Mini guide to Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of the Republic of Lithuania and the largest city in the
country. The Old Town is the historical centre of the city, and is one of the
largest in Eastern Europe. Stretching along both banks of the fast flowing Neris
River, Vilinus is warm and inviting.
Although Vilnius is often called a Baroque city, you will find some buildings
of Gothic, Renaissance and other styles in the Old Town. The main sights here
are Gediminas Castle and the Cathedral Square. The Old Town of Vilnius is on
the UNESCO World Heritage List due to its unique features.
Gedimino Tower offers a spectacular view of the city, and to the northeast
is the 14th century church of Saints Peter and Paul, with a plain façade
that belies its decadent interior. To the west, at the foot of the hill, is
Gediminas Square, home to a Roman Catholic cathedral.
The Church of St Casimir is also worth visiting. Casimir is the patron saint
of Lithuania and, in a Soviet effort to limit Lithuanian identity, the church
was made a museum of atheism in 1966. It became a church again in the late 1980s.
There are a number of museums in the city, including the famous Jewish History
Museum. Vilnius was once known as 'Northern Jerusalem' and had a population
of 70,000 Jews before WWII. Nazi atrocities reduced the population to about
800 Jews; and today there are less than 5,000.
The Victims of Genocide Museum, located in a section of the former KGB headquarters,
documents the cruel treatment of political prisoners by the KGB during the Soviet
era. Alternatively, the National Museum of Lithuania, a historical museum with
folk costumes, folk art and archaeological exhibits, is also worth a look.
Outside town is the lively Gariunai market, where residents buy goods from
Poland, Turkey and China. Alternatively, a daytrip can be made to Paneriai,
a World War II death camp, where more than 100,000 Lithuanians and Poles (mostly
Jews) were murdered by the Nazis.
Entering Lithuania has become quite trouble-free, particularly at airports.
By car, delays at the Polish and Latvian border have also been reduced. Vilnius
Airport is just 5kms from the city centre. When you arrive, avoid the hagglers
outside the main arrival hall and head for the licensed taxis in line.
Selection of hotels in this region:
Centrum Uniquestay Vilnius
Holiday Inn Vilnius
Le Meridien Villon Resort Hotel
Radisson SAS Astorija Hotel Vilnius
Click below for a
full list of hotels and online booking