Paris of the North
The largest city of the Baltic states and capital of Latvia, Riga was once dubbed the 'Paris of the North' for its wonders. It continues to be an architectural gem replete with medieval houses, Gothic gabled roofs, Renaissance guild houses, wealthy Baroque homes, and Art Nouveau housing designed by Jewish architect Mikhail Eisenstein, featured as on par with the architecture of Vienna or Barcelona.
See the Peitav Shul - the only synagogue to survive the Nazi period that is still in use today - and hear about how the Torah scrolls were saved. Moving on to the Parliament Building, one can learn about the involvement of Jewish democrats in the creation of the first independent Latvia in 1920, and the Jewish Parliamentarians still in work today. The unique wooden housing in the Maskavas Forstate (suburb) was the historical Yiddish-speaking quarter and home to Poles, Russians and Old Believers.
Never a ghetto until the Nazi years, Maskavas Forstate became the main area of Jewish settlement in the 19th century. The first Jewish secular school is used today as a private Jewish school. Likewise the historical Jewish hospital Bikur Holim is still in use. The sites of the Great Choral Synagogue and old Jewish cemetery are now memorial sites for the atrocities of the Nazi reign.
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