Vilnius City Guide travel tourist sightseeing attractions information

Vilnius City Guide Business Tourist Travel Information

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Vilnius History Overview

There are some historians who believe that Vilnius was originally the 13th century town Voruta. though Vilnius itself is first documented in 1323 when Germans and Jews began to settle in the city. The original walls of the city were built between 1503 and 1522 and included nine gates. In the following three decades the city built numerous houses within the city walls. In 1579 it opened the Vilnius University which was established a Europe wide reputation for its scientific courses and accelerated the city’s population growth. It became one of international and cultural cities in Northern Europe.

The Russian Polish War (1654 -1667) halted the city’s growth when Russia troops, massacred the towns folk and burned much of the city to the ground. The city was rebuilt. In 1795 the Russian invaded Vilnius again and this time with exception of the Dawn Gate all of the city wall and its gates where destroyed. In 1812 it was briefly occupied by the Napoleon’s French Army en route for Moscow. In November1831, following an uprising, the Russians closed the university and tighten their repressive hold on the city which now had a population of over 200,000. In January 1863 another uprising was quelled and hundreds of people were publicly hung. Civil liberties became history and the Lithuanian and Polish languages outlawed.

In 1915 during WW1 Germany occupied the city. At the end of the war it was retaken by the Russians, then captured by the Poles and then once more by the Russians. Finally in 1920 the retreating Red Army following its defeat in the Battle of Warsaw by treaty gave it back to Lithuania. Later that year after a coup organised by Poland it became a Polish territory again. When WW2 began in 1939 it was seized by the Russians who declared it as part of Lithuania in exchange for using it as a military base. In 1941 it was occupied by Germany until it was retaken by the Red Army in 1944. The Russians remained there until 1991.

Sightseeing and Attractions in Vilnius

Vilnius is spoilt with an array of cultural and artistic splendour for inquisitive tourists. From Churches to Museums and Parks you are likely to relish the opportunity to expand your knowledge of Eastern European culture and history. The Old Town Vilnius is one Eastern Europe’s largest Old Towns. Vilnius’s history and cultural heritage is embedded in the 1500 buildings that illustrate the influences of several centuries of architecture. Vilnius is often described as being a Baroque city but it also has many examples of, Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles.

For many visitors the Gediminas Castle and the Cathedral Square are prime examples of this city’s history and architecture as they are in the foreground of the Old Town. In reality they are only part of the story as behind these landmarks stands an intriguing Old Town which because of its its uniqueness, is  listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

European Park, Joneikiskiu Vilnius -n The European Park was founded by Lithuanian sculptor Gintaros Karosas. Its a renowned Park which entices many thousands of visitors every year. There is a restaurant shop and Post Office on site here. It’s located in the suburbs of Vilnius, a few miles to the North but is well worth the trip. 90 sculpture works are  showcased by artists from about 30 European countries. Opening times are daily from 10 am until sunset. admission fee is 25 LT’S Adults and 11 LT’s for Children. website

