Vilnius small capital with big cultural heritage
Vilnius is a capital of Lithuania with many faces, from the classic sight of its red-roofed Old Town buildings, to the Baroque architecture among its green parks, and its spacious squares and winding streets.
FOOD and ALCOHOL
Alcohol. Lithuanian beer (alus) is among the best in the world. Without doubt. Test as many as you can before settling on a regular brand. The big names are Švyturys from Klaipėda, Utenos from Utena and Kalnapilis from Panevėžys, but there are loads of smaller varieties to try.
Lithuanian vodka (degtinė) is quality too, thoug in bars it defers to beer in terms of popularity. Among local spirits, look for Starka, Midus.
Lithuania is currently tightening its booze laws, so that from the start of 2018 youngsters under 20 will not be able to buy booze. Alcohol shipping sales time will also change, to Mon – Sat 10:00 – 20:00, Sun 10:00 – 15:00.
Food. Pork, potatoes, dairy struff, black bread, cabbage. Hardly cuisine superieure, you might think. But the age – old ingredients that make up traditional Lithuanian food are still being rustled up in incredibly delicious ways. Let’s tuck in.
Black bread, hard and crusty on the outside and firm and slightly sour on the inside, should be top of your list of local foods to sample. Made from dark rye flour, slices of it were once on the table for practically every meal.
Back in the day, when all Lithuanians simply ate whatever they could grow, every farmer’s wife would make her own – vigorously kneading dough made from flour, water and yeast, letting it rise, covering it with cabbage or maple leaves for flavour, and baking, reverently making the sign of the cross above it. A loaf was always kept, covered by a towel, in the most honourable place in the huose – in the best room under the images of saints.
Bread is so sacret it was once said that if a piece was drooped it should be picked up immediately, kissed and then eaten. Failure to do so and your home may go without any bread at all.
Pigs are not sacred, of course, and are slaughtered for any feast or celebration, especially Christmas and Easter. The most tender cuts are eaten immediately, the rest preserved by salting or smoking, sometimes allowing it to smoke using alder or juniper wood for up to a month.
No much of the animals is wasted. The stomach is filled with lean mince and seasoned to make a rich, dark ball of meat called skilandis. The large intestine is stuffed with grated potato to make slimily delicious vėdarai. The trotters are braised for hour and served with bacon and sauerkraut, while the crunchy ears and fatty snout are served up as beer snacks.
Our favourite way of eating pork in Lithuania is to devour a huge, boiled, heavily – smoked knuckle (virtas rūkytas kumpis), all crunchy crackling and tender meat, served with lashings of horseradish sauce, sauerkraut, potatoes an dill.
The mighty potato takes precedence over all other vegetables, even though it didn’t actually arrive in Lithuania until well into the 18th century. But the locals prefer to prepare it in an unusual way – grating it raw before cooking. Potato pancakes (bulviniai blynai) with sour cream are a must – try treat, though quality varies from restaurant to restaurant. Another dish to look out for is žemaičių blynai, soft, stout potato pancakes with a crispy exterior and stuffed with meat or mushrooms.
But the most famous potato dish is the legendary cepelinai, or didžkukuliai, huge zeppelin – shaped dumplings stuffed with minced meat, mushrooms or cottage cheese and usually topped with fried cubes of pork fat. Making them is a fine art. And if they’re not eaten on the day, they can be fried and served on the next.
Lithuania is also a country rich in mushrooms (grybai). Around 20 edible species can be found in the country’s forests jus as the autumn can be sensed in the air, but prized above all is the fat and juicy boletus. Mushrooming is a local passion, and should be done with someone who absolutely knows the edible from the poisonous.
Soups are a staple of the Lithuanian diet. In summer, you have to try the legendary bright pink šaltibarščiai, cold beetroots soup made with kefir sour milk, boiled eggs and, preferably , lots of dill. It usually comes with a small side dish of potatoes. Hot soupy favourites include the local version of borsch – usually with meat in it – mushrooms soup, cabbage soup and poppy – seed milk soup, all of them tasty.
Beef is not traditionally a Lithuanian strong point, and some restaurants do better than others at serving tender cuts. But veal is excellent just about everywhere, whether roasted, sauteed with apples or stuffed with liver. Chiken dishes are, of course, widespread and turkey is popular too, but duck, like beef, is hit or miss.
Particularly popular in Trakai but available throughout the country are kibinai – pastries filled with meat, mushrooms and čenakai, ceramic bowls piled high with succulent chunks of meat, potatoes and veg. You might see delicious balandėliai too, minced meat wrapped in cabbage leaves.
