Cycle Route The Baltic lakeland route
No. of cycle route LT3
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Added on 05 Jun 2011,
on 02 Jan 2021
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Dedeliški, Latgale, LV (151 m NHN)
Vilnius, Vilnius County, LT (93 m NHN)
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World Heritage Site
Old town/World heritage site
Vilnius (also known under its Polish and Yiddish name, Wilno and its German name, Wilna) is the capital and largest city of Lithuania. It lies on the bank of the Neris river and has approximately 560,000 inhabitants. Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture in 2009.
Inhabited since the Middle Ages, Vilnius has always been a multinational city with Polish, German, Jewish, Russian and Belorussian people making up a substantial share of its population. According to the last census of 2011, the population included 63.2% Lithuanians, 16.5% Poles, 12% Russians, 3.5% Belarusians, and 1.0% Ukrainians. During World War II, 80,000 Jews from Vilnius were murdered by the Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators at the forest of Paneriai and other nearby places. After the war, most of the urban Polish population was moved to Poland, while during 1950–1970 they were replaced by people from parts of Lithuania, neighbouring parts of Belarus, as well as Russia, Ukraine and other Soviet republics.
It is a district which has developed during Middle Ages as a city surrounded by a defensive wall. The urban structure reflects the development from ca. 14th century, the architecture of the buildings is mostly from late Renaissance to Classicism periods. There are 4 rather distinct areas of the Old Town: Castle complex with an old hill fort, Cathedral and newly reconstructed Ducal Palace, these all buildings and a Cathedral square form the very centre of the city; old Town Hall with its vicinity form the centre of the Old Town itself; "Užupis", a "subdistrict" separated by the Vilnia River (it reflects in its name, literally a "Place On The Other Side Of The River"); and the north-west area featured by Vilnius street, largely damaged during the WWII.
The most attractive part, historically known as a block of artisan guilds, in the beginning of WWII was turned into two Jewish ghettos, commonly known as Vilnius Ghetto. It operated until 24 Sept 1943. In 1994, the Old Town was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- ⊙Gediminas Castle (Climb up to it from the Cathedral Square or take the funicular on the other side of the hill, facing the river). The red-brick tower is restored from the Higher Castle erected in the 13th–14th centuries by Dukes of Lithuania. The top of the towers offer the best view of Vilnius.
- ⊙Three Crosses Hill. A monument to seven Franciscan friars that were tortured here by pagans before the conversion of Lithuania to Christianity. Also symbolizes the importance of Christianity to Lithuania. During night time it offers a great view.
- ⊙Vilnius Cathedral, Cathedral Square. 7:00-19:30. An original cathedral was built here in 1251. In 1387 a Gothic style cathedral was built. Now it is a classical style cathedral build by the project of Laurynas Gucevicius. The most beautiful part of the Cathedral, the baroque chapel of St. Casimir, was built in 1623–1636. The crypt shows a cross section of Vilnius through the ages, well worth seeing. You can also take a tour through the catacombs under the cathedral. 57m high belfry. Outside the Cathedral, in the square, look for a particular tile on which there is written a word "Stebuklas" (means "miracle" in Lithuanian). Stand on it, make a wish and turn around three times. Your wish should come true :) This tile also marks the end of the Vilnius-Tallinn human chain in the 1989 protest of the Soviet Union.
- ⊙Vilnius University, Universiteto street.3, ☎ +370 5 268 7103. 9:00-15:00. Vilnius University is famous for its library, 13 courtyards of various sizes, astronomical observatory, and the Church of St. John. Guided tour available in Lithuanian, English, Russian and Polish. Adult: €5.00, Student: €1.20.
- ⊙Literatu Gatve (Street), Literatu str. (starts near the home No 32 Pilies St). 24/7. Small artworks, dedications mounted on the walls. Dedications to the literature workers: writers, translators, everyone who has link with Lithuania and is important for Lithuanian or world literature. Artworks crafted in various outdoor-proof techniques: ceramics, sculpture, glass, wallpainting.
- ⊙St. Ann's Church (near Uzupis District). One of the most beautiful churches in Vilnius and in Lithuania. Very small in size, but a very beautiful example of Gothic architecture. There is a legend that when during his conquests Napoleon came to Vilnius and saw this church he said he would like to take it on his palm and bring to France.
Užupis District used to be a largely unrestored area primarily occupied by artists, dreamers, squatters, and drunks; however, the neighborhood is developing with a wealth of small shops and cafes. In 1998, the residents unofficially declared the area to be an independent republic, with its own president, anthem, flag, and constitution. Great to visit on April Fools day, when mock border guards stamp passports and the entire area erupts into a party.
- ⊙Angel of Uzupis Statue, Uzupio & Malunu gatve. Statue of an angel blowing a trumpet.