Jewish Memorials Genocide Museum, Agrastu 17 Vilnius – Vilnius was once known as the ”Jerusalem of the North” due to the fact that almost half of its population were actually Yiddish speaking Jews. The satanic Nazi’s invaded Vilnius and mass murdered as many as 60,000 Jews. The Genocide Museum has been established as a tribute to all the Jewish lives that were needlessly lost during World War II. They are currently in the process of attempting to rebuild the historic Jewish Quarter and tours of Jewish Vilnius are on offer courtesy of many private tour operators. Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum Mon-Fri 9 am till 1 pm. Exposition Of Holocaust 9 am till 5 pm and  9 am to 4 pm on Friday’s. Entry is free. website
Vilnius Cathedral, Katedros Square Vilnius – This splendid Cathedral is situated on the Central Square of Old City. The Roman Catholic cathedral was structured in  a style reminiscent of an Ancient Greek Temple. The Cathedral is one of the city’s proudest Landmarks. The Cathedral dates back to the 13th century when it was erected  and has undergone numerous renovations due to damage caused by fires and devastation caused by Storms. The highlight of this historical place of worship is the Casmir Chapel built in 1623 which was designed by visionary artist Constantino
Museum of Genocide / The KGB Museum, Victims Auku 2a Vilnius – This Museum takes an in depth look at the dictatorship of the Soviet KGB. It’s a collection of exhibits based ironically in what was the KGB’s Vilnius headquarters. Those who opposed the Soviet regime were tortured and murdered in this very building. The museum takes a detailed look at what life was truly like for these tragic figures who were victimised by a merciless army. For the most part it has been preserved in it’s original form. It includes a very chilling water torture cell and a former execution room which includes the remains of victims. Frightening. There is also an exhibition about the Soviet occupation of Lithuania.There are Guided Tours by English speakers. Open Tues-Sat  10 am till 5 pm Sunday 10 am till 3 pm. website
Gediminas Castle, Arsenalo Vilnius Castle Hill   g.5 tel no: 526-17453 –  This octagonal royal kingdom was built in the 13th century by the discoverer of this absorbing city. Early in its life Gediminas was utilized as a defensive front, it has also been used as a Prison and is now one of the City’s major Tourist attractions. The Castle was decimated by the Russians in the 17th century but after years of hard work was restored to its original splendour. The summit of the tower gives tremendous views of the city. There is a museum inside the Castle chronicling the history of both the city and country. There are various interesting exhibits housed within the grounds of Gediminas. Budding historians should not miss out Gediminas whilst vacationing in Vilnius. Admission is usually 2/5 LT. Open 10 am to 7 pm.
Hill Of The Three Crosses, Kalnu Parkas Vilnius The Hill of the Three Crosses is located  round the corner from Gediminas Castle. The Crosses are located on the top of a hill and are a memoriam to seven Franciscan Monks who were executed and  dumped in the Vilnia River. The Crosses were designed by Polish-Lithuanian architect and sculptor Antoni Wiwulski. The evil Soviet Regime  made sure they destroyed these crosses but luckily the City were able to  restore these sacred crosses in 1989 and they became a symbol of independence for the new country of Lithuania. Many enjoy taking reflective walks on the wooded Hillside.
TV Tower Vilnius, Sausio 13 Osios Gatve Vilnius Tel no: 245-8877 – The TV Tower is a 326.5 Metre Tower in the Karoliniskes area of the Lithuanian capital. It is the largest structure in all of Lithuania. The construction began in 1974 and was completed in 1980. The TV Tower played a pivotal role in the infamous events of January 13th 1991 when  13 brave and unarmed Civilians were tragically killed and as many as 700 injured in their attempts to  oppose the Soviet Armies control of the.Tower. There is a memorial on the ground floor of the tower to the people murdered and  around the outside of the tower are 13 black white photographs of those killed. Inside there is a small photographic exhibition of this event. Since the new Millennium this significant monument has been used as a giant Christmas Tree and is covered  with seasonal decorations, making for a quite magical  sight. There is a pleasant cafe at the top of the Tower where you can take in the breathtaking, panoramic views of the city.
Amber Museum and Gallery, SV Mykolo Gatve 8, Vilnius tel no: 37026-23092 ] – This beautiful Museum is situated in the Old Town and has an Amber Store downstairs and a Museum in the basement. Its a fairly small place which has some very informative and thought provoking exhibits. The Gallery is brimming with plenty of Stirling pieces of Jewellery made from Amber. You can learn more about the history of Baltic  amber and archaeology. This is not an attraction for all the family and I would suggest that children are likely to find it a little tedious. There is a gift shop on site which sells Amber Jewellery at rather expensive prices.  Admission is free and opening times are 10 am to 7 pm. website
The Presidential Palace at Daukanto aikste 3 (Tel 212 67 91) is a very impressive example of 14th century architecture. Amongst the famous who have slept here are Napoleon Bonaparte and Tsar Alexander 1. It is has recently been extensively renovated and refurbished and now serves as the official offices of the Lithuanian President.