On the fish front, herring (silkė) is the most widespread, fished straight out of the Baltic Sea. Pickled, baked or fried, you will often see herring as an appetiser. If you are ever by the sea in Lithuania the most sought – after delicacy is eel, and you may also see the freshwater version on sale inland. When it comes to bigger fish, pike – perch (sterkai), pike (lydeka) and carp (karpis) are all delicious and local.
There are many dairy treats not to be missed if you’re in the supermarket. Sūreliai are amazing little sweet sausage of curd cheese often coated in chocolate, loved by children and adults alike. Curd itself comes in dry, grainy chunks, wetter flat slabs or – the most transportable – flat, hard, oval – shaped pieces often flavoured with caraway seeds, herbs or spices. In fact, the dairy section of a supermarket can be bafflingly broad, with seemingly infinite varieties of the cheese, cream, kefir, yougurt, butter and much more.
Finally, desserts. Šakotis is probably the national cake, baked slowly on a split, with deliciously sweet branches spiking away from the stem. But just as tasty is tinginys, made in variuos forms with chopped – up biscuits, cocoa and butter.
Gira is a drink made from fermented bread that is very popular in Lithuania.
Most popular places in Vilnius:
Cathedral – Basilica of St. Stanislaus, St. Ladislaus (Vilniaus Šv. Stanislovo ir Šv. Vladislovo arkikatedra bazilika) and Cathedral square.
The most important Catholic building in Lithuania Vilnius Catedral as it’s more commonly known was first build in 1251 by newly converted Grand Duke Mindaugas on the site of pagan temple. Returned to pagan use after Mindaugas death in 1263, it was given back to the Catholic Church on the country’s official conversion to the Cristianity in 1387. The building that now stands in its place has little to do with the original structure. The current building dates to around 1419, with countless modifications and additions made after that. The Neo – Classic form is largely down to Lithuania’s first true architect, Laurynas Stuoka Gucevičius. The rather plain nave betrays eleven chapels, among them the must-see Hight Baroque Chapel of St. Casimir (1458-1484), named after Lithuania’s patron saint. Build in 1636 to house his remains, the chapel is one of the country’s national treasures. On the roof of the cathedral, the three statues of Sts. Stanislaus, Helena and Casimir, supposedly representing Poland, Russia and Lithuania, are 1997 copies of the 18th – century originals which were destroyed by the Soviets in 1950. Spending several years as an art gallery and even a car repair workshop, the cathedral was returned to the Catholic Church on October 22, 1988 during the eventful Sąjūdis Congress and re-consecrated of February 5, 1989. The 57 – metre free – standing bell – tower, now a popular meeting place, was originally part of one of the gates in the city’s defensive wall and has been added to several times over the centuries, giving it its peculiar shape.
Kazimir‘s chapel is among the many impressive pieces of early Baroque architecture in Vilnius. The adjacent Bell Tower is open to visitors and offers an impressive view of the square. Bell Tower Opening hours: May – September: Monday – Saturday 10 am –7 pm, October – April: Monday – Saturday 10 am – 6 pm. Closed on Sundays and national holidays. Ticket price – 4,50 Eur
Crypts – An invisible part of the building, the Crypts presents the history of the temple situated on one of the earliest inhabited sites of Vilnius, the development of the building, and the figures of outstanding merit to the state and Church of Lithuania who are buried there. The exhibition set up in the crypts and corridors introduces the funerary traditions and archaeological finds, and leads to the Royal Mausoleum.
Opening hours : Monday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm. Visitors are admitted until 4 pm. Closed on Sundays and national holidays. Entrance price – 4,50 Eur
Address: Katedros g. 1, Vilnius
Hill of the three crosses (Trijų kryžių kalnas)
Legend has it that long ago seven Francisko monks were crucified here. Originally erected in the 17th century, Stalin had the crosses removed and buried, and only in 1989 were they rebuild according to the original plans. The crosses are a great symbol of both Lithuanian mourning and hope. An excellent view of Old Town is also to be found at this spot. It’s a great place to enjoy a view of the city.
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (Lietuvos didžiosios kunigaikštystės valdovų rūmai)
Next to the Cathedral you will see the reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.
