Vilnius, founded in the 10th Century, is the capital of Lithuania. It is one of the largest, most beautiful old cities in Central and Eastern Europe and is included in the UNESCO Heritage List.
Here you will find a magnificent diversity of architectural styles and a rich kaleidoscope of religious communities.
- Old Town. A charming district with numerous churches, narrow houses, and winding streets.
- Church of the Holy Spirit with the original painting of Divine Mercy. It can be found in Old Town.
- Pilies Gatve (Castle Street). It is a wonderful walking tour. Within one mile, there are about 100 vendors offering souvenirs, handicrafts, and restaurants. Of special interest: the house where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1917 and a very interesting Russian Orthodox Church where the bodies of the first three Christian Martyrs are displayed.
- Monument of the Great Duke of Lithuania and the Gothic Castle.
- The University of Vilnius, founded by the Jesuits. It is the oldest university in Eastern Europe. The Church of St. John and the Library are of special interest.
- Cathedral of Vilnius where St. Casimir, the patron saint of Lithuania, is buried.
- St. Peter and Paul’s Church, with plain facade and wonderful interior frescoes. It is a fourteenth century masterpiece. The main chandelier is a replica of a ship (the barque of St Peter).
- Shrine of the Three Crosses. It commemorates three Franciscan martyrs. Communists destroyed the shrine, but it has since been rebuilt.
- “Sanctus,” a wonderful store across from St. Theresa’s Church, recommended for religious souvenirs.
- Chapel of St. Theresa, built next to the Gate of Dawn, early Baroque style.
- Gate of Dawn with a chapel housing a holy image of the Virgin Mary. The entrance is from the side door of St. Theresa’s Church.
- Remnants of the Castle of Gediminas. The stairway to the top of the tower offers a wonderful view of Vilnius.
- St. Anne’s Church, a Gothic masterpiece.
- Statue of Adomas Mickevicius, next to St. Anne’s Church.
- Bernadine Church, now run by the Franciscans. It is mostly in ruins – a testament to the Communist legacy.
- Lithuanian National Museum, which features an extraordinary exhibit called Religious Art in Lithuania.
While in Vilnius, visit Trakai. The former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is very dear to all Lithuanians.
The town, which has a beautiful lakeside setting, is about an hour’s drive from Vilnius.
The castle museum of the Trakai offers an exhibition on the Lithuanian Grand Dukes and prehistoric findings.
Vilnius is located in southern Lithuania.
It is easily accessible by road or bus from many cities throughout Lithuania.
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