Riga Jewish Heritage Tour

Quick Details

Duration: 5 hours

This is a private tour that we can run every day. Please specify your preference for the start time and accommodation details.

We pick up all cruise ship passengers from the dock.

Private Tour

A Rich Introduction to the Jewish Past in Riga city.

The only working Jewish Synagogue Peitav Shul, Great Choral Synagogue, Riga’s ghetto & Holocaust museum, Bikernieki memorial to victims of the Nazi regime, Zanis Lipke Memorial Museum, Jews in Latvia Museum, Museum of Occupation of Latvia …these are the highlights which are telling us a story about the Jewish people living in Riga.

During this walk, you will learn about the events what happened before World War 2 and the Holocaust history of Latvia.

The first information about the arrival of Jewish traders in Riga dates back to 1536. However, a permanent Jewish settlement began to emerge in 1636, when, at present territory of Riga’s Central Market, was built a separate Jewish residence.

Back then, Jews were integrated into the most of aspects of life in Riga, and it might be surprising for someone, but Jews were sitting even on the Riga city council.

Jews left a big influence on Riga’s development, therefore we want to keep their story alive and share it all with you. After all, the beautiful city, you are visiting today, wouldn’t be there where it is now, if not thanks to the smart Jews commune which was giving all the possible skills in Riga’s development.

During our tour, we will visit Zanis Lipke Memorial. Not so many people have heard a story of the Zanis Lipke. Our tour guide will introduce you to the past, where Zanis and his wife Johanna, and around 25 other people, created an underground bunker to save Jews from Nazis. Zanis Lipke left deep roots in the Jewish history, because not only he helped to hide Jews in his underground bunker, but as well helped many Jews to escape ghettoes. The museum will be a big highlight from this tour because it’s design- half-light in the rooms, will give you a deeper understanding of the way Jews used to live there, in this half-light bunker.

Right after it, we will visit Great Choral Synagogue. Although unfortunately, Synagogue itself no longer exists, it’s still possible to see some memories what remain of it. On July 4, 1941, hundreds of Jewish refugees, from Latvia and Lithuania, were forced to the basement of Synagogue which was later intentionally burned to the ground. From this horrible past event, only ruins, a metal menorah, and memorial stone are left. 4th July, in Latvia, is still remembered, by a mark in a calendar, to honor and remember victims of the Holocaust. Since October 1990 Latvia has held an official commemoration event.

Also, you will have a chance to visit Riga’s Jewish Community Center, where Jews in Latvia Museum is located. Exactly here, you can find documented history of Jews contribution for today’s Riga.

Worth to mention that next, we will visit the Museum of Occupation of Latvia as well. The Holocaust is the largest mass crime committed against the civilian population in Latvia’s history- about 73,000 Latvian Jews and 16,000 foreign Jews were killed during the Nazi occupation. Only a bit over 500 Jews were able to survive the war in Latvia and they were able to start their lives again, to rebuild their communities. The Soviet Communist regime restricted the Jewish religious and cultural life in every possible way but didn’t prohibit it totally.
Museum of Occupation of Latvia is holding some important data to introduce you to this history in a more detailed way.

As next stopping point will be Peitav Shul- Synagogue which survived during the Nazi period and it is the only one working Jewish Synagogue in Latvia in nowadays. As well you will see Maskavas Forstate suburb which was the historical quarter for the Jews. Even now, you will be able to see little wooden houses, where Jews used to live.

We continue our Riga’s Jewish walking tour with a visit to Riga’s Ghetto & Holocaust museum. Exactly here you will find more than 70 000 people’s names who were killed during the Holocaust. In the museum, you can see also photographs exhibition dedicated to anti-Semitism propaganda.

Our tour will come to end at the Bikernieki Memorial to victims of the Nazi regime, its the largest site of the Nazi terror victims. Here you will find a symbolic altar placed in the center of the memorial with an inscription ‘’ O earth, cover not my blood and let my cry find no resting place’’. There you will find numerous granite stones placed all around territory, on which are engraved names of the different European cities- places of residence of Jews who were murdered in the Bikernieki forest.

The world must remember the Holocaust so that it never happens again.

Our Riga’s Jewish walking tour will be a perfect addition to your Riga sightseeing trip, so if you are interested in Jewish history and want to better understand insights on how Jews lived in Riga, feel free to join our tour.