The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania is at the centre of the historican and cultural heritage of the early Lithuanian state, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (13th-18th c.), and its rules. The original Palace was brought to the ground 200 years ago, but its reconstruction became one of the most important accents of Lithuania’s Millennium Programe in 2009. The reconstructed palace is a symbol of Lithuania’s longstanding statehood, reflecting the twist and turs of the state’s and the nation’s destiny in history, as well as its European ties. Visitors will discover the most important historical facts about Lithuania and how common rulers reigning in Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and other countries resided here and received envoys from Turkey, Persia, Spain, Italy and many European countries. The expositions present the surviving authentic ruins and unique archaelogical finds as well as rich Gothic, Renaissanse and Baroque art collection, which reflect the artistic connections between the dukes and Europe’s most powerful dynasties and Lithuanian cultural heritage in the European context.
Work hours: (June-August) Monday-Wednesday 10:00-18:00, Thursday-Saturday 10:00-20:00;
(September-May) Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10:00-18:00, Thursday 10:00-20:00, Sunday 10:00-16:00, entrance price – 3 EUR.
Address: Katedros a. 4, Vilnius
Gediminas Castle & Museum (Gedimino pilis ir muziejus)
Dafing from the 13th century, the castle was rebuilt by Grand Duke Vytautas after a major fire in 1419. By the early 1600s it was being used as a prison for disobedient members of the ruling classes, but during the chaotic 1655-61 Russian occupation the towers and defensive walls were almost completely destroyed, with partial restoration work beginning as late as 1930, by the then – occupying Poles. Inside the tower itself find models of the structure as it appeared in the 14th and 18th centuries plus other bits and pieces on the building’s history and knights in dented armour. The views from the hill and from the top of the castle are the ideal start to the a tour of the city. The walk up is a bit of a struggle for many, but there are benches thoughtfully provider along the way.
Legend about the creation of Vilnius Long, long ago, the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas was hunting in the woods of Sventaragis valley. The hunting was a success, but a very tiring one. The duke stayed there and spent a night. Gediminas had a dream that on top of the hill, where he had hunted down a taurus that day, a large iron wolf is standing and howling so hard and loud, like a hundred wolves.
The Duke asked the mage Lizdeika to explain the dream. He explained that this is an omen indicating to build a city in this place, which would later become known around the world and will become a magnificent capital city of Lithuania.
The Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas, obeying to the will of the gods, began to build the future capital city, and a castle in the centre of it. The city was named Vilnius after the nearby river Vilnia.
Open 10:00-21:00. October 1 – November 31 open 10:00 – 18:00. Ticket price – 5 EUR.
Address: Arsenalo g. 5, Vilnius 01143.
The Old Arsenal (Senasis arsenalas)
The exhibition of Lithuanian archaeology “Prehistory of Lithuania” contains more than 4,000 archaeological finds. These are unique examples of Baltic culture representing the culture of Lithuania from the appearance of the first residents in the territory of Lithuania in the 11th millennium B.C. to the formation of the Lithuanian state in the 13th century. In the first exhibition hall, “Lithuania Before Christ”, the earliest finds from the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Ages introduce work tools and weapons of the first inhabitants of Lithuania. Archaeological materials of the Neolithic Age related to hunting, household economy, fishing, early agriculture, art and religion are exhibited. Impressive ceramics of the Baltic coastal culture from the Nida settlement represent the Late Neolithic period. Maps of the spread of the Baltic coastal culture and Baltic place names show the history of the formation of Baltic culture. The first imported metal artifacts of the Bronze Age and urns from funerary monuments of the Early Iron Age are exhibited. The second exhibition hall, “Lithuania Before the Formation of the State”, addresses the history of the period after Christ that lasted more than a thousand years. The development of household conditions and lifestyle from the 1st to the 13th century is represented under the following headings: Exchange and Trade, Agriculture, Metallurgy, Weaponry, Horse and Rider, Spinning and Weaving, and Ceramics. The ethnic history of the Lithuanian nation is told through archaeological finds and the change of funerary customs of separate Baltic tribes: Lithuanians, Yotvingians-Sudovians, Aukštaitians, Selonians, Semigallians, Samogitians, Scalvians, Lamatians and Curonians. Reconstructions of clothing constitute a separate part of the exhibition.
Open 10:00-18:00. Ticket price 3 EUR.
