Some tips what to see in Lithuania
Some tips what to see in Lithuania Reviews
Tips for tourists in Lithuania Aug 31, 2007
Main facts about the country:
LITHUANIA is the biggest of the three Baltic States. It borders Latvia in the north, Belarus in the southeast, Poland and Kaliningrad Region in the southwest.
The country has a diverse landscape - three hilly up-land and three lowland plains. The highest point is Juozapine Hill (293.6 m above the sea level), not far from Vilnius. Lithuania has a 99 km coastline covered with sand beaches and dunes.
The Lithuanian language is an official state language of Lithuania. It is an ancient Indo-European language. Other languages widely spoken these days are Russian, Polish as well as English and German.
The population of Lithuania totals 3.48 million. Lithuanians comprise 83.5%, Russians 6.3%, Poles 6.7%, Byelorussians 1.2%, Ukrainians 0.7%, Jews 0.1% and others 1.5%.
The majority of Lithuanian religious believers are Roman Catholics (79%). There are also Russian Orthodox, Lutherans and Baptists, followers of Islam and Judaism.
January 1 - New Year
February 16 - Independence Day
March 11 - Restoration of Independence
March/April - Easter
May 1 - May Day
First Sunday in May - Mother's Day
July 6 - Day of Statehood
August 15 - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 1 - All Saints' Day
December 25/26 - Christmas
The national currency of Lithuania is the Litas (LTL), 1 Litas = 100 cents. The Litas is pegged to the Euro at 1 EUR = 3.4528 LTL. Foreign currencies can be easily exchanged in banks and exchange offices.
By air. International airports operate in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga providing regular flight connections with major European capitals and cities.
By sea. Klaipeda seaport offers passenger ferry connections with Kiel and Mukran in Germany, as well as Karlshamn in Sweden.
By rail. There is a convenient rail link St. Petersburg-Berlin (via three Baltic States). The daily Baltic Express, which links Poland with Estonia, stops at three Lithuanian destinations. Other rail links include Moscow, Kaliningrad, Minsk, etc.
By road. Lithuania is crossed by two major international transport corridors, including Via Baltica (North-South) and Minsk-Klaipeda (East-West) highway. There is a variety of bus lines, providing connections with major European cities.
It is transitional varying between maritime and continental. Average temperatures: +17.20C in summer and -4.80C in winter. Annual precipitation level: 774.6 mm. Humidity: 78%.
There are some tips what would be interesting to visit in Lithuania :)
Before starting your meanderings around the streets of the Old Town, and its churches, museums, craft workshops and galleries, it is worth getting a bird’s eye view of Vilnius and taking in a panoramic view of the city. There are some hills and high buildings suitable for this purpose.
The highest building in Vilnius is the television tower. It has a total height of 326.5 metres, and at 165 metres the tower’s restaurant is the highest observation point in the city. The circular floor of the restaurant does a complete revolution once per hour, giving people sitting at the tables by the windows an excellent bird’s eye view of the whole city. A great vantage point to view the city centre is the bar on the 22nd floor of the Reval Hotel Lietuva, which stands near the northern bank of the Neris River, on the edge of the Old Town. An open air view of the Old Town can be had from several hilltops in the city. At the top of the castle tower on Gediminas’ Hill there is an observation area. You can get to the castle by the cobbled path that winds up the hill or you can take a ride to the top in the funicular. Across the Vilnelė River in the adjacent Sereikiškių Park you can go to the top of several hills along the escarpment: Trijų kryžių (Three Crosses), Bekešo, Altanos, Stalo and Gedimino kapo (Gediminas’ Grave).
A narrow path leads from Gedimino kapo (Gediminas’ Grave) Hill to Užupis, the artists’ district of Vilnius. This is the home of the self-declared ‘independent’ Republic of Užupis. It has its own insignia (you will see it as you drive into Užupis from the Old Town over the bridge on the Vilnelė River), its official seal and a guardian angel in the form of a sculpture. It also has a Constitution, a copy of which is displayed at the beginning of Paupio (Riverside) Street. Along the bank of the Vilnelė there are several nice cafés and open artists’ courtyards.
