14 places to visit in Vilnius

A Lithuania is the oldest state of the Baltic, having been founded by the Pope in 1251. His story has not been easy, having been occupied along the centuries until finally in 1990, they declared an independent state. The 2oth world War I, was one of the most troubled in its history, having been occupied first by Poland, then, in an agreement between Germany and the USSR, by Russia, then, during World War II, by Germany, and finally, in the post-War, again by the USSR.

The historical area of Vilnius, the Old Town, is one of the largest in Europe (about 1.5 km long) and is considered Unesco heritage in 1994. Another of its unique features is to be one of the historical centres with the largest number of churches. When looking at the city from above, we can observe many towers, steeples and arrows that stand out in the skies of the city. They Are at least 1 19 only in the Old area, all with their personality and with some characteristic that deserves prominence.

1. Vilnius Cathedral

Is the most important place of worship for Catholics in Lithuania, although it was built in 1251 on the site of a pagan temple. Its Neoclassical façade reminds the ancient Greek temples and in its interiors stands out the Baroque Chapel of S. Casimir, with marble columns, stucco colourful figures. It almost looks like a chapel of an Italian church. Outside, the pavement shows still marks Of the defensive wall that protected the Royal Palace. The square also has as attraction the campanile part of the original fortifications of the city, whose entrance was situated in the place where the capital is now located. And since you’re looking at the floor take a look at a kind of built-in tile that has the inscription Miracle. The legend said that giving three laps around it makes the desires come true.

2. Upper Castle

Residency of the Grand-Du in Lithuania, located on Gediminas Hill, the oldest part of Vilnius and the place where the city was founded. The best way to discover Vilnius is to climb the Castle Tower, with 48m Height, has one of the best views of the city.  

3. Museum of Genocide Victims or KGB Museum

Used by the infamous KGB As headquarters between 1940 e 1991. In addition to the KGB also the Gestapo used this building as headquarters in 1941 and 1944, although very few references of this occupation. The detailed exhibitions show the Soviet oppression of the Lithuanian people, post-World War II movement of Lithuanian resistance and the mass deportations for Siberia. The basement is the area of the ancient prison cells and of the torture rooms.

4. Gates of Dawn

The Gate of Dawn is one of the most visited shrines in Vilnius and one of the most unusual. It is located above one of the city gates. The chapel was born in the centenary tradition of building a chapel at every entrance gate to protect the city from its enemies and protect travellers. This door is the only survivor of the five originals That surrounded Vilnius between 1503 and 1522. The chapel guards a painting of Madonna of Mercy known worldwide. Pilgrims from all over the world come here to pay tribute to the image, claimed to have miraculous powers.

5. Vilnius University

The oldest university in Eastern Europe, founded in 1568. It Is fascinating by the different architectural styles that make up its construction, as for its size that includes 12 courtyards, one of which harbouring the also impressive church of St. John whose bell tower with almost 70m high is the tallest of the Old City.

6. Presidential Palace

It is a building really worthy of a king, by its impressive façade and dimension. Perhaps that is why you have already received such illustrious figures as Napoleon Bonaparte or Tsar Alexandre I.

7. Artillery Bastion

Built as part of the city’s defensive wall in the 17th century. During his history, it was used as an orphanage, as recycle bin, as a warehouse to store the ammunition of German troops during World War II and as a warehouse for storing vegetables during the Soviet evasion. It has one of the best views of the Uzupis District.

8. St. John’s Church

One of the many churches of Vilnius it was built on the grounds of the Vilnius University and has a name worthy of the High Nobility: Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. Its construction lasted almost 40 years and was completed in 1426. At that time it was a gothic building. In 1571 the church was transferred to the Jesuit Order and became a part of the university complexes. During the Soviet occupation was transformed into a warehouse and in 1993 received the maximum honour for a Catholic Church, a visit by the Pope John Paul II.

9. St Ana Church

A gothic masterpiece. A local legend claims that Napoleon Bonaparte was so fascinated by his beauty that he wanted to take her back to Paris, in the palm of his hand. Unfortunately, the reality is not so romantic. During the march of the Napoleonic Army through Lithuania, the church was handed over to the French cavalry forces. The church managed to survive for more than 5 centuries and reached until now almost intact.

10. Church of St. Francis of Assis

Right next to the Church of Santa Ana is the Church of Saint Francis of Assis best known for church Bernardina. The building is monumental and in case of necessity, could be used for defence. During the Soviet occupation, the church was closed and transformed into a warehouse. The Bernardin complex was declared a Lithuanian cultural heritage in 2008.

11. Church of the Holy Spirit 

One of the oldest and most richly decorated churches in Vilnius. It is Estimated that the first church was born in this place still in the times of Gediminas, even before the conversion of the country to Christianity. The interior of the church is richly decorated with a profusion of false marble Rococo, Stuque, frescoes and paintings and its interior is one of the most valuable of all the churches in Lithuania. There is an abundance of decoration, with 16 separate altars, an important organ, perhaps the only almost original instrument of the 18th century, 45 paintings, being the but famous the “A Compassion of God”.

12.Basilian Monastery of the Holy Trinity

With mixed architectural styles, with elements of Gothic, Baroque and Russian Byzantine. The first church on the site was built to mark the place where three Lithuanian martyrs were torture. The legend says that in 1347 the wife of the  Grand Duke Algirdas Julian makes a wooden Orthodox church in his honour.

13. Orthodox Church of S. Michael and S. Constantino

With the interior and exterior fanciful and Luxuriously decorated. It is one of the most beautiful Orthodox churches in Vilnius, also known as the Romanov Church, was built in 1913.

14. Other highlights:

A Frank Statue Zappa: The first statue of the Californian rock star was put here by a group of local artists who in 1993 sought to test the boundaries of the new and independent Lithuania. To his astonishment, the statue was approved, and there has been since that date.

Uzupis: This area of the city is characterised by its hidden terraces, narrow streets and art galleries. The artists who lived there declared independence in 1997. Now they have even their own flag and Constitution affixed in a wall in the  Riverside street.

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