Address: Arsenalo g. 3, Vilnius
The New Arsenal – National Museum of Lithuania (Naujasis arsenalas – Lietuvos Nacionalinis muziejus)
The main exhibition venue of the National Museum of Lithuania focuses on the history of Lithuania from the formation of the state to the 20th century and Lithuanian ethnic culture. In the first hall, the visitors can get acquainted with the history of the Vilnius Museum of Antiquities, whose museological tradition is continued by the National Museum of Lithuania. Authentic exhibits from the Museum of Antiquities and showcases dating to that period, combined with the stylistics of contemporary museum arrangement, recall the ambience of the old museum. The exhibition of the history of early Lithuania in the second hall reflects the turbulent time of the flourishing and fall of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from the formation of the state in the 13th century to its decline in 1795, and the social development of the Lithuanian state in this period. Historical events from the period of early Lithuania ruled by the Gediminids to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth are presented through authentic exhibits, arranged under separate headings linked by inner logic. The exhibition titled “Lithuania under Tsarist Rule” presents the nineteenth-century history of Lithuania – a history of an occupied country and an oppressed nation. However, it was also the period of resistance and liberation struggle, and the period of the building and modernization of the nation, which ended in the proclamation of the independent state of Lithuania on 16 February 1918. Other halls contain exhibits related to Lithuanian ethnic culture – traditional culture of Lithuanian peasants, folk art and cross crafting from the 18th to the first half of the 20th century. In the exhibition, room interiors of a residential house of Lithuanian peasants from the 18th – late 19th century are reconstructed.
Open 10:00-18:00. Ticket price 3 EUR.
Address: Arsenalo g. 1, Vilnius
Lithuanian National Opera & Ballet Theatre (Lietuvos Nacionalinis Operos ir Baleto teatras)
A stunning construction opened in 1974 and offering the whole range of works. Worth a look inside even if you don’t plan on attending anything. Box office open: 10:00 – 19:00, Sat 10:00 – 18:30, Sun 10:00 – 15:00.
Address: A. Vienuolio g. 1, Vilnius
St. Anne’s Church (Šv. Onos bažnyčia)
Unquestionably one of the city’s most famous landmarks, and quite rightly so, St. Anne’s has a history that starts with the alleged construction in the 14th century of a wooden house of worship on this spot in honor of Ona, wife of Vytautas the Great. The first historical records of a church here date from 1394, but the current Gothic masterpiece is believe to have been built between 1495 and 1500 to a design by the Bohemian architect Benedikt Rejt (1453-1534). Unlike other historical churches in Vilnius, St. Anne’s has managed to escape the ravages of time almost unscathed and is arguably the least changed of them all. Composed of 33 different styles of brick assembled into a delicate and intricate whole, the effect is simply quite stunning. It’s been said the facade incorporates the Pillars of Gediminas, one of the country’s earliest symbols. The interior is refreshingly free of ostentation. The separate bell tower has nothing to do with the original design, being built only in 1873. Visiting in 1812, Napoleon famously notes that wanted to take the building back to Paris on the palm of his hand.
Open: 10:30 – 18:30, Sun 08:00 – 17:00. Closed Monday. Mass Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat 17:30. Sunday 09:00, 11:00.
Address: Mairono g. 8, Vilnius
Bernardine Church & Monastery (Bernardinų bažnyčia ir vienuolynas)
Once forming part of the city’s original defensive walls and constructed on the site of an earlier wooden church dating from the middle of the 15th century at the behest of an order of Bernadine monks, the current vast Gothic church with Baroque and Renaissance additions dates from the early part of the 16th century on wards. As the old photographs on display show, the church interior was truly breathtaking before the Soviet authorities took control of the building, handing it over to the Vilnius Art Institute who among other things allegedly incorporated parts of the interior into the works of art the academy was producing. Returned to the monks soon after independence, a mammoth restoration project continues to this day. Current highlights include 14 magnificent rococo altars and the oldest known crucifix in the country, dating from the 15th century. The neighbouring monastery is the oldest part of the ensemble. Once famed for its extensive library and independent-minded monks, the monastery was closed soon after the failed Uprising of 1863 and turned into a barracks for tsarists troops before falling into the hands of the city’s Art Academy at the end of WWI. The building now houses the Vilnius Art academy. Open: Mon – Fri: 7.00 – 19.00, Sat – Sun: 8.00 – 19.00
Address: Mairono g. 10, Vilnius
The Republic of Užupis
A (thankfully joking) self-proclaimed republic of artists and Bohemians, Užupis has its own constitution, president, anthem, bishop, and national holiday. Užupis is also home to seven bridges, two churches and one of the oldest graveyards in Vilnius. The district‘s guardian – The Bronze Angle of Užupis – stands proudly in its main square.
Address: Malūnų g., Vilnius
Bernardine garden is situated between Gediminas Hill, the snaking Vilnelė river, and the Bernadine Monastery. The garden was originally designed in the 19 th century by Vladislovas Štrausas and has since been returned to its former glory. Today, it‘s a popular spot for an afternoon stroll with coffee in hand, and is also home to a rose garden, playgrounds and a musical fountain.
