There’s a saying an idea is...
There’s a saying an idea is born in the West of Europe, Flourishes in the middle and dies in the East, take for example Renaissance. So Vilnius is that last point to the East spreading and housing European culture and architecture from the middle ages till now. How come it traveled so far to Eastern Europe? Well, as every old, big, important city it has its’ own history, with dukes, duchess, kings, queens.. Lithuania used to be a very big country. In XVI-XVII centuries king’s wife was Bona Sforza, from famous Italian (Milan) family, she invited here many Italian architectures, musicians. Monasteries carried their own European art, established Universities, Vilnius University was established in 1579. You might be very surprised with this city if you have never been here, it’s definitely worth a visit. Vilnius is about an hour and a half by car from the city I live (Kaunas), so I’m quite often in it with some things to do, or just visiting friends, or showing it for friends from abroad, well, welcome! :) In the picture is a fragment of Lower Castle, this part is planned to be rebuilt until 2009.
Safe centre :-)
I found Vilnius or better to say its centre/downtown very frindly and safe for visitors. Locals I was lucky to speak with, confirmed that opinon. Well, certainly I was watching my belongigs and valuables all the time as always during my trips and especially at crowded places. I didn't meet many policemen walking around the old town but they were. I would be probably arrested for taking a picture of a police car in the Soviet Union in not so old past but now, no worries...
Anyway, I would rather avoid walking alone at night outside the city center and esp. inside neglected housing districts and close to bus and train stations as I excepted higher risk crime rate at these areas. At night I would park my car on guarded parking lots only, although my car wasn't newest Mercedes model and was insuranced against thefts.
Just in case of any emergency... call free (no card required in public phones):
01 - Fire Station,
02 - Police
03 - First Aid
The miracle tile is all but impossible to find in the huge tile plaza that forms Cathedral Square in the spiritual and physical heart of Vilnius. This colourful tile, if you can find it, marks one end of the 2 million person human chain, which stretched for 650km from Vilnius to Tallinn to protest against Soviet rule, in 1989. The way to find it is not to look down, but around! You will see lovers greet and spin over the tile and old friends embrace. Inlayed with a special word it grants wishes if you stand upon it and spin around - or so the story goes. Past occupants of the tile wished for, and were finally granted - FREEDOM
What will you wish for?
THE GATES OF DAWN
The Gates of Dawn are one of the symbols of the city of Vilnius. These gates are a famous Catholic shrine not only in the whole of Lithuania but also abroad. Built on the road to the city of Medininkai and originally called the Medininkai gates, they were one of the original five gates of Vilnius built together with the city wall.
This ugly, grey, dirty, monumental and heavy building was (still is ?) a sport complex. It was built on the northern bank of Neris River when Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union, I am sure. The Soviet authorities used to call such buldings (usually of poor quality) very modestly: "Palace of Sport". This cement edificie looked very neglected, not painted or renovated for years and was typical edificie of its kind, still easy to find in most post-communist countries around the world.
Hmm... I think that nobody wanted to invest a lot of money to renovate it. It was easier, faster, maybe even less expensive to build quite new, multi-purpose complexes like the Forum Palace mentioned in my Sports Travel tips. What will happen to this and other huge, poor quilty and usuless buildings of Soviet era? Will they survive in times of market economy? I doubt...