Lithuania is a Northern European country and the geographical center of Europe. It might be a mere speck on the world map to an outsider, but it is much more to a Lithuanian – a country that was built over thousands of years. It is a place that intertwines the experiences of the ancestors, the battles that were fought, and the love that was shared. Lithuania is mostly about its people. The people who built the state and the cities, who engendered cultural enrichment and knowledge, and who searched for their true identity. Lithuanians are proud to have been brought up in a country with a rich historical past, and they try to accentuate their national heritage by doing their best on stages and in sports arenas, by being great painters and authors, by singing their hearts out to thousands of people, and by making their presence known with the tricolor flag.
With Latvia being located on the crossroads between Western and Eastern cultures, and having a history of tumultuous developments, it is clear that foreign nations have left significant footprints in Latvia. However, Latvians continue to observe the traditions of their ancestors – culture embedded in Latvian folklore that is best experienced during the Summer Solstice or “Jani” holiday, and the massive Song and Dance festivals, as well as through traditional crafts and handiwork, events organised by museums, and a lot of other activities. The cultural and historic heritage of Latvian architecture spans many centuries, from authentic rural homesteads to unique samples of wooden architecture, to luxurious palaces and manors, churches, and impressive Art Nouveau buildings.
Estonia connects the dots between Scandinavia, Central Europe and what lies to the east. The country‘s history extends across a long and winding road through time, telling the tales of many nations from Vikings to the kings, queens and medieval merchants of German, Swedish, Danish and Russian descent. Estonians are often referred to as the “singing nation” due to their Estonian Song and Dance Celebration which is the local signature event and intangible cultural heritage. Today’s Estonia is a thriving, forward-looking and digital society with a growing reputation for innovation where you can vote online and start your own business in less than half an hour. Many have done so already, including the founders of Skype and TransferWise.
Finland is a hidden gem tucked into the far up North. If you want to understand Finland and its people, getting familiar with sauna is a good starting point. Sauna forms a great part of the country’s heritage and culture. It is estimated that there are over two million saunas in Finland, and there’s even one inside parliament. Finland is also often called the Land of a Thousand Lakes with 188 000 large blue lakes covering the country. They, as well as nature in general, are a part of the Finnish identity. Nature is a great source of inspiration for Finns, and it can be seen in the Finnish desing. It is a true design nation. The very essence of Finnish design is in its ability to take the natural world and seamlessly weave it into everyday life. Some of the world’s most imitated and admired designers and architects come from Finland.
Traveling to Russia will be a perfect option for those who want to get memorable impressions and dive into the world of amazing secrets and adventures. These are everywhere: enigmatic territories, man-made fairytale constructions, old cities and villages with rich history, ancient traditions, museum exhibits with plenty of legends behind them. Upon their arrival to Russia, foreigners want to learn about local traditions. But there’s such a drastic difference between Russian regions that it seems they are separate countries. This country is steppes and deserts, forests and tundra, hills, rocks, lakes, taiga, rivers, plateaus, warm and cold seas. Mirror-like lakes, majestic lowland and mountain rivers, grand glaciers and snowfields, kilometers of mystic swamps, picturesque waterfalls, mind-blowing geysers — probably all types of bodies of water can be found on the Russian map. Such a diversity is hard to imagine from a distance.
For the last thousand years, Poland was the country where cultures from the east and west of Europe made their initial contact. The legacy of bygone centuries that includes monuments of architecture, historical mementos and masterpieces of art is perfectly combined with the wealth of Polish nature and its original landscapes. The Polish urban landscape is created by the giant cities and small historic towns of sentimental charm for which poems and songs have been written. Here one can also find preserved and restored castles and palaces which are now part of Poland’s historical heritage and homes to museums, venues for cultural events, restaurants or luxury hotels with spa facilities. One more important Poland‘s landmark is Roman-Catholic sanctuaries. Many Catholics make pilgrimages to shrines, cavalries and to miraculous springs which are said to have even healing properties.
Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered by Russia in the north and east, Ukraine in the south, Poland in the west and Lithuania and Latvia in the north. Although a landlocked state, the location has made Belarus an important trade and transport route between Europe and the CIS. With a complex history and rich architecture Belarus is a wonderful place to explore no matter what time of year. Many architectural treasures and attractions of Belarus have survived to tell the history of this fascinating country despite its turbulent history of war and destruction. With a diverse geography and a passion for natural history and wildlife Belarus would be an outdoor enthusiasts’ dream. It offers much more to travelers than one could ever fit into a single visit. The culture, outdoor activities, cuisine and historical sites will keep even the most experienced traveler busy.