Address: B. Radvilaitės g. 8A, Vilnius
Gediminas avenue (Gedimino prospektas)
Gediminas avenue is the main avenue in Vilnius and runs through the heart of the city. In connects the cathedral Square with the Lithuanian Parliament, the Seimas. On the way to either of these sports, make sure to visit Vinco Kudirkos Square, where you will find a monument dedicated to Vincas Kudirka – the author of the Lithuanian national anthem.
Address: Gedimino pr., Vilnius
The museum of occupations and freedom flights (the KGB museum)
This museum is a reminder of the 50 -years long Soviet occupation of Lithuania. Located in the former KGB headquarters, the museum serves as a reminder of the physical, intellectual and spiritual decimation of Lithuania by the Soviet authorities. The cells and interrogation chambers used until 1991 can be visited and are located in the basement of the building. Ticket price 4 EUR.
Address: Aukų g. 2A, Vilnius.
Pilies and Didžioji streets
Pilies street in one of the oldest and most colorful streets in Vilnius Old Town, and was once the main road to Gediminas castle. Pilies and Didžioji streets connect the castle and Gateso f Dawn.
Address: Pilies gatvė, Vilnius
President palace (Prezidentūra)
The official residence of the President of Lithuania, the palace started life in the 14th century as a much smaller structure build at the behest of the city’s first Bishop, Andrzej Jastrzębiec. Gaining its late Classical appearance much later, the building remained the home of the cream of the city’s Catholic clergy until the 1795 Partition when it became the residence of Vilnius tsarist governors. Many illustrious figures have spent a night in the building over the centuries, among them Tsar Alexander I, Napoleon Bonaparte and local boy, some time dictator, military giant and Polish national hero Jozef Pilsudski to name but a few. After independence in 1990 the building served several purposes until assuming its current role in 1997. Changing of the Guard take place on Sundays at 12:00. Free tours of the Presidental Palace take place on Fridays from 16:45, Sundays 09:00 – 14:30. Tours are limited to 25 people.
Address: Daukanto g. 3, Vilnius
Vilnius university (Vilniaus universitetas) and Sts. John’s Church (Šv. Jonų bažnyčia)
Vilnius University and St. John‘s Church are located next to the President Palace.
Vilniaus university established in 1579 and one of the oldest universities in Eastern Europe, The spending ensemble that makes up Vilnius University’s main campus buildings embraces just about every major architectural style of the last 400 years. Originally belonging to the Catholic Church, the university became a secular seat of learning in 1773 and has remained so ever since. Closed for much of the 19th and the first 18 years of the 20th century, famous students who studied here include the Polish Romantic poets Adam Mickiewic and Julius Slowacki, Lithuanian author and historian Simonas Daukantas and Lithuania – born Polish Nobel Prize-winning author Czeslaw Milosz. As well as housing the oldest library in the country, Vilnius University is also famed for its lovely courtyards, of which depending on your definition of what a courtyard is, there are either 12 or 13. The university itself claims 13, although by rights the correct number should be 12 as one of them only has three walls, the fourth having been destroyed when the neighbouring Presidential Palace was build. The ensemble was fully restored in 1979 and is well worth investigating. A map can be found at Universiteto 7 explaining where everything.
Open 09:00 – 18:00. Closed Sunday. Ticket price 1.5 EUR
Address: Universiteto g. 7, Vilnius
Sts. John’s church built at the same time as Lithuania’s conversion to Christanity in 1387, albeit with numerous radical alterations though the centuries, the vast and imposing Sts. John’s Cruch was given to the Jesuit Church in 1571 by Zygmund II August. On the dissolution of the Jesuit Order in 1773, the church was handed over to the adjoining University. The present building, which contains elements of all of the major architectural styles associated with Old Town boasts and extraordinary and predominantly Gothic interior whose crowning glory is its organ of which parts date back to an organ that came from the Belarusian city of Polotsk in 1831. The organ, the largest in country and that received a complete overhaul in stages between 1974 and 2000, is used extensively in classical concerts the church is now famous for. Note that the church is part of the Vilnius University complex and can’t be visited separately: you will need a ticket from the university itself.
