Category Archives: heritage travel

Ellis Island Introduces New Personalized Virtual Research Service to Help People Locate Arrival Records of Immigrant Ancestors

One of the passenger manifests in the Ellis Island database. A new service enables people to hire a researcher to find their immigrant ancestors among the 65 million arrival records of those who entered the United States through Ellis Island from 1820 to 1957.

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the nonprofit that collaborates with the National Park Service and raises funds for the restoration and preservation of these two national monuments, has introduced a new service in response to Ellis Island closing during the COVID-19 crisis. Each year thousands visit the American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island to explore their connections to the 17+ million immigrants who entered the U.S. through the Port of New York (1820-1957). Now, a newly created virtual experience replicates a visit to the Family History Center to help people along their genealogical journey.

For a $30 donation, the Foundation’s experts conduct a personalized search of the passenger database, home to about 65 million arrival records. With a successful search, donors receive two copies (a digital version and a hard copy on archival paper) of the Ship Manifest displaying the immigrant’s arrival. The Foundation is also producing a series of videos featuring research tips and interesting stories about Ellis Island’s immigration history.  

This team consists of the same research staff you would normally meet at the American Family Immigration History Center on Ellis Island. Your donation secures a 30-minute research session conducted by the team, with the funds supporting the Foundation’s mission and our commitment to keeping these 65 million records available for people all over the globe.

Successful searches will result in the Foundation sending you a free digital copy of the Ship Manifest displaying your ancestor’s arrival in America! In addition, when the Foundation’s office reopens, you will receive a hard copy, on archival paper, sent with free shipping.

Each research session will be 30 minutes in length. During this time, the research team will search the vast records for your ancestor (only one per session; you can purchase more than one session). Allow up to 10 business days to receive your search results. You may purchase more than one session. If you are interested in searching for multiple passengers, you can reserve additional sessions. Research sessions occur without live participation from donor. The research team will reach out to you if they have any additional questions. 

How it works

Visit the website shop to make your donation and secure your 30-minute research session.

You will receive a confirmation email from our research team. This email will include a document where you will provide as much information possible about the passenger you’d like us to research. The more information the team has from you, the more they can narrow the search.

After submitting your form, a research team member will be assigned to conduct your search.

If your search is successful, you will receive a free digital copy of the Ship Manifest (up to a $50 savings!)

If your search is unsuccessful, you will receive a 10% off promo code for the Ellis Island Shop.

To start, go to https://libertyellisfoundation.org/FindYourFamily

The Ellis Island Database, which is free for all, is an amazing gateway to history. There are close to 65 million records documenting the people who came to America through the Port of New York, from 1820 to 1957.

In the coming weeks, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation will unveil a series of videos on social media that will guide you along a genealogical journey, providing research tips and historical fun facts from our staff.

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Insight Vacations Discounts Travel to Ireland for Bookings by Dec. 18

Ireland is rich in culture with its wild landscapes and hearty culinary delights. From enjoying a pot of Irish stew, to exploring Ireland’s lush lands and regal castles, connect with your Gaelic Roots on Insight Vacations’ immersive experiences.

Ireland may be a small country but it is rich in culture with its wild landscapes and hearty culinary delights. From enjoying a pot of Irish stew, to exploring Ireland’s lush lands and regal castles, you’ll connect with your Gaelic Roots on Insight Vacations’ immersive experiences.

Lonely Planet named Galway as one of the top places to visit in the world in 2020—a cultural destination highlighted on Insight Vacations’ Ireland itineraries. The accolade has been given in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2020, describing the city as “arguably Ireland’s most engaging city”.

According to the European Capital of Culture, visitors to Galway can expect to experience the city and county’s best year yet, with a year-long program of extraordinary street spectacle, live and digital art as well as world-class music, theatre and dance.

 As the award-winning leader in premium escorted travel, Insight Vacations wants travelers to observe Galway with experiences that go beyond the ordinary. On Insight’s journeys to Ireland, guests are invited to meet and interact with locals and explore various establishments that offer authenticity as well as good old-fashioned fun.

Here are several Insight trips that immerse guests into the unique aspects of Galway:

 Country Roads of Ireland (12 Days):Travelers will get the chance to enjoy breathtaking views of the Clare Coast before a delightful drive through the strange, rocky landscape of the Burren to Galway Bay. They will spend a day at their leisure to relax and enjoy the city– perhaps joining an Optional Experience to the Aran Islands – a genuine highlight of the Wild Atlantic Way. With their cliffs and spectacular coastal views, the islands are a true Irish experience.

 Focus on Ireland (7 Days):Lead by Insights’ dedicated and knowledgeable Travel Director, guests will explore the infamous Lynch Memorial and the Church of St. Nicholas, where Christopher Columbus reputedly prayed before his discovery of America. They will also see the aged Spanish Arch and Eyre Square, dedicated to the late US President, John F. Kennedy.

Irish Elegance (8 Days): Guests will journey the City of the Tribes and visit Galway’s stunning cathedral. They can take in the beautiful scenery during their two-night stay at the Connemara Coast Hotel, which is spectacularly set on the shores of Galway Bay.

For a limited time on Insight Vacations journeys, guests can visit Galway with Insight Vacations’ amazing air offer: From now until Dec. 18, travelers can save up to $300 per couple on economy air on departures from Oct. 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020, and Sept. 1, 2020 to Nov. 15, 2020.

By choosing flights with American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia, travelers can save $150 off per person on Economy, $200 off per person on Premium Economy or $300 off per person on Business Class.

In addition to the these air offers, Insight Vacations is also offering a 10% savings to Europe with their popular Early Payment Discount for those who book and pay in full by December 18, 2019. This discount is combinable with Insights’ air offers.

