General city information

Vilnius is located on the banks of the Neris and Vilnele rivers in the south-east of Lithuania.
It has been the capital of Lithuania since 1323 when it was first mentioned in written sources. The monument to the founder of Vilnius, Grand Duke Gediminas, has been erected in the Cathedral Square, close to the Gediminas castle.

In 15th-16th centuries, Vilnius was one of the largest towns in eastern part of Europe with developed crafts and trades, beautiful churches and palaces, numerous schools and the Jesuits’ Academy (now Vilnius University).

The following years of wars and invasions devastated the town, during the ages Vilnius has undergone different changes but all these years it has remained political, economical and cultural centre of Lithuania.

Today, it is a modern city with rich history, unique architecture and developed industry.
All the main governing bodies of Lithuania as well as foreign embassies, largest banks and joint ventures are situated here. It is also a young city with plenty of institutions of higher education, universities and colleges.

Sightseeing Places in Vilnius

ImageVilnius University is the oldest university in eastern Europe which contains every major  architectural style from the last 400 years. The university buildings are among the best preserved in Vilnius owing to massive renovations completed in 1979 in honour of the university's 400th anniversary. Founded by Jesuits in 1570, the university was run by the order for more than 200 years. In 1832, the Russians closed the university and it was not reopened again until 1919. There are 12 courtyards in the university complex.

 Presidential Palace, the palace was built for a bishop in the 14th century. On different  occasions during the year 1812, tsar Alexander and Napoleon Bonaparte were guests in the palace. During its history, it has housed the artists' palace during the Soviet occupation and after 1991 the French embassy. Today after a massive renovation, the late classical-style building houses the offices of the president of Lithuania.

Castle Hill. Climb the 78 steps up the western tower of the higher castle and admire a  breathtaking view of the city! In the 13th century, the castle was rebuilt in 1419 by grand duke Vytautas due to the great fire of Vilnius. In 1610, it was used as a prison and during the Russian occupation (1655-1661), the towers and defensive walls were almost completely destroyed, it was only restored in 1930. Inside the tower itself find models of the castle as it was in the 14th and 18th centuries, plus other miscellaneous bits and pieces concerned with the building's history.

Legend has it that long ago seven Franciscan monks were crucified on Hill of Three  Crosses, originally erected in the 17th century. Stalin removed and buried them, but in 1989, they were rebuilt according to the original plans. The crosses are a great symbol of both Lithuanian mourning and hope. Also on this spot, you can get an excellent view of old town.

ImageGates of Dawn originally formed part of the town fortifications that were built into the  original city wall. In 1671, Carmelites from neighbouring St. Theresa’s built a chapel in the gates to house a holy image of the Virgin Mary, reputed for miracle-working powers. The chapel's interior was refurbished in the neoclassical style in 1829 and should not be missed. If you are walking from the old town, look for a door on the left and go up the stairs.

Saint Peter and Saint Paul's church was commissioned in 1668 by Michael Casimir Pac, captain of the Lithuanian armies. His tombstone, inscribed hiciacetpeccator (here lies the sinner) is embedded in the wall to the right of the entrance (Pac died in 1682, before the church was fully completed).
Despite a plain facade, the baroque interior is breathtakingly beautiful. Over 2,000 stucco figures crowd the vaults, representing miscellaneous mythological, biblical and battle scenes. Of particular note is the extraordinary, huge chandelier made from brass and glass beads and fashioned in the shape of a ship, made in Latvia in 1905.

The National Museum shows an extensive ethnographic collection with exhibits illustrating the history of the people of Lithuania from the 13th century to the present. Even recreated houses are created to show how Lithuanians of various regions lived during different centuries.

If you are interested in having a guided tour (by bus) round Vilnius, you should to go to the Town Hall and look at the timetable.
Tourist information centre
Daukanto sq. 2/10
Tel: 2 60 84 10
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