Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sightseeing in Vilnius (I)

Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania. I was born in Vilnius and I have lived here all my life. So I know it very well and I can give you advice what sights are really worth seeing.
Vilnius is a beautiful city with a cozy small old town. The population of Vilnius is only about 0.5 million, so Vilnius is very different from megacities. Foreigners who come to Vilnius say that it is very clean and very green. There are many parks and green areas in Vilnius, even in the center of the city. Vilnius is also surrounded by woods. I live in the outskirts of Vilnius, so in a few minutes I can reach a forest. I am really very happy that it’s so easy in Vilnius to get away from noise and rush of the city.
Here is a photo of Vilnius for you to see how green is the capital of Lithuania:

Now I will tell you about the places in Vilnius which you must see. All sights described in this blog and in Sightseeing in Vilnius (II) are in the center and in the old town of Vilnius so you can easily reach all of them by foot in a day.

Gediminas Tower
Gediminas Tower is a symbol of Vilnius. It is on the hill in the heart of the city near the Cathedral. Gediminas Tower is the remains of a castle. The castle here first time was build in 14th century by Duke Gediminas. It was later destroyed and rebuilt. Now Gediminas Tower is a museum, but the best thing about it is that you can climb on the roof and see the best panoramic view of Vilnius! Trust me, it is worth seeing!
You can climb to Gediminas hill on foot or take a funicular. The gates and the path to the Tower is on that side of the hill where the park is. You’ll see it, it’s not hard to find. Just remember that gates are closed at night, so don’t stay on the hill till late hours! The funicular can be reached from the opposite side of the hill than the path up, address is Arsenalo street 5 (this street is near the river Neris).

Cathedral and Cathedral Square
The Cathedral of Vilnius is the main Roman Catholic church in Lithuania. The Cathedral in this place first time was built in 13th century by Lithuanian King Mindaugas. During the centuries it was several times destroyed by fire, storms and wars. The present Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece of classicism style built in 18th century. Inside the Cathedral you can see many interesting frescoes and paintings.
I recommend you to visit the catacombs of the Cathedral where famous historical personalities are buried. But visitors are allowed attend only guided tours booked in advance.
The Cathedral Square is the main square in Vilnius. Near The Bell Tower, which is located in the Square, couples often meet on dates. It’s a romantic place…
The Cathedral Square is also famous for its magic brick in pavement. Step on it, turn around three times, make a wish and it will come true. It works, I have tried!
Here is a photo of the Cathedral and Cathedral Square:

Pilies street
Pilies street is the most famous and lively street in Vilnius old town. Here you can find many caffes, restaurants, souvenirs shops and kiosks. And if you go up Pilies street, you will reach the Town Hall.

Gediminas Avenue
Gediminas Avenue is the main street in Vilnius. It begins near Cathedral Square and ends near the Parliament. If you go up this street you will also see Kudirkos Square and Lukiskes Square.

Vilnius University
Vilnius University is the oldest and the largest Lithuanian higher education institution. It was founded in 1579. The old buildings of Vilnius University is located in Universiteto street 3 (it is in the old town, not far away from the Cathedral). You must see the yards of Vilnius University! And go inside the building! The atmosphere there is absolutely amazing!
Funny story my friend, who studied in the old buildings of Vilnius University, told: the present cafeteria once was a morgue. Have a nice meal!
Here are some pictures of Vilnius University:

More sights  are described in my blog post Sightseeing Vilnius (II).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice blog!