A tidy view of the Old Town is to be had from Bastėjos kalnas (Bastille Hill). At the bottom to the right of the hill is the Tymai quarter, unfortunately a bit rundown since World War II, but still the venue of Vilnius’ annual craftsmen’s fair. The churchyards of Šv. Trejybės (Holy Trinity) church and other nearby sacred buildings radiate peace and serenity. Unfortunately, most of the courtyards in the area are now private property and cannot be entered, but if the opportunity arises it is worth taking a peek to admire the beautifully quiet surroundings or the Mediterranean-style wooden balconies.
Museum lovers will not be disappointed by the Lithuanian National Museum, the Museum of Applied Art and the Vilnius Picture Gallery. Admirers of contemporary art will find it worth visiting the Contemporary Art Centre, while those who wish to feel the chill of the dreadful totalitarian era inflicted on Lithuania (1940–1990) can visit the Genocide Victims’ Museum, which has been established in former KGB premises.
Some of the Lithuanians tour operators offers many excursions around in Vilnius and around it. Here are few of them:
A city tour of Vilnius will feature the Old Town with its numerous attractions: the Cathedral with a Bell Tower, the ruins of the Lower Castle, Gediminas Castle, St. Anne’s Church, the Gates of Dawn with a holy image of the Virgin Mary, Vilnius University buildings with cosy inner courtyards, the President’s Palace, and the Church of St. Peter and Paul. You will be also provided a chance to admire the panoramic view of the Lithuanian capital from the top of the Three Crosses Hill.
A visit to Trakai will reward you with another dose of Lithuania’s history and relaxing nature views. Trakai, an ancient capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, is situated 25 km south from Vilnius. The main highlights of the tour are the 14th century Insular Castle in Lake Galve, the remaining Karaite houses along the main street as well as the kenessa, a praying house of the Karaites. Nowadays the castle houses a museum of history and is a favourite place for classical music concerts and theatrical stage adaptations. Lunch in a local restaurant tasting Karaites’ specialities - kibinai - could be organised on request.
PARK OF EUROPE
This open-air museum of the Centre of Europe is just 20 min drive from Vilnius. You will enjoy the landscape of the park (55 ha) and will at the same time discover the admirable world of contemporary art (over 90 large-scale works by artists from 29 countries).
The monument of the Centre of Europe contains indications of all the capitals of Europe and information on the distances to them.
Recently the Guinness World Record Book registered a record - the largest sculpture made of TV-sets, created in the Park of Europe.
A village located on the banks of the River Neris (35 km from Vilnius) has been known as an ancient capital of Lithuania. Archaeological excavations uncovered a medieval settlement dating back to the 12th century. In Kernavņ you will be able to climb 5 mounds and enjoy a breath-taking view of the river valley graced by the bends of the River Neris as well as visit the Archaeology and History Museum exhibition. Annual events, like midsummer day’s celebration, traditional dance and song events, Days of Live Archaeology are held in Kernave.
A sightseeing tour will start at Kaunas Castle and will follow to the Old Town featuring the Town Hall Square as well as its numerous churches and architectural monuments: St. George’s Church, Jesuit Church, the Church of Vytautas the Great, the Cathedral, also the Theological Seminary and Perkunas House. The tour will pay a tribute to the Statue of Liberty and the Hall of Fame featuring the most distinguished countrymen. A walk along the central pedestrian avenue - Laisves aleja (Avenue of Freedom) - will drag you into a whirlpool of street vendors, musician, cafČs and souvenir shops full of people and tourists. Optional visits: M.K. Ciurlionis Art Museum or the Museum of Devils.
Pazaislis architectural ensemble stands in a splendid isolation on the shore of the Kaunas Lagoon. It is one of the most beautiful Baroque style ensembles in Lithuania. The ensemble was built in the 17th century under the supervision of Italian masters from Florence. In summer the monastery hosts classical music festivals, attracting thousands of local inhabitants and tourists.
