Vilnius what to see: The capital of Lithuania has a charm of its own. Art, culture, parties, a lot of vitality and a large student population characterize this lively and fast growing town. Vilnius is certainly capable of surprising and winning the hearts of those who visit it.
Vilnius what to see
Vilnius, as you will notice, is a beautiful city and dotted with churches (there are about 40 churches in Vilnius).
despite this, the city is still modern, with skyscrapers, shopping malls and trendy shops, night clubs, numerous artists and a truly contemporary atmosphere. Neris River the city, the old part is to the south, while the modern and financial districts are to the north.
The historic center of Vilnius
Cathedral-Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. stands out Vladislaus , which today represents the Catholic spiritual center par excellence of Lithuania.
It has remote origins (it was initially built in the 13th century) and, according to scholars, the cathedral was built on the remains of an ancient pagan temple. Some notable people in Lithuanian history are buried inside it: such as King Alexander of Poland , Vytatutas the Great , Queen Elisabeth of Austria and the urn with the heart of King Vladislovas Vaza .
The large square in front ( Katedros aikštė ) represents the center and vitality of the city and is often crowded with people and tourists.
Behind the cathedral rises the Gedimino hill on which the castle tower is located. Here the greyness of the city gives way to a beautiful green park, on top of which is the Gedimino Tower , symbol of Lithuania, dedicated to the Grand Duke Gediminas , who is considered the founder of the city. The tower is the only intact part of the ancient castle of Vilnius, which was destroyed by Russian troops in 1802: from its top it is possible to enjoy a beautiful panoramic view over the whole city.
From the castle starts the road that crosses the historic center ( Pilies and Didžioji gatvė ) and allows you to reach the Town Hall square and further on the Gate of Dawn (Aušros Vartų 12), the only gate left standing of the ten that in in the past they allowed access to the city. Next door, in a small neoclassical-style chapel, is a depiction of the Madonna dating back to the 17th century. Pilies gatve is one of the oldest streets in the old town and is one of the busiest, full of restaurants and bars. The road cuts through the entire centre, from the cathedral square to the Town Hall square. And then all around the bell towers of Catholic churches and domes of the Orthodox ones, in the midst of all well-kept houses with soft colors. A tip to see and enjoy the historic center of Vilnius is to get lost in its streets. Here you will find narrow streets, shops, antique dealers, stalls and restaurants.
The city of Vilnius is dotted with religious buildings. Notable ones include the Church of St. Anne , the Church of St. Peter and Paul (Šv. Petro ir Povilo bažnycia), the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit (Šv. Dvasios cerkve ir Vilniaus staciatikiu vienuolynas) and the Church of Saint Casimir (Šv. Kazimiero bažnycia).
St. Anne's Church , located in Vilnius Old Town, is a masterpiece in Flamboyant Gothic (14th century movement characterized by accentuation of details, lengthening of gables and tops of arches), built in 1500 in honor by Ona, Grand Duchess of Lithuania and wife of Vytautas the Great .
The church is inscribed together with Vilnius Old Town on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites . The structure was built with the use of 33 different types of bricks. A well-known legend has it that Napoleon Bonaparte , during the Russian campaign, on seeing the building, would have declared that he wanted to place the church in the palm of his hand and take it all the way to Paris.
Also in the historic center is the University of Vilnius , which, built in the second half of the sixteenth century, is among the oldest in Europe.
Vilnius Town Hall Square is the historic city square. The Town Hall ( Vilniaus rotušė ) looks like a large neoclassical building and is used only for institutional visits. The square in front, triangular in shape, is located at the end of Didžioji gatvė and Pilies Street, and is always crowded with markets and stalls of all kinds. During the night the square lights up and offers splendid plays of light.
More modern Vilnius can be reached by taking Gedimino prospektas , a large avenue that starts from the cathedral and is lined with trees, luxurious shops and beautiful buildings. Gedimino prospektas is also the shopping and nightlife , thanks to the presence of numerous boutiques but also wine bars, breweries and restaurants.
