Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sightseeing in Vilnius (II)

In my previous blog post I started writing about sights in Vilnius you must see. Now I will tell you about some more places worth visiting in the capital of Lithuania.

The Gates of Dawn
The Gates of Dawn was one of the gates of the city wall back in 16th century. The defensive city wall of Vilnius later was destroyed and now only some remains are left. The gates of Dawn are in a very beautiful part of the old town, so it is worth to go there to see not only this famous sight, but also the surrounding buildings.

The Chapel in the Gates of Dawn is famous for the painting of The Blessed Virgin Marry Mother of Mercy, which has miraculous powers. Pilgrims from other countries (mostly from Poland) come here to pray. You can read more about Gates of Dawn here.

The Barbican (Bastion of Vilnius Defensive Wall)
The Barbican is a defense building near the former city wall. The address is Boksto St 20/Subaciaus St 18. Now it’s closed for repairs. If it is open when you come to Vilnius, get inside the Barbican. You will see a historic exposition there. But the most fascinating thing is not an exposition, but the ambience in the building. Dark tunnels are scary and you can feel shivers in your body when you enter them. It is said that many people died here…
The hill near the Barbican is one of my favorite places in Vilnius. The view is fantastic! You can sit on the bench or on the grass and relax… In summer the area near the Barbican is very popular among the young people. They come here to meet friends and drink some beer. I also love spending time near the Barbican with my friends drinking wine. So if it’s a nice warm evening and you have a good company, I recommend coming here. But be careful because drinking alcohol in public places is illegal! I have never seen police near the Barbican though...

St.  Anne's Church and Church of St. Francis from Assisi (Bernardine)
If you go down the hill near Barbican and then turn left, you will come to the most beautiful gothic masterpiece in Lithuania (and in the world!) - Church of St.  Anne's. The legend says that Napoleon was so fascinated by the beauty of the Church, that he wanted to place St. Anne’s Church on his palm and move it to Paris.

Church of St. Francis from Assisi or Bernardine’s Church is right behind St. Anne’s Church. Bernardine’s Church dates back to the 15th century. It is not fully restored and the inside of the building is not very impressive, but the yard near the entrance to the church is very cozy and beautiful.
I love  Bernardine’s Church! It is the only church where I feel comfortable and where I want attend masses. Why? It’s hard to explain. This Church is special. The priests, the people, the feeling… Something is different from other churches here. When you listen a sermon in Bernardine’s Church, you can feel that it’s actually reaching your heart. If you want to feel it yourself, come to English masses at 9 am on Sundays.
And in Christmas time they have Bethlehem with real animals: donkeys, sheep, goats etc. So it’s a fun for children.

Republic of Uzupis
After seeing churches mentioned above cross the river Vilnele and you will be in the other republic! That’s right, the district called Uzupis announced that they are an independent republic! They even put road signs on the streets telling that you are entering Republic of Uzupis (it’s not real of course…). It’s a bohemian place like Montmartre in Paris. In the centre of Uzupis you will find a famous statue of Angel.
Uzupis has many interesting stories and eccentric personalities. If you go along the river Vilnele you will see old houses with decorated walls, strange sculptures in the river and maybe you’ll meet some interesting people.
20 or 15 years ago Uzupis had many abandoned houses, now it is a prestigious place to live, so it changed a lot. But you can still find empty buildings and hear the stories about the ghosts. I don’t know if those buildings are really haunted, I don’t have courage to go anywhere near them at night…

Sts. Peter & Paul’s Church
Sts. Peter & Paul’s Church is the most famous Baroque building in Lithuania. Its white interior is really impressive. Pictures can give you better image than words:

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