OPEN-AIR MUSEUM IN RUMSISKES, half day tour
Located 25 km from Kaunas the open-air country life museum in Rumsiskes offers acquaintance with the 18th-19th century architecture, traditions, crafts and the way of life of different ethnographic regions of the country. Entire buildings and artefacts from towns, villages and farmsteads from all over Lithuania were brought to this place and reassembled. The museum also stages folk song and dance events as well as other ethnic festivities. In summer a trip to Rumsiskes by steamboat across the Kaunas Lagoon could be quite relaxing and enjoyable.
A sightseeing tour of the third biggest city and seaport of Lithuania encompasses the most significant sights. Enjoy a walk in the Old Town along numerous old town streets with Fachwerk houses, visit the Theatre Square with the statue of Annichen von Tharau, an old Neo-Gothic Post Office, Mazvydas Sculpture Park as well as the Kopgalis Fortress housing a Maritime Museum. Optional visit to old German Cemetery could be organised on request.
You will visit Kretinga, a spiritual and cultural centre of the northwestern part of Lithuania. The tour includes a visit to the Kretinga Museum, which was founded in the former Kretinga estate of Count Tiskevicius. The Kretinga Museum exhibits the history, traditions, crafts, and lifestyle of this part of Lithuania. The tour will take you to an exotic winter garden of the former palace with year round flourishing plants and nice water cascades, housing a cosy café. Later you will visit the most notable architectural monument of the town - the Church ensemble and Franciscan monastery, which are surrounded by a nice botanical garden.
Palanga walking tour will feature a number of natural and cultural monuments. The city centre still abounds with 19th-20th century villas and post-war vacation and resort buildings, while the Neo-Gothic Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is an excellent example of old Palanga architecture. You will stroll in the Botanical Garden admiring the picturesque nature, the swans as well as the Neo-Renaissance Palace of Count Tiskevicius, housing a unique Museum of Amber. You will trace the ancient Lithuanian legends while climbing the Birute Hill, which reveals a breathtaking view of the Baltic coastline. The promenade pier and music-filled Basanavicius street are the sites that shouldn’t be missed
The present Nida was established after people left the old Nida, a settlement near the Grand Dune, covered up with drifting sand in the beginning of the 18th century.
A sightseeing tour features the old Neo-Gothic Evangelic Lutheran chapel and an old graveyard nearby. The unusual gravestones are solely characteristic to the seacoast region. You will visit Thomas Mann memorial house-museum, walk along the streets with typical fishermen houses, old villas. The present day attraction in Nida is the path of glory. Nevertheless, Nida is best appreciated for its undisturbed nature, amazing beauty of its dunes and the clear waters of the sea and the lagoon. Therefore, we will take you to Urbas Hill with the old lighthouse to admire the panorama of the Curonian Spit as well as to the ParnidĻio dune marked with the sundial on top of it.
Juodkrante is one of the oldest surviving settlements in Neringa. A nearby old grove protected the town from the drifting sand. At the end of the 19th century amber was excavated at the lagoon. Nowadays it has become one of the most popular seaside resorts.
The tour will feature an old part of Juodkrante with Evangelical Lutheran Church, old fishermen houses, 19th-20th century resort buildings, the Hill of Witches with its numerous picturesque wooden statues. Optional visits to the Weathercock Museum or the Park of Sculptures can be organised.
BOATING ON THE CURONIAN LAGOON
We would like to offer you to strike the waves of the lagoon with the 19th century fishing boat or a yacht. The boat will take you to the other side of the Curonian Lagoon - Ventes Ragas, which is famous as an ornithological centre and a perfect fishing location.
Siauliai sightseeing features a visit to St. Apostles Peter and Paul’s Cathedral complex, the Sundial Square with the Archer sculpture, the Hill of Rebels as well as Vilnius pedestrian street with a summer amphitheatre, the River Rude fountain and different museums located along this street.
Usually Siauliai sightseeing is combined with a visit to the Hill of Crosses.