For reservations, call Insight Vacations at 1-888-680-1241, or visit www.insightvacations.com

Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags
#INSIGHTVACATIONS and #INSIGHTMOMENTS

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Learn What the Brexit Fuss is About and Why Ireland is Two Countries with Vagabond Tours

Dunluce Castle, Antrim. Vagabond Adventure Tours creates opportunities for visitors to embrace Ireland by walking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking its lands and waters, imbibing history and culture along the way.

COUNTY WICKLOW, Ireland– With the European Union’s approval, Britain has received an extension to its exit (Brexit) until 31 January 2020. Rob Rankin, founder and owner Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland, is taking a wait-and-see-attitude concerning the UK Parliament’s vote to uphold or not the exit date that could change how the UK does business with Europe — and also on the Emerald Isle.
 
Maybe Brexit will be washed down the drain over a toast with its trading bloc partners since 1993. Maybe not. In the meantime Rankin’s team offers a list of ideas to visitors to Ireland who may want to know what the fuss is all about. In Dublin, the gateway city for Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland, historic attractions are two-a-penny. Guests are invited to discover for themselves the bullet holes on the General Post Office that betray its role at the heart of the 1916 Easter Rising. The National Museum is housed in a former barracks. Glasnevin Cemetery holds an array of independence heroes and an excellent museum.
 
Highly recommended in Belfast is an on-own Black Cab tour that offers a unique perspective on the capital of Northern Ireland. Guests listen to expert personal commentary on a guided tour through unionist and nationalist communities, learning about the late 20th century ‘The Troubles’ while viewing political murals and signing names to a peace wall.
 
Itineraries encompassing Derry include a guided walking tour around the historic walled city of Derry/Londonderry that showcases the Guild Hall and a siege cannon while shedding light on the nationalist neighborhood where the Northern Irish Civil Rights movement was born in the late 1960s, leading to a virtual 30-year war between Catholics and Protestants.
 
And other itineraries including Cork, also known as the Rebel County, share stories of the action here during the early 1920s War of Independence and ensuing Civil War. Michael Collins was ambushed and assassinated at Béal na Bláth. Picturesque Cobh was a center of resistance in 1916.
 
“It’s a no-brainer to say that this ours is a complicated history,” adds Rankin. Vagabond Tours of Ireland assists its guests in scratching the surface of the history of why there are two separate Irelands. This history goes back well into the 16th century when the island was like a piece of fabric being stretched between Gaelic-speaking Catholics and the English who spoke English and who were eventually predominantly Protestant. 
 
“Today Brexit has become our own three-legged milking stool,” Rankin explains. The three legs are:

European Union (EU) – since 1993 a commerce-driven alliance of European nations, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

United Kingdom (UK) – inclusive of Great Britain (Scotland, Wales, England) and Northern Ireland (six counties that are culturally British out of an overall 32 counties on the island). This bloc known as the UK has voted to disengage from the EU because of a perception that the UK doesn’t enjoy full sovereignty in the EU.  

Republic of Ireland – represents 26 of 32 counties on the Emerald Isle, is not part of the UK bloc and enjoys 80% to 90% support for continuing its own EU membership. The Republic of Ireland fought and won independence from the UK from 1916 to 1921. The six counties in the northern part of Ireland demanded that their union with the UK and the British crown remain intact, resulting in Northern Ireland. When the UK voted to remove itself (Brexit) from the EU, the independent country Republic of Ireland determined to remain within the EU. 

Customs and tariff protocols between the Republic of Ireland (EU) and Northern Ireland (UK) have been operational and peaceful for nearly two decades. Residents and visitors to Ireland and the UK enjoy visa-free travel to each other’s countries. All sides have agreed that this situation will continue post-Brexit.
 
What is of concern, adds Rankin, is that without a so-called backstop built into the negotiations, the now a ‘soft’ border between the Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland could once again become a ‘hard’ border that in turn could pick at century-old scars. The relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland has steadily improved since the landmark peace accord of 1998. What’s known as the Good Friday Agreement ended paramilitary activity and customs infrastructure at north/south border crossing points. The British army was removed from Northern Ireland.
 
No matter Brexit’s outcome – or not – Rankin and his team are high on 2020 bookings, already strong.
 
“We envisage no major disruption. The bright side is, we hope, more opportunity to explain Irish history,” he says.
 
Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland offers two styles of culturally immersive travel. Vagabond Adventure Tours (the division hosting the Epic Irish Food Adventure Tour) are for active travelers who want to mix up hiking, kayaking and biking and other outdoor adventures with history, culture, dining and shopping. Driftwood Journeys of Discovery follow similar itineraries but at an intimate and in-depth looking and lingering pace, sans the physical exertion.
 
On all of its tours, Vagabond staff curate locally owned accommodations, pubs and restaurants that help serve their goal of authenticity. In the end the mission is to have guests “love Ireland as much as we do.” Transport is in a custom Mercedes ‘Vagatron’ or special mini-buses which allow access beyond where regular tour buses go.
 
For details on all of Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland itineraries, availability and for 2019 reservations, visit https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/. Call toll free (from the US) 1.833-230-0288; in Ireland 00353 (0) 1 5634358; or email: info@vagabond.ie.
 
Since 2002 Vagabond Adventure Tours has been creating opportunities for visitors to embrace Ireland by walking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking its lands and waters, imbibing history and culture along the way. In 2013 the company was honored by National Geographic Traveler with a Top 50 Tour of a Lifetime distinction. In 2015 and 2017 Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland was named the “Best Adventure Experience” at the Irish Tourism Awards. In 2017, Vagabond became Ireland’s first tour operator to achieve Ecotourism Gold Level Certification. In 2018, Vagabond Tours won The Green Tourism & Entertainment category in Ireland’s most prestigious Green (business) Awards. And in February 2019, the company won two top Irish Tourism Industry Awards for the Best Ireland Ancient East Tourism Experience and Best Environmental Tourism Innovation.

