Vilnius: Sights of the Lithuanian capital
Lithuania’s capital is a city full of charm, starting with its Old Town, a UNESCO heritage site. Take a walk through the historic center and admire the palaces, fine streets, churches, and historic districts. An explosion of colors and styles, from Gothic to Baroque to Neoclassical. But there aren’t many attractions in Vilnius. Let’s discover them together!
Take a funicular ride up to admire the remains of Vilnius Castle, namely the Gedimin Tower. Historians have found ancient mentions of the legendary castle that testify to its importance in the history of the Baltic capital. The castle was built in the ninth century and has been the home of the Grand Duke of Lithuania since 1323, serving for many years as a key point of defense for Vilnius. In 1400, it was almost completely destroyed by fire. The tower you can admire now is just a reconstruction made in 1960 and turned into an archaeological museum.
A bird’s-eye view of Vilnius Castle
A marvelous view of the capital and its surroundings. The national flag hoisted on the tower has a great symbolic value: over the centuries it was torn down first by the Poles, then by the Nazis and the Russians, but Lithuanians have always found it difficult to move their banner.
Trakai Island Castle
A castle that seems to float on the surface of a lake and tells a fascinating story: this manor house on Trakai Island is accessible by a path that connects the area to the mainland. Built in 1400, this was a strategic stronghold of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Nowadays there is a museum here, where among the ceramics and traditional clothes you can find out how the nobility of that period lived.
Stunning view of Trakai castle in Vilnius, Lithuania
There is also a collection of stuffed animals, and outside you can try your hand at crossbow and longbow shooting. Trakai Island is about thirty kilometers from Vilnius.
St. Anne’s Church
A church as a sign of love: the church of St. Anne, a symbol of a very romantic history. A gift that King Vitovt decided to give to his wife Anna. It was built in 1394, but the church underwent several alterations in 1582, and then in 1900. Its bold Gothic style, red bricks, towers and recognizable facade make it a popular tourist attraction.
St. Anne’s Church, a Gothic-style church in Vilnius
Gothic elements here, for example, are enclosed in rectangular frames, which create a sense of order and dynamism. The building was built using 33 different kinds of painted bricks, while the interior has a single nave and is enriched with Baroque elements.
Legend has it that it was the first church dedicated to Catholicism: Dedicated to Saints Ladislaus and Stanislaus, the cathedral was built between 1779 and 1793 in the neoclassical style. The portico has six columns with an ornate pediment depicting Noah’s Ark.
The Roman Catholic Cathedral in Vilnius, Lithuania
The interior is austere and ornate, divided into three naves with cross vaults and a splendid baroque chapel dedicated to San Casimiro. Its picturesque bell tower, which stands apart from the cathedral, is an eye-catcher. Between the church and the bell tower there is a special stone (Stebuklas, “miracle”), which, according to folk legend, grants any wish if you walk around it three times.
This is the main square of the old city of Vilnius, it stretches in front of the cathedral and is the main place of life for city dwellers. Military parades, religious events, plays and concerts are held here. At Christmas time, the tallest Christmas tree in the city is usually erected.
New Year’s Eve Celebration on Vilnius Cathedral Square
The church was built in 1800 as part of a project to reconstruct the entire area. One of the main attractions here is the monument to Gediminas, the first Grand Duke of Lithuania, made of marble and bronze.
From here you can admire an incredible and suggestive panorama, which recalls a centuries-old legend that has become a symbol of liberty. According to tradition, the three crosses of Vilnius are located in Kalnai Park, where Franciscan monks from the nearby monastery were murdered at the will of Grand Duke Algirdas of Lithuania. The story goes that 7 worshippers were killed and another 7 tied to crosses and thrown into the river.
One of the attractions of Vilnius is the monument “Three Crosses
The current crosses are not the original crosses from the 1400s because they have been destroyed several times over the centuries, most recently at the hands of the Soviet authorities, in 1950. The ones we see now were carved in 1989 just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The ascent to the hill is a walk in nature, which can be tiring, especially if it rains.
This 327-meter tall building has been towering over Vilnius since 1980. TV Tower has become a national symbol. It is decorated during every important event. From here, of course, you have a unique view of Vilnius and the surrounding area. You can visit the lower floors and then take the elevator up.
A picturesque view of the Vilnius TV tower
On the first floor there is an exhibition devoted to Lithuania’s fight for independence, in commemoration of the 14 civilians who died in the uprising against the Soviet army. High-speed elevators take you to an observation deck with a unique restaurant with a rotating floor.
What to see in the surrounding area
There is much to see in Lithuania, starting with seaside villages such as Palanga and Vente, gems of ancient Prussian territories. Also charming is Klaipeda, the starting point to reach the Curonian Spit, a strip of land that separates the Baltic Sea from the Kuri Bay. Protected area, declared a World Heritage Site, offers more than 100 kilometers of beaches and pine forests, home to many endangered species.