HILL OF CROSSES
One of the most unforgettable and emotional sites in Lithuania is located in the vicinity of Siauliai town. It is the Hill of Crosses - a shrine for many Catholics. The initial crosses were set at this location to honour the dead after the rebellion of 1831. The Tsarist authorities, later the Soviet authorities tried to remove the crosses on many occasions, but they were always secretly replaced by people overnight. Today, more than 50.000 crosses evidence the strong spirit and faith of the Lithuanian people. Pope John Paul II held a mass at the hill during his 1993 trip to Lithuania.
BUT if you are staying only in Vilnius, so here are top 20 spots you can not miss!!!
1. Gediminas avenue
Gedimino prospektas (Gediminas’ Avenue, Prospect) is the main street of Vilnius. It runs from the Žvėrynas Bridge (over the Neris River) to Šventaragio Street (Cathedral Square). This street was formed in 1836 as Šv. Georgijaus / Šv. Jurgio (St George’s) Prospect. While Vilnius was under Polish occupation (1920–1939) it was called Adomo Mickevičiaus Street (in Polish – ‘ulica Mickiewicza’). During the Soviet régime it was renamed Lenin’s Prospect, but from 1989 it has been known by its present name of Gediminas’ Prospect.
Along this street one finds the important national institutions of the Seimas (Parliament) of the Republic of Lithuania and the National Martynas Mažvydas Library, as well as banks, hotels, luxurious shops, restaurants and cafés.
2. Gediminas’ Tower of the Upper Castle
The Vilnius Castle Museum was opened in 1960, and in 1968 it became a subdivision of the Lithuanian National Museum. The exposition of the Vilnius Castle Museum displays reconstruction models of Vilnius castles of the second part of the 14th and the beginning of the 17th centuries, armament, iconographic material of old Vilnius. An observation deck on the top of the tower is the best place from which to appreciate a magnificent panorama of Vilnius.
In 2003, a funicular railway started operating in Vilnius, which takes people from the foot of Gediminas Hill to the top. It takes 35 seconds for the funicular railway to cover a 71-meter long distance, and the entire ascending process, including getting on and off the funicular, takes about one minute. The train accommodates as many as 16 people at any one time. While going up you can see beautiful vistas of the city along with the River Neris. The railway is a great help to elderly people and parents with small children. It starts its journey up from the only closed yard of the National Museum, which you can access from the River Neris side.
The tickets cost: adults – 2 Litas, students and schoolchildren – 1 Litas. Children under 10 years of age and senior citizens are free. The same ticket is valid for the return journey.
3.Kalnų Park and Three Crosses
The easiest way to reach Kalnų Park is from T. Kosciuškos Street. Having climbed the hill, you will find yourself on the stage. In summer, a number of different concerts and festivals are held here. The area of the Park is adjacent to adjoins Užupis (Krivių Street) and the Vilnia River. Kalnų Park is made up of several hills. The most magnificent of them is the Hill of Three Crosses.
It is believed that the three crosses were first erected here in the 17th century to commemorate a group of monks from a nearby monastery, who were martyred in the 14th century. According to legend, seven were killed and seven were tied to wooden crosses and floated down the Neris River, with the instruction to return to the west from whence they had come. The monument has changed many times. The current one was built by the architect and sculptor, A. Vivulskis in 1989 at the beginning of the Rebirth movement. It was built to replace the one that had been removed by the Soviet authorities in the 1950s, pieces of which still remain on the slope on the far side. The Hill of Three Crosses is also known as Kreivasis (crooked) Hill, or Plikasis (bare) Hill or Tauro Hill (the gleaming white monument marks the site of the former Crooked Castle, which is believed to have stood there (in Latin, referred to as the curvum castrum).
Stalas (Table) Hill was given this name because of its shape. The top is as even as a table.
The Hill of Gediminas’ Grave marks the burial site of Duke Gediminas. This hill is not only for those who want to enjoy a superb view of the wide panorama of the city, but also for members of the religious Balts communities who gather there, near the pagan altar to celebrate their festivals.