Mass: Thu, Wed, Thu 18:00, Sun 11:00, 13:00
Address: Šv. Jono g. 12, Vilnius
The world Seimas refers to the Lithuania parlament and can traced linguistically to the Polish word seim, meaning a gathering or assembly. With its originals in the second half of the 15th century, the contemporary Seimas is based on the First Seimas, which convened in Kaunas in 1922-1923. The work of architect brother Algimantas and Vytautas Nasvytis today’s Seimas building dates from 1982 and unremarkable on the outside with the exception of the remains of the barricades build to defend the self – proclaimed independent Lithuanian Supreme Counsil building after Soviet forces tried to reinstate a Moscow – backed government with the storming of the Television Tower and other buildings in the early hours of 13 January 1991. Located on the western side of the building, the barricades are protected by huge sheets of glass but are clearly visible and retain the original political graffiti of the time. A small exhibition space has been added which hold public exhibitions related to the struggle for independence. Guided tours of the Seimas itself run daily during the week and include details of the events of 1991 as well as a look at some of the interior’s more interesting features including Kazys Morkūnas extraordinary stained glass windows. Tours must be booked two weeks in advance and are in Lithuanian unless otherwise requested. Curiously, the word Seimas is also used to describe storks, Lithuania’s unofficial national bird, when they gather for winter migration.
Address: Gedinimo g. 53, Vilnius
The former little Jewish ghetto
From Medieval times until World War II, Stiklių street was home to Vilnius Jewish community, and was famoust as a trade and craft centre. During the Nazi Occupation of Vilnius in 1941, the area was turned into the smaller of the two Jewish Ghettos. By the time it was liquidated in 1943, 55.000 of the city‘s Jews living in the both ghettos had been killed.
Those who could not find a hideout until the Nazis came were locked in ghettos. There were two ghetto locations in Vilnius: the Small and the Large ghetto.
The Small ghetto was between Stiklių, Gaono, Antokolskio and Žydų streets. There were more than 12 thousand Jews jailed there. Many of them were classed as intelligentsia, hard workers and unemployable persons.
There were some old architectural relics restored in this ghetto, including several houses in Stiklių and Gaono streets. In Žydų street there were objects like a large synagogue, Gaono house of pray, the famous Strašunas library and some other buildings for religious purposes.
All these buildings were destroyed by the government of the Soviet Union. The only thing left to remind the old synagogue is a memorial for Gaonas built there. The Small ghetto was closed in 21st of October, 1941.
The Large ghetto was located between Rūdninkų, Mėsinių, Ašmenos, Žemaitijos, Dysnos, Šiaulių and Ligoninės streets. There were about 29 thousand people locked in this ghetto. The council (judenrat) of the Large ghetto was established in the palace of Oginski in Rūdninkų street. Furthermore, this ghetto held few Jewish partisan centers, also a theatre was opened, in 1942. This ghetto was finally closed in 23rd of September, 1943. After the ghetto was closed Jews, still capable of working, were sent to work camps, all others – to Maidanek death camp.
Vokiečių street and Town hall square
Town Hall Square was very important place of trade and commerce for Vilnius in the 15 th century. While less so now, it still plays host to a number of open-air fairs, concerts and other celebrations. To the right (next to the Town Hall) is Vokiečių street, which is now popular street for the city‘s walkers thanks to its numerous open-air cafes. In the 16 th century, it was one of the most prestigious streets in Vilnius and was where the city‘s wealthiest merchants lived.
Town hall address: Didžioji g. 31, Vilnius
St. Casimirs’s Church (Šv. Kazimiero bažnyčia)
St. Casimir’s in many ways represents a microcosm of Lithuania itself. Founded by the Jesuis and dedicated to Lithuania’s patron saint Prince Casimir Jagiellon (1458 – 1484), construction on the mighty building began in 1604 an was completed in 1635. Burnt to the ground just 20 years later when the Russians invaded in 1655, conflagration visited twice again within the next century in 1709 and 1749 before the architect, mathematical and astronomer Tomas Žebrauskas restored it to more or less the from it’s seen in today. Over the centuries the church fell into the hands of the Augustinians, Napoleon’s Grande Armee, the Russian Orthodox Church (who significantly altered its appearance), the Lutherans (who used it as the garrison church for the occupying German Army during WWI) and others, including the Soviets who turned the whole place into a museum of atheism no less. Returned to the Catholic Church in 1988, the building was consecrated in 1991 and has since undergone a massive renovation protect, restoring its predominantly Baroque style with Gothic and Renaissance touches. Of particular interest inside are three late Baroque altars and a recently discovered 17th century crypt containing dark bas-reliefs featuring miscellaneous religious motifs. Open: 16:30 – 18:30, Sun 08:00 – 14:30.
Address: Didžioji g. 34, Vilnius
Aušros vartų street and Gates of Dawn (Aušros vartai)
Aušros vartų street is one of the most religiously iconic in Vilnius, and walking along it, you will see many places of interest such as st. Kazimir‘s Church, the Basilian Gates, the Church of the Holy Trinity, the Orthodox Church, Church of St, Theresa and internationally famous Gates of Dawn.
