Sightseeing Vilnius, the Capital of Lithuania
Updated: 2018-01-17
  • Vilnius Old Town from air ballon
  • Ona Church in Vilnius
  • Sightseeing Vilnius Old Town
  • Vilnius Cathedral square
Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, has a long history. Born from a dream of Grand Duke Gediminas, today Vilnius is one of the most beautiful city in Lithuania. Take a tour around the capital of Lithuania and learn about Lithuanian history.

1. The Cathedral

One of the most famous architectural monuments in Vilnius is Vilnius Cathedral, standing at the foot of Gediminas` Hill. It was built in 1387 on a place where once the God of thunder was worshipped.
Because of the frequent fires and wars Vilnius Cathedral was rebuilt many times.. In 1783, the restoration works under the leadership of Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevicius were started and were finished in 1801 by Mykolas Sulcas.
In 1950, the Cathedral was closed by the Soviets. IT was used as a warehouse for a while and then was abandoned. In 1990 the Cathedral was returned to the Catholic Church. The interior of the Cathedral is of a great artistic value. Here you can find artworks of the 16-19th centuries.
Vilnius Cathedral
Vilnius Cathedral after rain

2. Gediminas Castle

Gediminas Castle is located on the Castle Hill just behind the Cathedral. The original wooden castle was built in the early 13th century by the founder of Vilnius city Grand Duke Gediminas. The ancient legend about the foundation of the city says that Gediminas dreamt of an iron wolf on a hill and a pagan priest Lizdeika explained the dream as gods` will. The Gods wanted Gediminas to build a castle on this hill.
After Vilnius became the capital of Lithuania, the wooden castle was reinforced with brick walls. The current stone building was erected in 1419 at the direction of the Grand Duke Vytautas. The Duke`s castle ended up being used as a prison 200 years later. The castle was heavily damaged by Russian troops in the 17th century. Restoration works started in 1930 and since 1960 Gediminas Castle is a museum of the history of Lithuania.

3. The Ensemble of St. Anne`s and Bernardine`s Churches

St Anne`s and Bernardine`s churches present and extraordinary Gothic composition. Both of them were built in 15th century when the Bernardines came to Vilnius in 1462. St. Anne`s church is the most famous late Gothic building in Lithuania. The church was built using 33 different kinds of bricks. It has been standing for five centuries and has reached our time almost unchanged. It is one of the Vilnius` symbols. The most popular story about the church is that upon seeing St. Anne`s church Napoleon said that he would like to place it in his palm and move it to Paris.
The Bernardine`s church is one of the largest Gothic churches in Lithuania. The church features the oldest known crucifix in Lithuania, which dates back to the 15th century. The unique mural painting decorating the walls of the naves dates back to the 16th century and combines renaissance and gothic elements.
Vilnius Old Town

4. Church of St. Michael

St. Michael church is the only Renaissance style church in Vilnius. It was built in 159401625 as Leonas Sapiega`s family mausoleum. The interior of the church is very rich. Its high altar made from black, red, brown, and dark green marble is in the late renaissance style.
The tombstone of Leonas Sapiega and both of his wives is located near the high marble altar. This is the biggest memorial structure in Lithuania having the features of both baroque and mannerism. Since 1972 the Museum of Architecture has been operating in the church.

5. The Presidential Palace

The palace was built in 14th century for the first bishop of Vilnius Andrius Vasila. After Lithuania was incorporated into the Russian empire at the end of 18th century, the Bishop Palace became a temporary residence of the Russian Tsar. In 1824-1832 the palace was rebuilt in late Neo-Classical style. Today, after massive renovation, the palace houses he offices of the President of Lithuania.

6. The Vilnius University

Vilnius University is the oldest university in Eastern Europe. It was founded by Jesuits in 1579 and for more than four centuries it has been the leading cultural and scientific centre in Lithuania.
In more than 400 years Vilnius University outlived ups and downs. The history of the university is very rich and controversial; it cannot be separated from the history of Lithuania and reflects all its dramatic stages.
Vilnius University Ensemble represents Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical styles. Explore the 12 courtyards and the surrounding buildings.

7. The Town Hall

First mentioned in 1503, the Town Hall was the central point in the life of the whole city and the nearby square was the place of executions, market places and public life. The current building was designed at the end of 18th century by the famous architect Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevicius. Until 1924 the town theatre operated in the Town Hall. Later the State Art Museum was moved there and in 1998 the Town Hall was given back to the municipal government. Now it recalls its historic past: a place for city celebrations.
Vilnius Old Town






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