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Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust Extends Groundbreaking Auschwitz Exhibition in Response to High Demand

Artifacts and images from dozens of institutions and private collections from around the world are on view at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust’s groundbreaking exhibit, Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away, including Mauthausen Memorial, Mauthausen, Austria, where the crematorium is no longer open to the public. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

– Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. exhibition will remain on view at the NYC museum through August 30, 2020, an eight-month extension from its originally scheduled close date –

– Exhibition features more than 700 objects and 400 photographs on display in North America for the first time, including a shofar that was secretly blown at Auschwitz and a collection of 10 original artifacts from the Anne Frank House –

New York, NY – Due to an overwhelming response, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust today announced that Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.the most comprehensive Holocaust exhibition about Auschwitz ever presented in North America, will be extended until August 30, 2020. Produced by the international exhibition firm Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, the groundbreaking exhibition is the largest ever on Auschwitz with more than 700 original objects and 400 photographs.

The extension responds to the record number of visitors the exhibition drew to the Museum since opening in May. To date, more than 106,000 people from across the country and globe have come to the Museum to see the exhibition, including more than 36,000 students to date and approximately 12,000 students scheduled to visit before the end of 2019.

“The number of adults and school visitors drawn to Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. has been incredible. This exhibition greets its visitors with a clear warning to be vigilant – to not allow this history to repeat and to never presume that it won’t,” notes Bruce C. Ratner, Chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “In recent years and recent months even, we have seen a surge in antisemitic rhetoric, hate crimes, and a weaponized nationalism both here in the United States and abroad. We are extending this exhibition at our Museum because it offers clear, moral lessons that resonate powerfully today and from which visitors want to learn.”

“It has been a great honor to preside over the Museum as it presents this astounding exhibition and to witness it move so many of our visitors as deeply as it has moved me,” says Jack Kliger, the Museum’s President & CEO. “Most remarkable, this exhibition is dynamic. Already large in scope, it continues to acquire new artifacts over the course of its life, such as the shofar clandestinely used in Auschwitz that we unveiled last month ahead of Rosh Hashanah.”

“We have been profoundly overwhelmed by the phenomenal visitor response in New York – not only by the numbers themselves, but especially by the time visitors spend in the exhibition – on average two hours – and the care, attention and respect they show for this story. Deciding to visit this exhibition is a courageous step. It means confronting oneself with a traumatic, complex and challenging past. And more importantly, it helps us understand more critically our own present,” says Luis Ferreiro, Director of Musealia and the exhibition project.

“I don’t think that there is a more important exhibition presented in New York at the moment. This one about Auschwitz explores the essence of mankind, analyzes the limits of what is human, and asks important questions about our contemporary responsibility. I am glad people will be able to see it there longer,” says Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. traces the development of Nazi ideology and tells the transformation of Auschwitz from an ordinary Polish town known as Oświęcim to the largest German Nazi concentration camp and the most significant site of the Holocaust —at which ca. 1 million Jews, and tens of thousands of others, were murdered. Victims included Polish political prisoners, Sinti and Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and those the Nazis deemed “homosexual,” “disabled,” “criminal,” “inferior,” or adversarial in countless other ways. The exhibition tells not only the story of their persecution and murder, but also the myriad ways ordinary people responded to the unfolding genocide, including inspiring stories of resistance, resilience, courage, and altruism. In addition, the exhibition contains artifacts that depict the world of the perpetrators—SS men who created and operated the largest of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camps.

With more than 700 objects and 400 photographs, mainly from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, the New York presentation of the exhibition allows visitors to experience artifacts from more than 20 international museums and institutions on view for the first time in North America, including hundreds of personal items—such as suitcases, eyeglasses, and shoes—that belonged to survivors and victims of Auschwitz. Other artifacts include: concrete posts that were part of the fence of the Auschwitz camp; part of an original barrack for prisoners from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp; a desk and other possessions of the first and the longest-serving Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss; a gas mask used by the SS; Picasso’s Lithograph of Prisoner; and an original German-made Model 2 freight train car of the type used for the deportation of Jews to the ghettos and extermination camps in occupied Poland. 

The exhibition also features 10 artifacts on loan from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, which include the spilled, dried beans Anne wrote about in her diary and that were later discovered lodged between the cracks of stairs in the home where she hid from the German Nazis. The beans have never been displayed anywhere before. Most recently, the Museum announced the exhibition’s incorporation of a shofar (a ram’s horn that is made into a special wind instrument used during Jewish High Holiday services) that was hidden and clandestinely blown in the Auschwitz. The shofar was newly added to the exhibition on the cusp of the High Holy days and temporarily transported to two New York City synagogues to be blown on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 

The Museum of Jewish Heritage has incorporated into the exhibition nearly 100 rare artifacts from its collection that relay the experience of survivors and liberators who found refuge in the greater New York area. These artifacts include: Alfred Kantor’s sketchbook and portfolio that contain over 150 original paintings and drawings from Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Schwarzheide; the trumpet that musician Louis Bannet (acclaimed as “the Dutch Louis Armstrong”) credits for saving his life while he was imprisoned in Auschwitz; visas issued by Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania often referred to as “Japan’s Oskar Schindler”; prisoner registration forms and identification cards; personal correspondence; tickets for passage on the St. Louis; and a rescued Torah scroll from the Bornplatz Synagogue in Hamburg. 

Also on display from the Museum of Jewish Heritage collection is Heinrich Himmler’s SS helmet and his annotated copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, as well as an anti-Jewish proclamation issued in 1551 by Ferdinand I that was given to Hermann Göring by German security chief Reinhard Heydrich on the occasion of Göring’s birthday. The proclamation required Jews to identify themselves with a “yellow ring” on their clothes. Heydrich noted that, 400 years later, the Nazis were completing Ferdinand’s work. These artifacts stand as evidence of a chapter of history that must never be forgotten.