Bekešas Hill was named after Kasparas Beketas, one of the famous Commanders of the then joint Lithuanian and Polish State, who was buried there in 1580. He came from a famous family of Hungarian noblemen. He was buried here because he practised Arian religion and the Catholic Church of the time did not give permission to have his remains buried in their churchyard. In the middle of the 19th century, the monument together with the grave of Kasparas Beketas fell into the Vilnia River.
4. National Museum of Lithuania
The Museum houses main collections of archaeology, history and ethnic culture of Lithuania. It is situated in the historical centre of Lithuania – in the buildings of the Vilnius Castle complex. Today the Museum has over 998 thousand exhibits. It organises expeditions of ethnic culture researchers and historians, carries out archaeological excavations. More than half the exhibits of the museums of Lithuania to be restored, are restored at the Restoration Centre. There is a specialised library and the archive at the Museum. Expositions of archaeology, history, ethnic culture and thematic exhibitions illustrate the development of history and culture of Lithuania. More than 250 thousand people visit the Museum every year. The Museum has guided tours.
5. Pilies and Didžioji Streets
Didžioji (‘Main’) Street is one of Vilnius’ oldest streets. It starts at Subačiaus Street and extends to Šv. Jono (Saint John’s) Street. Its further extension is Pilies (‘Castle’) Street, which formerly was considered to be one street along with Didžioji Street, and it was called Didžioji Pilies gatvė (‘Castle Main Street’). These two streets are among the most visited by local townspeople and by visitors. Here you will find all that you seek: luxurious boutiques, coffee shops, cultural centres, embassies, night clubs, souvenir sellers and the happy hubbub of the city.
6. St Catherine’s Church and Square of Stanisław Moniuszko
The church of Saint Catherine is the first church to have been extensively restored since Lithuania regained its independence. The church was substantially renovated, with complex restoration work being performed on the interior. The central altar of the church was fully refurbished.
In 2006 the Vilnius City Municipality transferred the right of administration of Saint Catherine’s churchto the “Vilnius Teachers’ House” organisation. The central nave of the church of Saint Catherine is ideal for concerts. The acoustics are excellent, and the venue is used for cultural events, as well as for rehearsals and concerts of the Šv. Kristoforo kamerinis orkestras (Saint Christopher’s Chamber Orchestra), the choir “Jauna muzika” (“Young Music”), the boys’ and young people’s choir “Ąžuoliukas” (“Little Oak”) and other artistic collectives and performers.
S. Moniuškos Square is next to Saint Catherine’s church. The Square has been refurbished with new paths joining the neighbouring streets to Saint Catherine’s church. It has been paved with granite blocks and paving slabs, the decorative granite fountain has been reconstructed, and complex work has been undertaken on strengthening and repairing the fence between the Benedictine monastery and the Square. Lighting has been installed in the Square and the façade of Saint Catherine’s church has been illuminated. Fifteen park benches have been placed in the Square for the convenience of passers-by.
7. The Cathedral (St Stanislaus and St Vladislav Cathedral)
It is thought that the first church was established in 1251 by Grand Duke Mindaugas, following his conversion. Many Grand Dukes of Lithuania were crowned and many of them are buried there. With the passing of time the cathedral had to be rebuilt several times due to fires, and was remodelled in more modern styles. In the 18th century the building took on its present form in the strict classical style. The Cathedral has more than ten chapels in their original form, which contain many historic and art monuments.
The St Casimir’s Chapel is the most significant one. In the fourth decade of the 20th century the Sovereigns Mausoleum, beneath St Casimir’s Chapel, was fitted out to hold human remains, and now contains the bones of Grand Duke Alexander Jogailaitis, and Elizabeth and Barbora, two of the wives of Sigismund Augustus. There is also the urn containing the heart of Grand Duke Vladoslav Vasa.
In another part of the crypt, an early fresco, The Crucifixion, was discovered only in 1985. Its date has been estimated as the end of the 14th century, and thus it is the oldest wall painting in the country. Painted in the fresco secco technique, it shows Christ, Mary and St John.