Gates of Dawn (or Sharp Gate and Ostra Brama) completed in 1522 is the only remaining gate from the city’s original defensive walls. As was common at the time, an image of the Virgin Mary was placed above all gates to protect the city, and the story of the Gates of Dawn starts from simple historic fact. The current image, known as The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy, was painted on eight pieces of oak in around 1630 by an unknown artist, was embellished with gold and silver about 40 years after that, was housed inside a purpose – build chapel above the gate in 1706 and is believed to have magical healing powers. Interestingly, the site is revered by both the Carholic and Orthodox faiths and is such an important part of the city’s cultural heritage that it remained open throughout the Soviet occupation. Watch as people walking underneath say a silent prayer. The chapel is open to the public and is accessed via a small door on the left as you’re wallking up the hill. Open 06:00 – 19:00
Address: Aušros vartų 14, Vilnius
Panoramic view from Subačiaus street
On the corner between Subačiaus and Mairinio streets there is a panoramic view that overlooks the Old Town and Užupis. Bets seen in summer, but still worth a visit all year round.
How to get there: take bus No. 10, 11, 13, 33, 34, 74 (Subačiaus or Misionierių stops).
Address: Maironio g. / Subačiaus g. Vilnius
The Bastion of Vilnius city Wall (Barbakanas)
This is part of the Vilnius Defensive Wall, often called “barbican”. The Bastion is a Renaissance-style fortification characterized by its original construction. It consists of a tower installed in the city defence wall, underground gun ports and a connecting corridor, which turns into a 48-metre long tunnel. The Bastion was built in the first half of the 17th century by the German military engineer, Friedrich Getkant. The Bastion was severely damaged during the wars with Moscow in the middle of the 17th century. During World Wars I and II, German military arsenals were located in the building. You can enjoy a picturesque view of the Old Town from the Bastion terrace. Being located on a hill, this bastion also offers great city views.
Address: Bokšto g. 20 / Subačiaus g. 18, Vilnius
The TV Tower
Vilnius TV Tower is the tallest building in the city at 326.5 metres, and was one of they key areas in Lithuania‘s fight for independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Nowadays, visitors can take a lift to a revolving observation platform with a cafe, When the weather is clear visitors can take in a spectacular view of the city, and end of the surrounding countryside within a 50 kilometre radius.
Working hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00-21:00, Friday-Saturday 11:00-22:00, entrance price – 7-9 EUR.
How to get there: take trolleybus No. 1, 3, 9, 16 or bus No. 54.
Address: Sausio 13-osios g. 10 Vilnius
The Church of St. Peter and Paul (Šv. Apaštalų Petro ir Povilo bažnyčia)
Believed to have been built on the site of a site of worship to Milda, the pagan goddess of love, this breathtaking late Baroque masterpiece was commissioned to celebrate victory over the Russians in 1668 by Michael Casimir Pac, the Grand Hetman of the Lithuanian armies, who never lived to see its completion. Financed by two of Pac’s cousins and completed under several master craftsmen the rather plain facade betrays an interior by Giovanni Pietro Perti and Giovanni Maria Gali that’s quite simply out of this world. Containing over 2000 astonishing stucco moldings represeting miscellaneous religiuos and mythological scenes, of equal magnificence are the 20th – century altar containing a wooden figure of Christ, Antakalnio Jėzus (Jesus of Antakalnis) which features real human hair brought from Rome in 1700 and the Latvian chandelier made of brass and glass beads and dating from 1905.
How to get there: take trolleybus No. 2, ,4, 17, 20 or bus No. 6G. Open 06:30 – 18:45.
Address: Antakalnio g. 1, Vilnius
The National gallery of art (Nacionalinė dailės galerija)
Built during the Soviet-era, the National art gallery now collects and researches Lithuanian art from the 20 th and 21 th centuries. It prides itself on being one of the country‘s biggest institutions dedicated to international contemporary art.
How to get there: take trolleybus No. 9, 19 or bus No. 30, 43, 46, 52, 56. Open: Tuesday 11.00-19.00; Wednesdays 11.00-19.00; Thursdays 12.00-20.00; Fridays 11.00-19.00; Saturdays 11.00-19.00; Sundays 11.00-17.00. Ticket price – 2 EUR.
Address: Konstitucijos pr. 22, Vilnius
Belmontas entertainment centre
Found just outside of Vilnius, Belmontas was built in the former French Mill complex. Very family orientated, the centre has restaurants, a summer terrace, a children‘s playground, plus zones to take a rest. Around Belmontas, visitors can find walking routes, plus an adventure park with a zip-wire. In summer, sports lovers can take a canoe route, which runs from Belmontas to the heart of the city centre.