Alongside Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away., the Museum offers a series of talks, screenings, performances, and commemorative events that further explore Jewish history and life before, during, and after the Holocaust. The last week of October, artist and Holocaust survivor William Bernheim will discuss his history and artistic response, and author Marty Brounstein will present a program abouta Christian couple in the Netherlands who saved the lives of over two dozen Jews. November programming includes commemorative events for the 81stanniversary of Kristallnacht, including “Stories Survive: An Eyewitness Account of Kristallnacht” with Ruth Zimbler. In December, The Sorceress will be performed by the resident National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. To learn more about these and other activities, visit the Museum’s Events page here: https://mjhnyc.org/current-events/

Following the New York presentation, the exhibition is intended to tour other cities around the world. Future destinations will be announced by Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Curated by an international team of experts led by historian Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. first opened in New York City on May 8, 2019 after its successful run at Madrid’s Arte Canal Exhibition Centre, where it was extended two times, drew more than 600,000 visitors, and was one of the most visited exhibitions in Europe last year. The exhibition explores the dual identity of the camp as a physical location—the largest documented mass murder site in human history—and as a symbol of the borderless manifestation of hatred and human barbarity.

Museum of Jewish Heritage Board Vice Chairman George Klein visited the exhibition in Spain and recommended to his Board that they bring it to Lower Manhattan.The exhibition features artifacts and materials on loan from more than 20 institutions and private collections around the world. In addition to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, participating institutions include Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim, the Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen in Oranienburg, and the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide in London. 

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far awaywas conceived of by Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and curated by an international panel of experts, including world-renowned scholars Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Dr. Michael Berenbaum, and Paul Salmons, in an unprecedented collaboration with historians and curators at the Research Center at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, led by Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz.

“When we, the Musealia curatorial team set out to design the Auschwitz exhibition, we realized that we faced a difficult problem. In Auschwitz over a million people, mostly Jews, were murdered shortly after their arrival or suffered and died in unimaginable circumstances. How does one create an exhibition about such a dark chapter in human history that, in our understanding, is not long ago and happened in a place not far away? How does one make the public, that has so many opportunities to explore a great city like New York, decide that it would want to see such an exhibition? Our tools were straightforward: a narrative told through more than 700 original artifacts, 400 original images, 100 stories, made present by means of filmed testimonies and quotes – all revealing individual experiences of a history we must learn from,” says Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Chief Curator.

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. is presented in the symbolic, hexagonally-shaped core building at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. This 18,000-square-foot exhibition introduces artifacts and Holocaust survivor testimony through 20 thematic galleries. 

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is made possible with lead support by Bruce C. Ratner, George and Adele Klein Family Foundation, Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert, and Larry and Klara Silverstein & Family. The exhibition is presented in part with major support by The David Berg Foundation, Patti Askwith Kenner, The Oster Family Foundation, and The Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust. The New York premiere is made possible in part by Simon & Stefany Bergson with additional support from The Knapp Family Foundation.

GENERAL INFORMATION

TICKETS

Entry is by timed ticket available at Auschwitz.nyc. Audio guide (available in 8 languages) is included with admission.

$25 Flexible Entry—entry any time on a specific day

$16 Adults

$12 Seniors and People with Disabilities

$10 Students and Veterans

$8 Museum Members

FREE for Holocaust survivors, active members of the military and first responders, and students and teachers through grade 12 in schools located in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut (with valid school-issued ID). 

For group visits, contact the Museum at 646.437.4304 or groupvisits@mjhnyc.org. See Auschwitz.nyc for more information.

HOURS AS OF NOVEMBER 1, 2019:

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday & Thursday          10 AM to 6 PM            
Wednesday                                                     10 AM to 9 PM

Friday                                                              10 AM to 3 PM            

Last admission to Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far awayis 2 hours before closing time. Last entrance to the rest of the Museum is 30 minutes prior to closing time.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is New York’s contribution to the global responsibility to never forget. The Museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating diverse visitors about Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust. The third largest Holocaust museum in the world and the second largest in North America, the Museum of Jewish Heritage anchors the southernmost tip of Manhattan, completing the cultural and educational landscape it shares with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Since 1997, the Museum of Jewish Heritage has welcomed more than 2.5 million visitors; it maintains a collection of more than 40,000 artifacts, photographs, documentary films, and survivor testimonies and contains classrooms, a 375-seat theater (Edmond J. Safra Hall), special exhibition galleries, a resource center for educators, and a memorial art installation, Garden of Stones, designed by internationally acclaimed sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. 

The Museum receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts. 

The Museum is closed on Saturdays, Jewish holidays, and Thanksgiving. 

Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, 36 Battery Place, New York City, 646-437-4202, mjhnyc.org.

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Sacred Places: Spiritual Sites That Can Be Visited Via Cruise Ship

Praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of more than 100 holy sites that can be visited on a cruise.

There are more than a hundred cruise itineraries that provide access to sacred places – worldwide sites of healing, guidance, and divine inspiration. The significance of these hallowed sites cannot be expressed in words or pictures – to understand their impact, the faithful must visit them in person, to experience healing, guidance or divine inspiration.

While many of the world’s most sacred sites have historically been inaccessible to all but the hardiest of travelers – those who were able to make arduous overland journeys – the travel experts at CruiseCompete say travelers will find that today’s cruise itineraries make many of these locations surprisingly easy to visit.