The Holocaust Museum at Pamenkalnio 12 (Tel 262 07 30) is a museum which gives a history of Jewish life in Lithuania and details very concisely the Jewish experiences of WW2. Situated at  the  end of the road. website

The National Museum at Arsenalo 1 (Tel 262 94 26) is very informative exhibition about the lifestyle of Lithuanians from the 13th century until today. It includes some carefully constructed models of the homes in which they

Lithuanian Art Museum : Bokšto Str. 5, LT-01126, Vilnius The collections on this museum are situated in several locations in Vilnius. They include around 2,500 paintings dated from the 16th to the 19th centuries largely focused on portraits of nobility and clergy , There are also  around 8,000 drawings by European and Japanese artists since the 15th century. Additionally there are over 30,00 works from the 20th Century,and collections of paintings in water colours  sculptures and of photograph website

The Planetarium at  Konstitulijios 12 (Tel 262 3092) is an interesting exhibition for anyone interested in astronomy. Not open at weekends. website

The Gates of Dawn And Chapel at Ausro Vartu 12 (Tel 212 35 13) were built in the fortified walls to the city during the 16th century. Inside the gates there is a Chapel with an image of the Virgin Mary built in 1671. It was rebuilt in a neo-classical style in 1829. website

Statue of Frank Zappa  Kalinausko Square Tallinn – Rock music enthusiasts may appreciate the only statue of this musician in the world which was erected in 1966

Annual Vilnius Festival Every July, concerts of jazz, folklore and classical music are held in Vilnius. These concerts have become more popular and the the festival is gaining international fame especially for its jazz sessions.

Restaurants In Vilnius

International restaurants in Vilnius seem to be a little scare and one very good find is The Polonezas at Naugorduko 76 (Tel 210 41 68). This genuinely Polish establishment serves a truly exceptional bistro which includes several types of meats and stewed cabbage. Well worth a visit. Possibly the best restaurant in Vilnius is The Ukrainos Vakarai at Algirido 5 (Tel 265 03 02). The cuisine here is authentic Ukrainian of the highest standard. There is a menu in English which illustrates how spoilt for choice diners are. The borsche is brilliant and a range of exceptional meat dishes. All this complimented by a bar full of goodies including a vodka flavoured with red chili peppers. A must ! – booking advisable

For good Lithuanian food try Lokys at Stikliu 8 (Tel 262 90 46) which is well established and offers a wide variety of game dishes, in a very intimate atmosphere. The Cili Kaimas at Vokieciu 8 (Tel 231 25 36) is a very professional Lithuanian restaurant with a reliable sauteed broccoli. This establishment has only recently opened and the choice on the menu is being extended slowly and surely and it is destined to figure in good guides.

The Aukstaiciai at Antokolskio 13 (Tel 210 01 69) serving traditional lithuanian food which appears to be very popular with locals. Fairly priced and you can by a real draught Guinness from the bar ! The Ad Astum at Seimyniskiu 21 (Tel 273 01 21) has to be one of Eastern Europe’s most unique restaurants. It has an international menu offering good food at very reasonable which you can watch being cooked at the grill in the centre of the a tastefully decorated room. Also on the menu is a sauna and small swimming pool. Rare – but could it be a precedent for an intimate meal out ?

Crime and Personal Safety & Security In Vilnius  Pick pocketing and bag snatching may occur on public transport, poorly lit streets, and in parks at night. Recently instances of pick pocketing in bars and restaurants have increased. Visitors should be avoid accepting drink and sometimes food from strangers in clubs and bars etc as these ‘gifts’ may be spiked in order to facilitate a robbery.

Car theft, or goods within the cars is also on the increase. Four wheel drives and more expensive cars are frequent targets.

Vilnius Tourist Board Information

Vilnius Lithuania Weather Details:
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