.

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Baltic Treasures: Latvia and Lithuania Trip Comments:

‘A terrific art and architecture – focused trip. Professor Leporc and Elena were wonderful and shared not only their extensive professional knowledge and expertise but also shared personal vignettes that brought the history and culture alive.’
‘I was particularly impressed by the excellent leadership of Professor Leporc whose erudition was outstanding.’
‘We enjoyed ourselves very much – everything interesting and organised with seamless professionalism.’
‘We really enjoyed the whole trip. Very well organised, great attention to detail, much consideration.’