Here is a partial list:

Asia/Far East
Beijing, China, Hanging Monastery
Beppu, Japan, Beppu Onsen
Delhi, India, Taj Mahal
Delhi, India, Rishikesh
Hiroshima, Japan, Peace Memorial Park
Kochi, Kanyakumari, India, 3 oceans unite, Ghandi Memorial
Mumbai, India, Ajanta and Ellora caves
Qingdao, Tai Shan, China, Tai Shan Dai Mai Complex
Shanghai, South Korea, Lotus Lantern Festival
Shimizu, Japan, Mt Fuji
Taipai, China/Taiwan, Wenwu Temple
Yangon, Myanman, Bagan

Caribbean
Bridgetown, Trinidad and Tobago, Diwali

Europe
Bordeax, France, Lourdes
Bucharest, Romania, Hurezi Monastery
Cologne, Germany, Aachen Cathedral
Cologne, Germany, Shrine of the Three Kings
Dublin, Ireland, Newgrange
Holyhead, Holywell, Wales, St Winefride’s Well
Lisbon, Portugal, Our Lady of Fatima
Madrid, Spain, Mezquita
Beaches of Normandy, France, Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Paris, France, Chartres Cathedral
Paris, France, Mont-St.-Michael

Mediterranean
Cairo, Sinai peninsula, Mt Sinai/St. Catherine’s Monastery
Haifa, Nazareth / Galilee (Haifa), Israel, Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias)
Istanbul, Turkey, Blue Mosque
Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Cave of the Nativity
Jerusalem, Israel, Western Wall
Jerusalem, Israel, Holy Sepulchre Church
Jerusalem, Israel, Yad Veshem
Tripoli, Lebanon, Cedars of God Lebanon
Livorno, Italy, Chapel of the Stigmata
Luxor, Egypt, Valley of the Kings
Rhodes, Greece, The Cave of the Apocalypse
Rome, Italy, Abbazia Di San Galgano
Rome, Italy, St. Peter’s Basilica

Middle East
Aqaba, Jordan, Petra

North America
Baltimore, Virginia, Arlington National Cemetery
Huatulpo, Mexico, Day of the Dead
New York, New York, Ground Zero
Baltimore, Washington DC, Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial

South America
Copacabana, South America, Islands of the Sun and Moon
Easter Island, South Pacific, Easter Island
Lima, Peru, Mcchu Picchu/ Sacred Valley of the Inca

For more information, visit CruiseCompete’s full listing of sacred places that are accessible via cruise ship.

For more information or assistance planning a future cruise or a cruisetour, visit CruiseCompete and try the Virtual Cruise Advisor.

Find CruiseCompete’s “Sea Tales 2019 Family Cruise Travel Planner” at www.cruisecompete.com/resources.php. To see consumer feedback click here.

CruiseCompete has been the premier online cruise marketplace since 2003 (see media praises).

Consumers come to CruiseCompete to research and book cruise vacations. More than 1.5 million users have generated close to 4 million requests from consumers, and agents have delivered almost 17 million quotes since 2003. They can compare offers from trusted travel agents, see consumer reviews of agents and agencies responding, then contact travel agents directly for more information and to book cruises. CruiseCompete is a member of the Family Travel Association, a leading authority and resource for family travel information and is home to the Sea Tales 2018 Family Cruise Travel Planner at Travel Resources.

CruiseCompete CruiseTrends™ offers monthly stats for an inside look at consumer trends and what consumers want in cruise vacations.

CruiseCompete takes top honors in Travel + Leisure’s “Top 60 Best Apps and Websites for Travelers” with an honorable mention. The Wall Street Journal praised CruiseCompete as “Best Cruise Travel Site,” The New York Times says, “… independent travel agents compete to offer you the best deal,” and follows similar praise from Travel + Leisure, Kiplinger and The Washington Post. The Street says, “Score luxury cruises at bargain prices.”

For more information, visit https://www.cruisecompete.com/ or https://www.cruisecompete.com/group_cruises/

CruiseCompete is an Iowa limited liability company, is not a travel agency or owned by a travel agency.

 

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Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center Has Grand Opening

The much-anticipated Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, an experiential museum that reveals authentic stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls, has just opened, May 4. John Morrison and James Patterson © E.B. Lewis

Niagara Falls, NY – The much-anticipated Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, an experiential museum that reveals authentic stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls, has just opened, May 4. A project of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission in cooperation with the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, a program of the National Park Service, the Heritage Center inspires visitors to recognize modern injustices that stem from slavery and to take action toward an equitable society. It is located in the former 1863 U.S. Custom House attached to the new Niagara Falls Amtrak Station.

“As the first new cultural attraction in the City of Niagara Falls in over 35 years, opening the Underground Railroad Heritage Center is an incredibly significant event, both to the people of Niagara Falls, and throughout the world,” said Bill Bradberry, President and Chair, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission

The Heritage Center’s permanent exhibition, One More River to Cross, features the rich stories of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls, the crucial role played by its location and geography, and the actions of its residents – particularly its African American residents. The Heritage Center’s immersive exhibits and cutting-edge interpretation affirmatively align with the principles of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, whose mission is to connect the past to modern social justice issues – “to turn memory to action.”

Through painstaking research, the exhibition presents engaging digital media, graphics, scenic built environments and facilitated dialogic programming as part of the visitor experience. Scenic exhibit components include a recreation of the Cataract House – a premier international hotel that employed an entirely African American wait staff, who helped uncounted numbers of freedom seekers to freedom in Canada, just across the Niagara River. Also included is a recreation of the International Suspension Bridge, built in 1848, and rebuilt in 1855 to incorporate rail traffic, where Harriet Tubman and other freedom seekers crossed the imaginary line from slavery to freedom. Stories are brought to life with powerful images by award winning illustrator and fine artist E.B. Lewis and voice-overs by Emmy Award winning actor Keith David.