8. The Church of St Peter and St Paul
St Peter and Paul’s Church is a masterpiece of the 17th-century Baroque famous for its exceptional interior where one can see about 2,000 stucco figures. Legend has it that there was a temple of the pagan goddess Milda on this site. Once there was a wooden church there, which was destroyed during the time of wars with Moscow. The present Church was built by Hetman Mykolas Kazimieras Pacas who wanted to perpetuate Vilnius liberation from Russians. The Church acquired its present appearance in 1676, later it was adorned with stucco, frescoes. At the beginning of the 19th century its Rococo pulpit was made. To commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II to Lithuania and Vilnius, the square in front of the church was named after him.
9. The Ensemble of the Church of St Anne and the Church of St Francis and St Bernardino
One of the most impressive architectural masterpieces of the Vilnius Old Town is Šv. Onos (Saint Anne’s) Church, built in the late 15th–early 16th centuries. This is the most outstanding and enchanting Late Gothic building in Lithuania. It is constructed from 33 different kinds of clay bricks, presented an astounding example of the inventiveness and boldness of the master masons of the time. Legend has it that Napoléon Bonaparte was enchanted by the church’s beauty, and he wished that he could magically transport it to Paris in the palm of his hand.
Šv. Pranciškaus ir Bernardino (Saints Francis and Bernardine) Church, commonly referred to as the Bernardine Church, was built at the end of the 15th century. It is one of the largest Gothic sacred buildings in Lithuania. Later the church was incorporated into the city’s defensive structures, which is why it has guard towers with archers’ holes. After rebuilding in the 16th–17th centuries the church took on aspects of Renaissance and Baroque style. The church is currently undergoing restoration, and archaeological investigations are taking place simultaneously.
10. The Gates of Dawn
The Gates of Dawn is one of the most visited shrines in Vilnius that is famous not only in Lithuania but also abroad, worshipped by the representatives of other creeds too. This is the only surviving gate of the first original five gates in the city wall that was built between 1503 and 1522. The gates were first mentioned in 1514. At first the Gates of Dawn were called the Medininkai Gate, as it is on the road to Medininkai, in Polish Ostra Brama, the “Sharp Gate” because they were in the southern end of the city, which was called the Sharp. Later, due to the cult of the Virgin Mary they could be related to the sunrise, dawn. The painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, in the Chapel of the Gates of Dawn is known all over the world. Many churches in other countries have copies of this painting. The picture, which is also called “Vilnius Madonna”, was painted in 17th century. It is painted in the renaissance style, in tempera on oak boards, later repainted in oil. Since the middle of the 17th century it has been said to have miracle-working powers. The Holy Mother of God of the Gates of Dawn has been granted the title of Mother of Mercy twice.
11. The Museum of Genocide Victims
The Museum of Genocide Victims was founded in 1992. This is the only museum of this kind in the Baltic States founded in the same building where Soviet repressive institutions of NKVD and NKGB-MGB-KGB operated from the second half of 1940 right to August of 1991. The basement of the building houses the inside prison-isolator (special prison in the USSR for political detainees and espionage suspects) in which Lithuanian residents who were in disfavour with the occupation authorities were imprisoned from the autumn of 1940 right to 1987. Visitors can become acquainted with the exposition mounted in the place were death sentences were carried out. The former office of the Deputy Chief of the MGB (KGB) inside the prison, located on the ground floor of the Museum, displays documents, photographs, maps and other things showing the process of sovietisation of the country in 1940-1941. The exhibition devoted to the guerrilla war in 1944-1953 will acquaint the visitors with the territorial structure of partisan formations and military organisation, aspirations of fighters for freedom, their everyday life and activities. The exposition Nelygi kova (Unequal struggle) reveals the NKVD-NKGB struggle against armed resistance. At the present time the expositions Lietuvos gyventojai gulage: 1944-1956 (Lithuanians in the GULAG: 1944-1956) and Trėmimai: 1944-1953 (Deportations: 1944-1953) are being completed to be mounted on the first floor of the Museum.