- ⊙St. Peter's and Paul's Church (trolley #2 or #20 from the bus/train station). Another shockingly beautiful church. Not so special from the outside, but extremely beautiful inside, with all the interior overcrowded with baroque sculptural works.
- Artillery Bastion of Vilnius Defensive Wall. Currently closed for reconstruction.
- ⊙Belfry of Saint John Church, Sv.Jono street.12. From the top of baroque style belfry, which is the tallest building in the old town, you can see an amazing panorama of the city.
- ⊙Museum of Genocide Victims aka KGB Museum, Aukų g. 2A, LT-01113 Vilnius, Lithuania, ☎ +370 5 249 8156. Wed-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM. Occupies the former KGB headquarters. The bottom bricks of the buildings have the names of those who were believed to be executed inside the building. Visit the former prisoner cells. Admission: 2€; 50% Discount for pupils, students and seniors. English-speaking Guide: 15€. (updated Apr 2015)
- ⊙National Museum of Lithuania, Arsenalo Str. 1, ☎ +370 5 262 9426. Tuesday-Sat: 10-18. Biggest and oldest source of national cultural heritage in the country, which systematically collects, stores, displays, and popularises the history of the state. Adult: €2; Child: €1.
- ⊙Contemporary Art Center, Vokieciu str. 2. There are always many extremely interesting modern art exhibitions.
- ⊙Old Arsenal Building, Arsenalo Str. 3.
- ⊙Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (Grand Dukes’ Palace), Katedros a. 4, LT-01143 Vilnius, ☎ +370 5 212 7476. Tuesday – Friday 11 am – 6 pm Saturday, Sunday and before national holidays 11 am – 4 pm. Closed on Mondays and national holidays. Last visitors admitted one hour before museum closing. In the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania there are two exhibition tour routes directly related to the historical functions of this residence. The first tour will show the historical and architectural development of the palace by highlighting the ancient ruins still in place, excavated artifacts and by using models and iconographic materials. The second tour route will bring the visitors into the ceremonial halls, which have been reconstructed in such a way as to show the evolution of architectural styles – from the late Gothic to the Renaissance to the early Baroque. Adults: 2,90€ Students, seniors: 1,45€. (updated Apr 2015)
Monuments & statues
- ⊙Frank Zappa Statue, Kalinausko str. 1 (west of Old Town). The first statue in the world for honoring this great musician. Erected in 1995 by the local Frank Zappa fan club. A replica of the statue has been erected in Baltimore . Free.
Parks & cemeteries
There is an interesting Jewish cemetery in Šeškinė that includes the grave of Vilna Gaon, a very important rabbi. By the entrance to Vingis park is a war cemetery with Russian, German, Hungarian, Polish and Turkish soldiers from both wars. Oldest cemeteries are Rasų and Bernardinų. Also Saulės kapinės (Cemetery of the Sun) in Antakalnis district.
In addition to the restaurants listed below, almost all of the bars in Vilnius serve reasonably priced good quality food.
- ⊙Amatininkų užeiga, Didžioji 19/2 (Town Hall square (Rotušės aikštė)), ☎ +370 5 261 7968. until 5:00. Lithuanian and international food.
- ⊙Fortas (Fort), Algirdo str. 17. Pub-style traditional Lithuanian food. Main courses: €5-10.
- ⊙Marceliukės klėtis, Tuskulėnų str. 35 (Žirmūnai district), ☎ +370 5 272 5087. Hearty portions of traditional Lithuanian food. €15.
- ⊙Čagino (Chagin's), Basanavičiaus str. 11 (New Town district). Named after the famous Russian architect Nikolai Chagin. Live Russian music played on a guitar. Main courses: €7-13.
- ⊙Ida Basar, Subačiaus str. 1 (In the guesthouse of the same name, at the southern end of Old Town), ☎ +370 5 262 8484. 12:00-22:00. Specializes in historical meals of Grand Duchy Of Lithuania, has a Culinary Heritage Museum. €30.
- ⊙Lokys, Stiklių str. 8 (Old Town, block of artisan guilds), ☎ +370 5 262 9046. Medieval restaurant. Specializes in Lithuanian traditional cuisine and game meals. €20.
- ⊙Medininkai, Aušros Vartų str. 8, ☎ +370 600 86491. Part of Hotel Europa Royale. 18th century Italian artwork and courtyard. Lithuanian fusion food. €30.
- ⊙Narutis Hotel - Cellar Restaurant, Pilies str. 24, ☎ +370 5 212 2894. Eastern European food. Live violin music Th-Sa. €30.
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Input taken over from:
Wikivoyage contributors, 'Vilnius', Wikivoyage, The FREE worldwide travel guide that anyone can edit, 21 April 2017, 11:56 UTC, <https://en.wikivoyage.org/w/index.php?title=Vilnius&oldid=3188849> [accessed 5 May 2017]
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