“From the very beginning, the objective for the Heritage Center was to create an immersive experience that brings to life the stories of ordinary individuals who fought for freedom,” said Ally Spongr, Director and Curator, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.

The new Heritage Center focuses on stories of courageous self-emancipation by freedom seekers. Throughout the exhibition visitors experience these stories and hear from individuals past and present with the hope that these stories and connections will allow for deeper engagement, consideration of new or different perspectives, and motivation to action.

“The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center will not only shine a light on the significant role Niagara played at this critical time in our nation’s history but the stories of the brave men and women whose contributions to this movement we must never forget. I want to commend the Heritage Commission for their painstaking efforts to bring this educational and interactive experience to life for generations to come,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.

This project is led by the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission, chaired by Bill Bradberry, directed and curated by Ally Spongr, and based on research by lead historian Dr. Judith Wellman. The Heritage Center’s design-build teams include Studio Tectonic of Boulder, Colorado, Richard Lewis Media Group of Boston, Massachusetts, and Universal Services Associates, Inc., of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission, 825 Depot Avenue W., Niagara Falls, NY 14305, niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org.

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Hike, Horseback Ride, Pub & Fiddle Crawl Thru Castles, Celtic Ruins, Manors on Vagabond Irish Adventure

Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland’s 12-day “Giant Irish Adventure” circumnavigates the island nation.

COUNTY WICKLOW, Ireland–Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland’s 12-day “Giant Irish Adventure” circumnavigates the island nation. Beginning in Dublin, guests poke around impregnable fortresses, ring forts, beehive huts, manor houses and castles. The common element to the sites is the stone – indestructible and a metaphor for the Irish spirit

Nature’s stone edifices also play a role in the Giant Irish Adventure that includes Ireland’s highest mountain range called the Macgillycuddy Reeks or black stacks of glacial-carved sandstone; the Cliffs of Moher of shale and limestone overlooking the Atlantic; and the Giant’s Causeway, a natural sculpture playground of basalt columns created by volcanic activities in the Atlantic Ocean a millennia ago.

Per person double rate of €2,769 includes the services of a highly trained professional Vagabond tour guide for 12 full days; 11 nights accommodation (4 nights B&B, 6 nights hotel, 1 night in a castle); 11 full Irish breakfasts; guided walks; entrance to most of the historical and archaeological sites and to some natural sites; demonstrations of local craftsmen at work; and all relevant fees and taxes. See: https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/tour/irish-tours-12-day-giant-irish-adventure/.

This tour caters to active travelers who want time aplenty to explore where they are by foot. Hikes of up to two hours are daily highlights. Some activities such as horseback riding, sea kayaking and surfing and biking in Killarney National Park are optional. The tour is flexible and guests can arrange to opt out of one activity and into another.

Among the historic stone structures guests may visit Dunluce Castle is a cliff-edge ruin from the 13th century, with views over the Irish Sea to Scotland; Stone Ring Fort (1700 BC) constructed by Bronze Age farmers as defenses against cattle thieves with such precision that no mortar was required; Glenveigh Castle and Gardens. a Victorian (1867) edifice in what is now Glenveagh National Park; the original owner drove poor tenants from the land so he could transform it into an aristocrats’ hunting playground; Donegal Castle was built in the 15th century on the site of a one-time Viking fortress; Abbeyglen Castle Hotel where the mountains of Connemara meet the sea was constructed in 1832 (overnight here); Beehive huts (Clochán) date to 5th century monastic settlements (think Luke Skywalker’s retreat in Star Wars); Blarney Castle dates to medieval times; kissing the Blarney Stone is said to bestow the gift of eloquence; Rock of Cashel or St. Patrick’s Rock from the 12th century boasts a Romanesque chapel harboring ancient frescoes.

On the daily walks and hikes, guests explore: Slieve Gullion Mountain, the highest point in Ireland which harbors Neolithic passage tombs; Cliffside Trail including 132 steps to Giants Causeway; Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Europe; Croagh Patrick, the famous holy mountain where every step taken means a sin forgiven; Cliffs of Moher, 700-foot sea cliffs; Kilkee Cliff Walk overlooking the Atlantic; Glacial valley of Lough Annascaul.

Throughout the journey, the Vagabond arranges stops at locally owned accommodations, pubs and restaurants Transport is in a 4×4 Land Rover or Mercedes ‘Vagatron’ that allows intimate access beyond where regular tour buses go.
(see https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/tour/irish-tours-12-day-giant-irish-adventure/.)

For details on Vagabond Small-Group Tours of Ireland itineraries, visit https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/, 833-230-0288, or email: info@vagabond.ie or info@driftwood.ie.

 

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Day of the Dead in Lithuania: Where Pagan and Christian Traditions Meet in Enchanting Cemetery Settings

During Vėlinės in Lithuania, ancient cemeteries are afloat with flowers and sinking in the sea of candles. People come to remember dead heroes and prominent poets of the nation, but they also don’t forget the unknown graves of dead people whose relatives might not be around anymore to light a candle.

Looking for a unique experience this Halloween? Head to Lithuania, where Day of the Dead is celebrated by the whole nation, and the country offers unique glimpses into the world of crypts, crosses and ancient cemeteries.

Take one of the special tours – visit old cemeteries of Vilnius, adrift in flowers and candles; take a tour of the underground crypts of Vilnius Cathedral; head to the old pagan Lithuanian capital, Kernave, and see pilkapiai – ancient cemeteries with no crosses; take excursions to the seaside and southern Lithuania, visit national parks and local cemeteries with UNESCO-recognized cross-making traditions; head to the extraordinary Hill of Crosses  – a site of pilgrimage in northern Lithuania with over 200,000 of crosses of all shapes and sizes. The first crosses were put on the hill by the relatives of the dead rebels of 1831 revolt against the Russian tsar.