12. The Presidential Palace
This building is of the late Classical – the empire style (the 19th century). From the time of Lithuania’s conversion to Christianity, in 1387, to the country’s annexation by the Russian Empire in 1795, this was the site of the Bishop of Vilnius’s palace. It was taken over as a residence by the Russian governor; and in 1812, when the French army marched through, Emperor Napoleon of France stayed here. In 1997 it was converted for use as the President’s Office.
13. The Republic of Užupis
Užupis is one of the oldest districts of Vilnius, mentioned in the historical sources as far back as the 16th century. Once it was called the “salt road” to Polock. In olden times it was the suburb where the poor and mainly craftsmen, lived. There were many mills and at one time it was even the brothel district.
Today Užupis is a “unique republic”! A colourful and alive island, separated from the city by the Vilnia River. Užupis is a recognised district for artists and won the name of the most mysterious and romantic district of Vilnius. Užupis is the artists’ “republic”, which has its own constitution, national anthem, calendar and map. It also has its President, Prime Minister, Ambassadors from many countries of the world, military force (consisting of 12 people), a bishop, two churches, the Bernardino cemetery, which is the oldest cemetery in Vilnius, seven bridges and a wonderful patron saint– the bronze Užupis Angel erected in its main square…
Užupis has its honorary citizens. They are such famous people as his Holiness, the Dalai Lama, President of the Republic of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus, artist Jonas Mekas and many others. Užupis has its own holidays – the Day of Užupio Independence, the Day of the Fish, the Day of Traps, the Day of White Tablecloths, etc., as well as its own traditional way of celebrating these holidays.
If you walk along the banks of the Vilnia River, you will be sure to come across artists working there. Passers-by are invited to have a try at the various kinds of art, like photography and painting, or to take part in an evening of summer cinema or exhibitions.
Some works of art have become symbols of Užupis:
The Užupis Angel. This is a sculpture placed on an 8.5-meter high column, which was unveiled in the Užupis Square in 2001. The Angel, created by sculptor Romas Vilčiauskas and architect Algirdas Umbrasas, is made of brass and bronze.
The Užupis Mermaid. This is a bronze sculpture by Romas Vilčiauskas that can be seen on the bank of the Vilnia River at the Užupis Bridge and near the café. In 2004, the mermaid was swept away by the rising water of the river. However, the sculpture was recovered and returned to its place.
One can find many interesting places and corners in Užupis. One of them is the Užupis Bridge where lovers hang padlocks with their names engraved on them. The padlock is believed to tie and strengthen the hearts of two young people in love.
14. The Television Tower
The Television Tower is one of the tallest buildings in Eastern Europe. It is 326,5 metres high. A photographic exhibition devoted to fourteen unarmed civilians who were killed during the tragic events of 13 January 1991 is mounted on the ground floor. Crosses and monuments near the entrance perpetuate one of the country’s biggest fights for independence. The tower is open to visitors: a lift takes them in 45 seconds up to an observation platform. This is a circular room (at the height of 165 metres), which revolves slowly, taking about one hour to complete one revolution. There is a café, and viewers can appreciate a spectacular view of Vilnius and even of the panorama of the surrounding countryside within the radius of 50 kilometres.
15. The Town Hall
The first Town Hall was built in this place as far back as the 15th century. In its time the magistrate was housed here, the court held its sittings, the treasury, the archives, and arms were kept here. The present Town Hall was constructed at the end of the 18th century by the Classical architect Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevičius. The Town Hall Square has always been the economic, administrative and social centre of the city. Important trade roads led to the Square, which in turn became the streets of the city.
16. Vilnius University
Vilnius University is situated to the West of Daukanto aikštė and takes up a whole block in the Old Town between Šv. Jono, Skapo and Universiteto streets. The buildings are a collection of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical styles. The campus is arranged around twelve closed courtyards. The most prominent features of the Great Courtyard are the tallest Church of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist (the 14th – 18th centuries) and the tallest bell tower. Vilnius University is one of the oldest universities in Eastern Europe. The University started from a Collegium, which was established by the Order of the Jesuits who came to Lithuania to fight against the spreading Reformation. In 1579, Stephen Bathory, the elected King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, conferred on it the status of university. The Library of the University, established in 1570, stores especially rich collections of old and rare publications, the first printed books and maps.