PŪČKORIAI EXPOSURE – The core of the Pavilniai Regional Park is the valley of the Vilnia River. Visitors can follow the tourist route of the park, which goes along the Vilnelė River from Pūčkorių Dam.
The Pūčkorių exposure is a unique geological monument, the highest and the most impressive exposure in Lithuania. Its height exceeds 65 metres.
In 2013 Pūčkoriai exposure was adapted for visitors with the movement disabilities (terraces, stairs, wheelchair ramps, parking).
Adress: Belmonto str. 17 Vilnius
Founded in 1991 by Lithuania sculptor, Gintas Karosas, Europos park spans over 55 hectares and is also home to a world of art, which includes large-scale exhibits by internationally recognized artists such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Sol LeWitt, Dennis Oppenheim, and many others.
How to get there: from the stop “Broniaus Laurinavičiaus skveras“ at Kalvarijų street, take bus 66 marked Žalgirio-Skirgiškės. Ticket price – 9 EUR. The rental of an audio guide in English, Russian or Lithuanian – 8 EUR.
Address: Europos Parkas, Joneikiskiu k., 15148 Vilnius r.,
- Everywhere you can pay by credit card;
- This small capital is safe for the tourists, many young people speak English, older people talk Russian. Or course, national language is Lithuanian;
- From Vilnius airport to the city centre you can get by train, bus or microbus.
Train. There is a train “Vilnius-Airport” which is running from Vilnius railway station. The ticket price 0.70 EUR.;
Bus. From Vilnius airport to Vilnius city you can go by buses: No. 1 (Station-Vikingų St.- Airport), No. 2 (Station-Liepkalnio St.-Vikingų St.-Airport), No. 3G (Fabijoniškės-Centre-Airport), No. 88 (Airport-Station-Old Town-Nepriklausomybės Square), single ticket price – 1 EUR.
Microbus. The company „Toks“ transports passengers from the bus station to Vilnius airport and back by microbuses. Single ticket price – 2 EUR. Bus stop is installed next to the airport terminal, near arrival hall C.
- Vilnius is a small capital and the main city centre object you can visit by foot.
- The main events in Vilnius:
Kaziukas fair. Every March in Vilnius city starts with big festival, there are very big market and you can by traditional good. Where: Streets in Old Town and City Centre;
Užupis independence day. Every April Vilnius’ Užupis district is known for its community of artists who one day decided to proclaim independence. The whole idea was humorous in nature, so what better day to celebrate independence than April Fool’s Day? Drop by – the biggest party is likely to take place at the square by the Angel of Užupis. Where: Užupis;
Street music day. For one special day every year, usually in May, Lithuanian musicians and bands take to the streets to give free performances to everyone who wants to listen. Where: Streets in Old Town and City Centre;
Culture night. Every May, just one time per year opens night festival, where you can see many performances for free. Where: Where: Streets in Old Town and City Centre;
Vilnius city fiesta. Every year in the last summer weekend or first autumn weekend. There are many attractions, concerts, performances. Where: Streets in Old Town and City Centre;
Christmas. In the Cathedral square there are Christmas tree, Christmas market for nice goodies
- All buses and trolleybuses in Vilnius are owned and operated by the Municipality. Paper tickets for single journeys are no longer available from kiosks and can only be bought from the driver, with the currently priced at 1 EUR for a single journey on the vehicle. Unless you plan on spending a lot of time using public transport whilst in Vilnius, this relative simple system should be more than adequate although it’s worth mentioning the alternative, namely the Vilniečio Kortelė, an electronic ticket available for 1.5 EUR from kiosks around town. Technically a brilliant idea, the Vilniečio Kortelė is a bit confusing in reality due to the variety of credits it’s possible to add to it. The two most useful top-up options, available at kiosks around the city, are to top up with either journeys lasting for up to 30 minutes at 0.64 EUR a trip or up to 60 minutes for 0.93 EUR. These can then be used easily by holding the cart against the yellow machine on all buses and trolleybuses which automatically take the fare off the card. Alternatively, put any amount you choose on the card and select which length journey you want when using machine on board the vehicle. Other options are available for tickets valid from one to 270 days, although we recommend you get a local to help you if choosing one of these. You can find out all you need to know about schedules online at www.vilniustransport.lt and more about the Vilniečio Kortelė at www.vilniusticket.lt
- Stay in the heard of city center Novotel Vilnius Centre
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