On the first day of November, Lithuanian offices, shops and schools close, roads become packed with cars, families reunite, and everyone heads to one special place – the cemetery.

Lithuanian cemeteries are already different from what you’d find in other countries – they rather resemble a botanical park, sinking in the sea of trees, adorned with flowers and beautiful tombstones. On November 1st, Lithuanians celebrate Vėlinės (vėlė means “soul” and ilgėtis means “to long”) – the Day of the Dead, which is not as joyful an occasion as El Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico, but rather the day of remembrance and reunion that bears deep traditions. Cemeteries become the place of family gatherings, where young and old arrange flowers and light candles. When the sun sets, the cemeteries become enchanting, alive and mysterious from the sea of flickering candlelights and the aroma of thousands of fresh flowers.

When golden trees and low-hanging sun create special autumn atmosphere, it’s a perfect time to visit Lithuania and to get enchanted by the scenery and traditions, to explore some off-the-beaten track activities, and to see some old Lithuanian customs put into action.

According to the old Lithuanian tradition, this is the time to remember the ancestors and to re-think one’s place in the world. When Lithuania finally accepted Christianity (last country to be “baptized” in Europe), pagan and Christian traditions blended into one over time, giving special significance and depth to the Lithuanian Day of the Dead.

The Old Cemeteries of Vilnius 

The Old Vilnius Cemeteries belong in the list of European historical cemetery heritage.

There are three main cemeteries in Vilnius city center: the first one, Rasų Cemetery, was founded in 1796, and is the eternal home to famous Lithuanian poets, artists and politicians, such as the activist and folklorist Jonas Basanavicius, and composer and painter M.K. Ciurlionis. This was the first cemetery that was founded outside of the city, on a hill surrounded by old oak trees. The name of the place – Rasos – suggests this used to be an ancient pagan ceremony site.

The Bernardine Cemetery was established in 1810 by the Bernardine monks of the the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. As most cemeteries in the city center, it was closed by the Soviets and remained mostly unchanged from that time, with burials allowed only in existing family graves.

Antakalnis Cemetery is commonly referred to as the Military Cemetery. 12 of the 14 Soviet Union protest victims from 1991 TV tower attack are buried here, as well as the victims of Soviet Medininkai Massacre. Among other perished soldiers there are graves of Polish soldiers from 1919-20, Lithuanian, German and Russian soldiers who have fallen in World War I and thousands of French soldiers of Napoleon’s Army, whose remains were found in Vilnius and reburied in Antakalnis in 2001.

During Vėlinės, these old cemeteries are afloat with flowers and sinking in the sea of candles – people come to remember the dead heroes or prominent poets of the nation, but they also don’t forget the unknown graves of dead people whose relatives might not be around anymore to light a candle.

Lithuanian Cross-Making and the Hill of Crosses 

If you feel like venturing outside of Vilnius, Southern Lithuanian region of Dzukija and Lithuanian seaside will offer a special glimpse into the culture of Lithuanian cemeteries, with their  distinctive crosses and breathtaking nature that surrounds them.

The Lithuanian art of cross-making was recognized to be unique and added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Since Lithuania was the last country of Europe to abandon paganism and convert to Catholicism in the 14th century, pagan and Catholic elements intertwine in Lithuanian crosses – which were forbidden by Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union.

Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses, located in the northern Lithuania, is a unique and enchanting place, with over 200,000 of crosses of every shape and size, and attracting thousands of Catholic pilgrims as well as curious tourists. People started leaving crosses on the hill after the 1831 uprising against the Russian tsar – relatives put crosses to commemorate dead rebels, since they had no bodies to bury. During Soviet occupation, the KGB bulldozed the hill twice – but today, the Hill of Crosses stands tall again as the symbol of resistance and faith.

Pre-Christian Cemeteries

You can also find cemeteries in Lithuania that have no crosses – these are pre-Christian pilkapiai dating from 12-13th century – abandoned in the 14th century – but still reminding everyone of pagan Lithuania. The most prominent site of pilkapiai is in Kernave, whose first residents arrived in the 9th century BC, and which later became an important pagan city.

Similarly, you wouldn’t find any crosses in the ethnic Jewish cemeteries, or the cemeteries of Lithuanian Turkic minorities – Tatars and Karaites.

Lithuanian Cemetery Excursions by Vilnius in Love:

  • Royal Mausoleum. A visit to the crypts of Vilnius Cathedral
  • Uzupis neighborhood. The Bernardine Cemetery
  • The old Military Cemetery of Antakalnis
  • Rasu Cemetery
  • The pagan capital Kernaveand pilkapiai
  • The Hill of Crossesin Northern Lithuania
  • National Park of Dzukija
  • National Park of Curonian Spit
  • Jewish Vilnius
  • Trakai Castleand old Karaites cemetery

Vilnius in Love is a tour guide company that offers customizable and personalized tours across all regions of Lithuania.  Hiring guides who are very well versed in local history, they are able to offer trips to unique destinations and rare attractions. Contact VilniusinLove.com to learn more.

 

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Pacific Delight Debuts Kosher Jewish Heritage Tour of Southeast Asia ‘Through Jewish Eyes’

NEW YORK – Pacific Delight, a luxury tour operator which introduced a Jewish heritage tour of India last year, is now introducing Southeast Asia Through Jewish Eyes™ covering Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam in partnership with Rabbi Marvin Tokayer and the Foundation for Remote Jewish Communities (FRJC). The tour departs on Jan. 3, 2018 and will be co-led by Rabbi Marcia Tilchin, founder of the non-profit Jewish Collaborative of Orange County, and Rabbi Rachel Safman of Congregation Beth El in New London, CT.

