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The Church of St Peter and St Paul - St Peter and PaulÔÇÖs 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.
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 ┼áv. Onos (Saint AnneÔÇÖs) Church, built in the late 15th´┐Ż´┐Ż"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 Napol├ęon Bonaparte was enchanted by the churchÔÇÖs beauty, and he wished that he could magically transport it to Paris in the palm of his hand.
┼áv. Pranci┼íkaus 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 cityÔÇÖs defensive structures, which is why it has guard towers with archersÔÇÖ holes. After rebuilding in the 16th´┐Ż´┐Ż"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.
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 ÔÇťSharp GateÔÇŁ 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 ÔÇťVilnius MadonnaÔÇŁ, 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.
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 Tr─Śmimai: 1944-1953 (Deportations: 1944-1953) are being completed to be mounted on the first floor of the Museum.
The Presidential Palace - This building is of the late Classical ´┐Ż´┐Ż" the empire style (the 19th century). From the time of LithuaniaÔÇÖs conversion to Christianity, in 1387, to the countryÔÇÖs annexation by the Russian Empire in 1795, this was the site of the Bishop of VilniusÔÇÖs 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 PresidentÔÇÖs Office.
The Republic of U┼żupis - U┼żupis 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 ÔÇťsalt roadÔÇŁ 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 U┼żupis is a ÔÇťunique republicÔÇŁ! A colourful and alive island, separated from the city by the Vilnia River. U┼żupis is a recognised district for artists and won the name of the most mysterious and romantic district of Vilnius. U┼żupis is the artistsÔÇÖ ÔÇťrepublicÔÇŁ, 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´┐Ż´┐Ż" the bronze U┼żupis Angel erected in its main squareÔÇŽ
U┼żupis 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. U┼żupis has its own holidays ´┐Ż´┐Ż" the Day of U┼żupio 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 U┼żupis:
The U┼żupis Angel. This is a sculpture placed on an 8.5-meter high column, which was unveiled in the U┼żupis Square in 2001. The Angel, created by sculptor Romas Vil─Źiauskas and architect Algirdas Umbrasas, is made of brass and bronze.
The U┼żupis Mermaid. This is a bronze sculpture by Romas Vil─Źiauskas that can be seen on the bank of the Vilnia River at the U┼żupis Bridge and near the caf├ę. 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 U┼żupis. One of them is the U┼żupis 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.
The TV 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 countryÔÇÖs 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 caf├ę, and viewers can appreciate a spectacular view of Vilnius and even of the panorama of the surrounding countryside within the radius of 50 kilometres.
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-Gucevi─Źius. 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.
Verkiai and Pavilniai Regional Park - The Verkiai ensemble situated in an extremely attractive location on a ridge above the River Neris draws attention of residents of Vilnius and guests of the city. This is a Classical complex of palaces surrounded by a park. Many events are organised, state holidays are celebrated here. Weekend walking tours through the regional park and other environs of Vilnius start from the palace at Verkiai. One of the routes along a winding path runs between the lakes in ┼Żalieji e┼żerai (The Green Lakes). When travelling along the paths of the park at Verkiai you will have an opportunity to be become acquainted with the architectural values of the landscape. Vilnius Kalvarijos is an important local site of pilgrimage, which attracts large numbers of foreign guests and pilgrims. Vilnius Kalvarijos is an exceptional architectural-urban ensemble repeating the Stations of the Cross and merging with the natural landscape.
The heart of the Pavilniai Regional Park is the Vilnia valley. The P┼ź─Źkori┼│ escarpment is a unique geological monument. This is a rare geological feature, an exposure of Ice Age rock formations, created by erosion by the river. It is one of the biggest such rock exposures in the country. The escarpment itself is best examined from the valley floor. As far back as the 17th century there was a large, well-equipped munitions factory in front of the escarpment. Nearby you can also visit the site of the old water mill where there is a network of restaurants and entertainment Belmontas there today. In winter there is an open skating-rink there, next to it the Belmontas waterfalls cascade. Those who like an active rest can visit a stud farm and take out horses from the stables, enjoy a ride on four-wheeled motorcycles.
Next to the P┼ź─Źkoriai escarpment, on the bank of the Vilnia River, there is a sundial. People, who enjoy spending their time in nature, who like fishing, gather at the exposition of the Vilnia Sundial or at the Pu─Źkori┼│ dam. Visitors can take the route running along the Vilnel─Ś River from the P┼ź─Źkori┼│ dam. In spring and autumn the Administration of the Park invites visitors to go on walking tours.
While in the Pavilni┼│ Regional Park, you can also visit the Ribi┼íki┼│ labyrinth. A magnificent view opens from the Liepkalnis mountain next to Minskas highway. In winter the Liepkalnis mountain becomes especially popular with skiers.
The Vilnius Picture Gallery - It 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 Chodkevi─Źius (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.
Vilnius University - It is situated to the West of Daukanto aik┼ít─Ś and takes up a whole block in the Old Town between ┼áv. 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 ´┐Ż´┐Ż" 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.