What to see in Vilnius?
Vilnius, that is the capital of Lithuania and the largest city of the Baltic states. There are so many beautiful places and interesting sights in it, that it is difficult to decide what to see if we have one day of sightseeing or a weekend ahead of us. What to see in Vilnius? Which of the dozens of museums and churches are worth visiting? Upon arrival, proceed to one of the Vilnius Turism branches, where not only you can get maps and guides (also in Polish) but also to borrow an audioguide, sign up for a guided tour or buy a Vilnius City Card.
A walk through the old town
The Old Town entered on the UNESCO list is definitely a must see. We had a chance to admire them in the winter version and we were very delighted. We have only one day for visiting Vilnius, so we want to make the most of it (and not to wander around the city aimlessly) we decided to go on the Festive Walking Tour, thanks to which we saw the most important attractions of the city and heard about their history within three hours. If you have more time, you can organize such a tour yourself, that's why we are happy to advise you on what to see in Vilnius.
Let's start from the central point of the city, the cathedral square and the Cathedral Basilica of St.. Stanislaus and St.. Władysław. Because of the fires that have haunted it for years, wars and floods was rebuilt many times. Its interior is decorated with some of the oldest Lithuanian frescoes, and the most important bishops are buried in the basement, rulers and nobles. Next to the Basilica there is a belfry and (during the holiday season) beauty, original Christmas tree. Supposedly, in the place of today's Basilica, i.e. in an oak grove, there was a statue and a temple in honor of the god Perkun, who was the most powerful pagan god of heaven and thunder in the Slavic beliefs.
After passing the Basilica, you can see a large monument. The monument shows Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania in the years 1316-1341, one of the most famous Lithuanian rulers. It is worth paying attention, that unlike many other monuments depicting rulers, Gediminas is not sitting on his horse, but is one step ahead of him (which not everyone likes). There is also a wolf on the monument (the symbol of Vilnius). legend has it, that Gediminas stayed overnight in those areas while hunting. Tired of successful hunts, he quickly fell asleep. Then he dreamed of an iron wolf standing on a hill, howling as loud as a hundred wolves were howling. Lizdeka, the pagan bard translated the dream to the prince: "What the gods destined the rulers and Lithuania, let it be! The iron wolf stands for a castle and an impregnable city, which the ruler will wear in this place. This city will be the center of Lithuanian lands, and the howling of the wolf means fame, which will resound in all countries ... ". Gediminas obeys the will of the gods, he founded a city there, which he named after the Wilenka River.
Turning left behind the monument, we reach the courtyard of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. The Palace houses an interesting and quite large museum. It's definitely worth a look, the exposure is interesting, and ticket prices are not exorbitant. As an encouragement, some photos from our sightseeing - the museum's collections are really impressive!
Next, it is worth going towards Zamkowa Street, or Pilies gatvé. It is full of shops, cafes and interesting tenement houses. We recommend visiting the antique shop at the very beginning of the street, there are a lot of interesting and more or less old items. You will surely find something interesting for yourself.
The next stop is the Vilnius Town Hall, built in the 15th century. On its facade you can see the coat of arms of the city - St.. Christopher carrying the Baby Jesus on his back. Cultural events take place in the town hall, art exhibitions, concerts and a tourist information office.
Right next to the town hall is the church of St.. Kazimierz. It is one of the earliest baroque buildings in Vilnius. During Napoleon's expedition to Moscow, it was turned into a grain warehouse, and in the nineteenth century rebuilt into an Orthodox church. During World War I, the temple was used as a garrison church for German soldiers, and in the Soviet times it housed a museum of atheism. Inside you will find three baroque altars and large crypts.
Another interesting church is the church of St.. Anna. legend has it, that Napoleon liked it so much, that this one wanted to take him to Paris. The building is a late Gothic masterpiece, built approx 1500 year, from the foundation of Aleksander Jagiellończyk. The architect was probably a city builder from Gdańsk, Michał Enkinger, sent here at the king's request. Inside there are hundreds of clay products and beautiful baroque altars and in the windows you can see colorful stained glass. Next to the church there is a neo-gothic belfry from the year 1874 referring to the style of the late gothic.
The last stop in the Old Town is one of its most important symbols and monuments - the Gate of Dawn. In the chapel of the Gate of Dawn there is a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Our Lady of Mercy - known as the Madonna of the Gate of Dawn or the Madonna of Vilnius.. It was painted in the 17th century. The picture of Ostra Brama has been famous for its miracles for many years. It is considered miraculous not only by Catholics, but also by the Orthodox and Uniates. He is known all over the world, and copies of it are found in churches in many countries.
Zarzecze district, or Vilnius Užupis
Currently, the artists' district, once forgotten and uninteresting part of the city. Užupis has its own national anthem, the constitution, the president, ambassadors, bishop and his patron - the Angel of Užupis. There are two churches here, cemetery and seven bridges. The constitution of the Republic of Užupis is written on the wall and you can read it by turning onto Paupio Street. Every year, 1 April (that is, on the Užupis festival) a new plaque in another language is revealed. After visiting the Old Town, it is worth walking around Zarzecze and getting to know a different side of Vilnius.
Where to sleep and eat in Vilnius?
We first stopped at the wonderful Vilnius Home B&B, which we strongly recommend to you. The prices are affordable and the breakfasts are delicious! Additionally, it is close to the city center and to the bus and train stations. However, if you prefer the atmosphere of a typical hostel, we recommend HostelGate (right next to the Gate of Dawn) where we also spent one night. It is best to book accommodation via booking.com, of course you can pay in cash upon arrival.
If you fancy some local delicacies, and you don't want to spend a fortune, we recommend a place similar to our milk bar - Sultiniai. The restaurant is located on Jogailos Street 6 and has been open since 9 do 19 (on Saturdays from 10 do 15, closed on Sundays). We ate delicious zeppelins there, at a price of € 2.6 per serving.
How to get to Vilnius and how to get around?
We have a lot from Poland, good bus connections - we recommend LuxExpress, which has very comfortable coaches with an interesting multimedia system to make the journey more pleasant. Tickets have different prices (depending on the standard of the coach), but there are often promotions - we paid PLN 29 for a ticket from Warsaw.
You can easily move around the city on foot (within the center) or use the bus and trolleybus network (run from 4:00 do 24:00, there are also night lines). You can find the timetable here, and information on ticket prices here. You can also buy a Vilnius City Card with a public transport ticket.
What to see in Vilnius?
To sum up - the obligatory point is the Old Town, a museum is also worth visiting (remember to check the opening days and hours in advance) and take a walk in the artistic district of Zarzecze. We will definitely come back to Vilnius because we liked it very much, a wy? You have already visited the capital of Lithuania?