Highlights include dinner at Singapore’s historic Magen Aboth Synagogue and a night safari to observe Singapore’s nocturnal wildlife, a boat ride on Bangkok’s “River of Kings” to the Temple of Dawn and shimmering Grand Palace with lunch at “the backpacker’s shul,” a tour of the ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site at Ayutthya, a journey through Chiang Mai’s rainforests interspersed with rice paddies and waterfalls, Shabbat at the historic Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue in Myanmar, and a fascinating trip to observe the famous pagodas of Bagan. The experience culminates in Ho Chi Minh City where passengers will visit the local synagogue in addition to exploring Saigon’s past and present by boat, bus, cyclo and foot.

The tour cost is $6,988 per person, based on double occupancy, and includes roundtrip group economy airfare from New York (JFK) or Los Angeles (LAX) via Cathay Pacific Airways, with premium upgrades available at additional cost. All internal flights and transportation are included along with deluxe, air-conditioned four- and five-star accommodations, all meals (kosher or vegetarian) including memorable Shabbat dinners in Singapore and Yangon, and fascinating cultural events and sightseeing, including riverboat tours in Singapore, Bangkok and Saigon.

Transfers, all gratuities to guides, drivers and hotel staff, and all hotel taxes and service charges are included in the package cost. Airport taxes, fuel surcharges and visa fees for Myanmar and Vietnam are not included.

An early-bird discount of $180 per person applies to bookings received by Oct. 3, 2017.

The tour cost includes a $900 per person tax-deductible donation to FRJC, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit educational charity that is devoted to preserving and promoting the endangered Jewish communities on the periphery of the Diaspora. Since its inception in 2003, FRJC has distributed more than $1 million for Jewish libraries, scholarships and sustainable farming projects in the Far East, Southeast Asia and India. Learn more at www.frjc.org.

Rabbi-Cantor Marcia Tilchin is the founder of the Jewish Collaborative of Orange County (JCoOC), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping OC Jewish residents and their families “feel the joy of Jewish.” Marcia’s passion for all things Jewish and love of helping people find what is meaningful to them in Judaism is a signature of her spiritual leadership and service to the OC Jewish community.

Rabbi Rachel Safman of Temple Beth El in New London, CT is a second-career rabbi. She earned a BS in biology from Harvard and a PhD in sociology from Cornell, then served as an advisor to the government of Thailand before accepting a teaching position at National University of Singapore, where she became involved with Singapore’s Jewish community.

Pacific Delight Tours has been a leading American tour operator to China and Asia for 44 years and is a member of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). The luxury tour operator has won numerous industry awards including the TravelAge West WAVE Award from 2008-2015, the 2009 Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Award, and the 2016 Travvy Award from travAlliancemedia for Best Vacation Packager-Pacific Asia.

Reservations, brochures and information can be obtained from travel agents and Pacific Delight Tours, telephone: (800) 221-7179 or (212) 818-1781; website: www.PacificDelightTours.com.

 

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Caves of the Ice Age Become 42nd UNESCO World Heritage Site in Germany

Some 35 to 40,000 years ago, humans took up residence in six caves in the Swabian Jura, and left behind unique evidence of their creative endeavours. These are the oldest works of art and musical instruments yet discovered anywhere in the world. Hailed as an archaeological sensation, the caves featuring the oldest Ice Age art were added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 2017.

Only the most outstanding testimonies to the history of mankind are awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site, and many of them are in Germany. Thousands of years of history have left behind a significant legacy, and it is the continuous goal of UNESCO to keep these valuable sites protected. Two places from very different eras are now coming into the spotlight of international recognition at the same time: the caves of the Ice Age in Baden-Württemberg, dating back 40,000 years, and architecture of the Bauhaus era, which began in 1919.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has named the caves of the Ice Age in the Swabian Jura in Baden-Württemberg to its list. More than 50 artifacts mostly made of bone and ivory, were discovered in six caves in the Ach- and Lonetal. These archaeological sites and prehistoric works of art from the Ice Age allow researchers to draw conclusions about the earliest traces of human settlement.

Visitors to Germany will experience the works of the Ice Age in various historical museums in Baden-Württemberg. The Prehistoric Museum Blaubeuren is a central museum for the Paleolithic period of the state of Baden-Württemberg. It displays, among other original finds, the “Venus vom Hohlenfels” and three flutes of the Ice Age. At various locations, visitors can not only marvel at the objects, but also try working with stone tools.

The museum of the University Tübingen displays a 40,000-year-old figure of a horse made of mammoth ivory, called “Vogelherdpferd“, and a cave named “Vogelherdhöhle“ is part of the archaeological park Niederstotzingen. Other artifacts from the era of hunters and gatherers are on display in the permanent Stone Age exhibition of the Landesmuseum Württemberg in Stuttgart.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Bauhaus Era 

The committee also decided to allow visitors to tour further Bauhaus buildings listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In addition to the architectural sites already included in 1996, the Bundesschule of the General German Trade Union Confederation in Bernau, as well as five arcades in Dessau-Rosslau are now added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The exterior of the Bauhaus Memorial Bundesschule Bernau, north of Berlin, is open to the public all year round. Visits of the interiors are possible through guided tours, organized by the Association baudenkmal bundesschule bernau e.V., and visitors can tour the Dessau-Törten settlement.

Petra Hedorfer, chairman of the board of the GNTB, said, “Germany is already the number one cultural destination of Europeans today. With our theme campaign “UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany – Sustainable Culture and Nature Tourism,” in 2014 we have communicated responsible tourism to these particular cultural heritage sites worldwide. The inclusion of further unique testimonies of the cultural history of humanity on the UNESCO World Heritage list will give Destination Germany new impulses. As part of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus in 2019, we are preparing a further theme campaign.”

Detailed information on UNESCO World Heritage sites in Germany is available online at www.germany.travel.

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