What to See in Vilnius
Vilnius has one of the largest Medieval Old Towns in Europe but the original foundations of the city date back as early as neolithic times.
It is almost impossible to visit Vilnius and not go to the old town, such is its importance in the every day life of the city. It is still a fully functioning section of the city, with its narrow street and large open squares, many spires and religious buildings. During the summer months, the many bars and cafes open up their medieval courtyards for al-fresco dining and drinking, the perfect way to relax and soak up the history of the surrounding buildings.
In 1974 construction started on the Vilnius TV Tower, completed in 1980 the tower remains the tallest building in Lithuania and offers amazing views from the 165metre high observation deck. Complete with a rotating restaurant, dinner in the tower is a fantastic way to Vilnius and its surrounding areas. The tower also holds significant importance to Lithuanians as in 1991, 14 unarmed civilians lost their lives and a further 700 were injured, protecting the tower from Soviet military seizure.
Lithuania is a deeply religious country and Vilnius is its centre, Cathedral Square lies at the crossing of the cities main streets and is often home to city fairs and public gatherings. The bell tower is also subject to modern debate, some believe that the base of the tower was once a pagan temple. The more common belief is that the tower was once part of the original defensive wall and part of the lower castle.
Until the 9th century Gedaminus hill was nothing more than a settlement protected by a wooden wall. During the 9th century this was upgraded to a stone wall and finally in the 10th century a wooden castle was built. It was under Gedamino rule that Vilnius was established. Through out the following years the castle was developed and remained un-captured until finally in 1655 the fortress fell under Russian rule.
There is one area in Vilnius called Užupis, an independent state that was formed in 1997. Mostly inhabited by artists and bohemians, Užupis was once an area totally neglected by the Vilnius municipality. As a result the buildings became a shelter for the homeless, prostitutes and other people on the fringes of society. The area is now the go-to place for artists and others looking for an alternative scene.
To make the most of your trip to Vilnius why not take one of our guided tours around the city. You can walk, take a Segway, you can be cultural or alternative we will have the ideal tour for you.
Authour Graham Williams