LATVIA Boldand beau­ti­fulin the Baltics

Pas­tel-pretty Riga is rich in Jewish his­tory. Go, be­fore it gets as pop­u­lar as Prague, says AndyMos­sack

The Jewish Chronicle - - Travel -

YO U K N O W o f course, be­gins t h e s h a mmas of Peitav, Riga’s only sur­viv­ing syn­a­gogue, “that this shul did not get burned down by the Nazis only be­cause the church next door is so close. “So in­stead, they used it as a sta­ble for their horses.” My gaze fol­lowed his point­ing fin­ger to­wards the fab­u­lous gold-em­bossed Ark: “Luck­ily, we man­aged to hide the Ark and all the To­rah scrolls be­fore they got here.”

On that som­bre note be­gan an eye­open­ing pré­cis of Jewish life in the Lat­vian cap­i­tal of Riga, which has seen what was once a 90,000-plus com­mu­nity that was al­most wiped out in World War Two, re­vi­tal­is­ing it­self since Latvia’s in­de­pen­dence from the Soviet em­pire in 1991 .

While many east­ern bloc cap­i­tals have suc­cumbed to large-scale tourism — Prague and Bu­dapest, for in­stance — there are, thank­fully, still a num­ber which have not. The mis­con­cep­tion, how­ever, is that the lat­ter are run-down Com­mu­nist back­wa­ters with lim­ited tourist in­fra­struc­ture, lit­tle to eat but borscht and cab­bage, and ho­tels to which you have to take your own bath­plug.

In Riga, noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth; what you will find is a five-star life­style at out­stand­ing value for money, lav­ish ar­chi­tec­ture, food fit for kings and best of all, no le­gions of hen/stag par­ties — at least not yet.

Latvia has swapped be­tween Rus-

The Old Town of Riga and the bridge across the

to the mod­ern city

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