Also located on the boulevard is the old KGB headquarters , now a genocide museum .
The building has a long and infamous history. In fact, from 1899 to 1991 it was used for various functions, including: courthouse of the tsarist regime, German administrative building, Lithuanian army recruiting station, Bolshevik commissariat and revolutionary tribunal, Polish court of justice, men's institute, headquarters of the NKVD, headquarters of the Gestapo and finally the headquarters of the KGB. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 to 18 and Sunday from 10 to 17. Admission costs 6 Lt. On the ground floor there is an exhibition dedicated to the history of the Soviet occupation, on the first floor there are rooms dedicated to political prisoners, while in the basement you can visit the places of torture of the KGB.
The area north of the river is dominated by the skyscraper district, in which the Europa tower and the TV .
The TV Tower , located in the Karoliniškės , west of the Old Town, has a height of 326 meters and a weight of 25,000 tons. It is a real monument and testimony of the Soviet era in Vilnius (it was built between the years '74 and '80), and it is certainly worth a visit for its grandeur and for the panoramic view that can be enjoyed on its top. If you come during the Christmas holidays you will find the tower decorated with lots of lights, like a Christmas tree!
Paukščių Takas (the Milky Way)
panorama bar and restaurant From here you can enjoy a spectacular view of Vilnius and the neighboring province: moreover, the tables and sofas are located on a rotating platform that allows you to enjoy the 360-degree panorama. The price for admission is 21 litas, equivalent to 6 Euros, and entry hours are from 10 to 22. Outside the entrance is a small museum commemorating the 14 unarmed civilians who were shot down by Soviet tanks on January 13, 1991.
To reach the TV Tower you can take bus N°54 or trolleybus N°16 from the station, or the N°11 from Luskikiu square. The most comfortable way is still the taxi.
In the modern district of Vilnius, skyscrapers and shopping centers stand out, but there is no shortage of green spaces and gardens. To the west of the city lies Vingis park, the largest city park in Vilnius, where you can relax surrounded by greenery and you can visit the large open-air amphitheater where concerts usually take place (among the big international stars who have played/sung here are Lady Gaga, Andrea Bocelli, Elton John, Bjork, Sting, Rod Stewart and Depeche Mode).
The Republic of Uzupis
Užupis is a district of Vilnius, located near the historic center, on the opposite side of the Vilnia River (Užupis in fact means "on the other side of the river" ), declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The district, one of the oldest suburbs of Vilnius, has long been populated by artists, and has been compared to Montmartre in Paris and Christiania in Copenhagen, thanks to its bohemian atmosphere and the numerous young creatives who reside there. Uzupis was once a seedy neighborhood, crowded with prostitutes and various criminals, but since the 1990s, artists and intellectuals have begun to settle, who have literally given new life to the place, transforming it into a trendy neighborhood. Now you can see numerous ateliers and workshops of painters, potters and sculptors.
On 1 April 1997, to redeem itself from the bad reputation of the past, the neighborhood declared itself the Independent Republic of Užupis . Uzupis is therefore a district of Vilnius but also a republic with its anthem, its national day, its flags and its holidays: but don't worry, you don't need documents to cross its borders because you just need to cross the bridge that crosses the river Vilna, located behind the church of Santa Anna. Independence Day falls every first of April and attracts a flood of visitors: I highly recommend you drop by if you happen to be in Vilnius during this period.
The symbols of the neighborhood are a bronze angel and a little mermaid, both created by the sculptor Romas Vilciauskas . Legend has it that the siren attracts tourists and onlookers to Uzupis and whoever surrenders to her charms will stay here forever.
CURRENCY: The currency in Lithuania is the LITAS . 1 Euro corresponds to approximately 3.45 litas.
ATTRACTIONS OUTSIDE VILNIUS: The Hill of Three Crosses , Trakai Castle .