17. Vilnius Picture Gallery
The Vilnius Picture Gallery was founded in 1956. The first exposition was on display at Vilnius Cathedral from 1956 to 1989. In 1994 the Gallery was transferred into the Chodkevičius (noblemen of Lithuania) Mansion, which, at the present time, is one of the most interesting ensembles of the style of Classicism in Lithuania. The exposition of the Gallery consists of historical interiors (six introductory halls) and 17 exhibition halls, where Lithuanian art of the 16th- the beginning of the 20th century is on display. The introductory halls of the first floor show what the interior of the mansion looked like, and the development of Lithuanian art is given its fullest showing in the main part of the exposition. The Centre for Art Education of the Lithuanian Art Museum, which prepares special educational art programmes for children and students is also located at the Vilnius Picture Gallery.
18. Stiklių, Žydų, Gaono Streets
These streets formed part of the mediaeval Jewish Quarter, which lay west of Didžioji Street, as far as Dominikonų and Vokiečių streets. During World War II (until 1941) there was an area known as the “Jewish Ghetto” centred on Stiklių, Gaono, Antokolskio and Žydų streets, housing around 11,000–12,000 people, a mixture of intelligentsia, manual workers and unemployed people.
In Žydų Street there was the Principal Synagogue, which accommodated about 3000–5000 worshippers. Eighteen Torah scrolls were kept there. Alongside was the prayer house of the Gaon, the famous Strašūnas Library, and other buildings of religious significance belonging to the Synagogue. All this was destroyed by the Soviet occupation régime. Today the site of the Principal Synagogue is home to a kindergarten, and alongside, where the house of the Gaon stood, there is a monument to him. The narrow and crooked little streets with arches spanning them have kept their original character. In Stiklių and Gaono streets some of the earliest houses are still there, albeit in some cases modified to restore their earlier architecture.
19. Museum of Applied Arts
At present, the ever increasing majority of the exhibition is taken up by unique treasures of old art donated by various countries or acquired specifically for the interior of the reconstructed Royal Palace.
20. Vilnia Gaon Jewish State Museum
This museum safeguards the historical, material and spiritual heritage of Lithuanian Jews and traditional and modern Jewish art items. It accumulates documents and items related to the holocaust; organises mobile exhibitions and contributes to cherishing the Jewish culture and traditions. The museum has five divisions: four in Vilnius and a memorial museum of the famous sculptor Chaim Jacob Lipshitz (1891-1973) in Druskininkai.
Food is one of the true joys of life. The largest cities feature many of the world's finest cuisines. Whether you wish to have a quick snack or eat out in style, it is always for you to choose: beer pubs deep down in the basement or out in the sunshine, cafes frequented by bohemia, youngsters or elegant public; luxurious restaurants decorated in a retro style or boasting modern interiors; a country-style seklyčia offering traditional food or an exotic dining establishment reminding us of the Soviet-era canteens. Smaller villages may lack some of the sophistication but they will definitely offer at least some European and national dishes. As far as Lithuanian beers are concerned, selected Lithuanian brews consistently win gold medals in the world beer competitions.
The night belongs to fun hunters. Choose live jazz or rock bands, vocal or instrumental performances, guitar or violin tunes – it is absolutely your call! Surrender yourself to the groovy beat of Latino or local folk music. It is the discos where the real passion and dancing spree goes, where the best western DJs are frequent guests. Night bars and clubs feature exciting night shows and peculiar striptease performances. Visit at least one casino and find out for real whether Lithuania is the gambler's paradise. After all, the country lies in the very heart of Europe.
Welcome to Lithuania:)
Part of the Vilnius, Lithuania 2007 - 2008 travel blog
Part of the list THINGS TO DO IN VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
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