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VILNIUS

Destination Lithuania: Why Not Choose… Vilnius?

Lithuania's capital and its largest city, Vilnius is a flamboyantly colourful destination, with its pastel sculpted façades and its image as a historical city that looks to the future. It is perfect for lovers of green spaces: over 40% of the city's surface area is made up of parks and gardens, which gives it the feel of a welcoming village where your weekend could slip peacefully by. With its diversity and mediaeval roots, Vilnius is full of surprises.

 

Art, architecture, religion: Vilnius has it all

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old town is sure to charm you, with its buildings dating back to the 13th century. Its maze of alleys offers impressively eclectic architecture: Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance style buildings will have you staring in wonder as you walk around the historic centre.

Vilnius is also home to numerous religious buildings: the Church of the Holy Spirit, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, monasteries and synagogues, and the Gate of Dawn, a famous catholic pilgrimage site.

Although architecture and religion are highly present, there is nevertheless a bohemian, rebellious and underground feel in the neighbourhood of Užupis, or the "Republic of Užupis". This independent neighbourhood is managed by an artistic community. It has colourful houses, art galleries, street art… and many shows in the streets. Perfect for creative souls…

 


Shopping and night-life

For dinner, head to Lokys to sample some mediaeval Lithuanian cuisine in an unforgettable setting: a vaulted cellar with bare bricks, providing a cosy atmosphere to make you feel like you've stepped back in time. If you like mixing sweet and savoury flavours, try stag or venison with cranberries and a wine and honey sauce.

Want to dance the night away in vaulted cellars? Most of the bars are in the old town or on Gediminas Avenue.

If it's shopping you want, then you only need one word: Akropolis! The largest shopping centre in the Baltic states… And if you want to bring back a typical souvenir, choose amber, collected from the shore of the Baltic Sea and available in many Lithuanian shops.

 


Top 10 places to visit in Vilnius

-          The Gate of Dawn: the old gate of the city is a Catholic pilgrimage site in the historic centre of Vilnius. Visit it to experience a spiritual moment of religious feeling.

-          The old town: featuring on the UNESCO World Heritage List, it is made up of small streets, superb churches and hidden courtyards.

-          Church of St. Peter and St. Paul: a magnificent Baroque church with 2000 white stucco statues.

-          Church of St. Anne: this Gothic church is the most beautiful in the city, thanks to its red brick arches and stunning windows.

-          Gediminas' Tower: the last remaining part of Vilnius Castle, it offers amazing views of the whole city.

-          Bernardine Gardens: the perfect place for a walk, this park contains a botanical garden and many fountains.

-          Gediminas Avenue: a long, chic shopping avenue connecting the Parliament, the Cathedral Square and the historical centre. It is lined with shops and cafés.

-          Užupis: this bohemian, artistic neighbourhood has its own constitution, written in many languages. An astonishing place, perfect for curious minds and art lovers.

-          Vilnius TV Tower: this building offers a 360° panorama of the new and old town… you can eat dinner in the restaurant on its revolving platform. 

-          Gediminas' Castle: situated in the old centre and made entirely of brick, it offers a breathtaking view of the city.

-          The Cathedral of Vilnius: located on a site formerly devoted to the God of Thunder, it is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Visit to discover its frescoes and paintings.

 

 

Culinary specialities

Rumour has it that of all the Baltic countries, Lithuania offers the best food… a legend worth investigating! Lithuanian cuisine has a reputation for being copious, flavoursome… and traditional. Here are the key dishes to try during your stay.

- Suilpikai, fried potato dumplings with various sauces.

- Ëlynai, thick pancakes filled with meat or soft cheese and served on melted butter.
- Cepelinai, potato starch dumplings, filled with meat or mushrooms.

- Koldunai, giant ravioli served with crème fraîche or a buttery sauce. 

- Silké, herring eaten with potatoes.

- Šaltibarščiai, a beetroot soup which is served cold in summer or winter.

Cultural Events

- June: Vilnius Festival. On the agenda: a mixture of classical music, jazz, dance, theatre and cinema.

- 16 February: Lithuania's national festival, commemorating the country's independence from Russia.

- 28 February: The local mardi gras (Užgavėnės)! Lithuanians of all ages dress up in animal costumes to parade through the village streets. After midnight, an effigy of winter is burned in a celebratory atmosphere.

- February/March: Vilnius Book Fair, dedicated to both Lithuanian and foreign authors.


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