Before I went to Vilnius, I heard about this city that it is typically post-communist concrete, grey, boring and dirty. But my beautiful Lithuanian friend who is very much in love with the capital of her country, invited us there. Maybe it was her loving eyes that made me see Vilnius in another way. Yes, it is post-communist, sometimes grey, but it would not pass for boring or dirty.
I would like to share with you places which I found the most fascinating in Vilnius
- The incredible and funny place: Republic Uzupis, about which I wrote here: The Republic Uzupis
- The most romantic, creative and sophisticated street called Literatu Gatve, about which I wrote here: The Literary Street
- Murals, street art – everywhere in the world I go, I always look for this kind of art, and Vilnius did not disappoint me. Have a look:
4. Sculptures and monuments – to be honest in the post-Soviet republic I expected to see more of them, but probably right after liberation from the Soviet regime, they were thrown on their heads and necks, from their pedestals. The ones I saw were cute, original and I had the impression that they were smiling at me, inviting me to like them. I will show you a few here:
5. Secession / Eclectic houses. Unfortunately, to my great despair, I only found few examples. Some of them were designed by Polish architects which made my heart bit faster. I especially recommend taking a stroll on the wide nineteenth-century street called Prospekt Giedymin:
6. Gediminas Hill – I recommend a hike to the top of this hill, where the tower of the founder of the Jagiellonian dynasty is standing. Jagiellons were the kings and queens of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The view from the top is just amazing.
7. Cheese. Yes, you read it correctly. I did not make mistake with France or Switzerland. In Lithuania, they produce their very own hard cheese, similar to Italian parmesan. Is called Dziugas and when matured it has this wonderful, nutty flavour that I love so much. I recommend everyone to take part in a testing event, you can learn a lot from it. This is the link to the company which produce it: Dziugas Cheese In the shop I managed to buy the oldest cheese I’ve ever bought anywhere, it was 6 years old. Fairytale, dream, yummy. Unfortunately, you cannot eat too much at one go.
8. Churches. I am a huge fan of churches, I am fascinated by their beauty and atmosphere, and in Vilnius, I found few I liked a lot: The beautiful flaming gothic church of St. Anna’s. The residents of Vilnius pride themselves on the fact that Napoleon loved this church so much when he arrived here during an expedition to Moscow, but in reality, he organized barracks there. Other church I would recommend is the Vilnius cathedral and especially one chapel is definitely worth visiting. The chapel is dedicated to the patron of Vilnius, whom Polish people have known as Prince Kazimierz. This sanctuary is completely made of marble which makes it even more graceful:
When talking about Vilnius I have to mention the Gate of Dawn chapel.Inside there is a seventeenth-century painting called Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn. This canvas was historically displayed above the Vilnius city gate and had been intended to ward off attacks and bless passing travellers. Later because people believe it is miraculous, it was covered in expensive and elaborate rich clothes leaving only the face and hands visible. In these days the Gate of Dawn’s painting is a major site of pilgrimage in Vilnius and attracts many visitors, especially from my homeland.
9. Khachapuri– I know is not really Lithuanian but I have never tried it before and in Vilnius, you can buy this in almost every corner. This is Georgian cheese bread slightly similar to Italian pizza. Yummy, tasted like a paradise in my mouth. Now I dream about going to Georgia and try it there with famous Georgian wine.
10. Bambalyne, a wonderfully mysterious place, with a huge selection of alcohols, including over 100 species of Lithuanian beer. But if you are not a big fan of beer you can try something else. I really recommend trying their mead which may contain 80% of alcohol or nice, sweet berry wine. This is a link to this place Bambalyne pub