We decided to go to Russia when we saw it is very easy to obtain visa at the railway station in Vilnius. Just go to the tourist information office. In there is the company Kelvita. They sell these visa for 370 L in three working days ready. (107 euro). This price also includes the Letter of Invitation
You will have a little exra expenses, because she needs a picture of you with a white back ground and no glance. You can make them nearby. We also had to pay extra because you need an insurance paper which says that you have health insurance up till 40.000 euro. This should be mentioned. It was ready when promissed. They also sell visa to Belarus and Kaliningrad, we did not try this. But we trust Elena, she did an excellent job.
This was one of my favourite statues that I saw during our visit to Vilnius - partly because of the quality of the sculpture, and the captured expressions, and partly because of the nature of Zemach Shabad.
This piece shows Doctor Shabad and a young girl holding a cat - her pet?
Zemach (Tsemakh) Shabad (February 5th 1864-January 20th 1935) was born in Lithuania. He practised as a paediatrician, who often treated children of the poor, without charging a fee.
He was a respected member of the Jewish community as well as the city of Vilnius, as a socialist and political activist.
Dr Shabad was a member of the Senate of the Second Polish Republic during 1928, and a Co-founder and Vice-President of the YIVO (Institute for Jewish Research).
He was one of the originators of the Volkist movement, which evolved into the Folkspartei - Jewish People's Party.
Dr Shabad met Korney Chukovsky (a Russian writer) who was inspired by the doctor's nature to write a childrens poem "Aybolit and Barmaley%.
The poem features a Doctor Aybolit (which translates as “Doctor Ouch, It Hurts”)
The good Doctor Aybolit was based on Zemach Shabad .
The statue was erected here in 2007. It is the work of the Lithuanian sculptor Romualdas Kvintas
The marble base has inscriptions in English, Yiddish, Lithuanian and Russian.
"In memory of Doctor Tsemakh Shabad and Vilnius Jewish Community"
Apparently Dr Shabad is buried in Vilnius's Jewish cemetery.
Where is it?
At the edge of a grassed square flanked by Mėsinių gatve and Ašmenos gatve, off Rudninku
The old ghetto area.
What else is nearby?
Between The Church of All Saints and The Town Hall. Near St Nicholas' Church
Near to our hotel was this small square, with this egg sculpture - we were quite intrigued as to what it was doing there. Well I've found a bit out about it now.(http://www.spottedbylocals.com/) - I'm still not quite sure why it was put here though.
Apparently, this 300kg egg was originally unpainted, and stood in the main square of the 'independent Republic of Uzupis until 2002, when it was replaced by 'The Angel of Uzupis'
In 2003, Lijana Turskytė (an artist and designer) painted it, turning it into an Easter Egg, which was then placed on the nest above the granite column. It is meant to signify the 'restoration and Revival' of this area of the Old Town.
What else is nearby?
Surrounding the square are a couple of bars I recommend the one on Sv Stepono for a quiet drink (we didn't try the bar opposite Hotel Conti) , an 'Off licence', a lovely confectioners/patisserie - the chocolate eclairs are 'to die for'!!
During our visit, the square was usually inhabited by small groups of 'old boys' drinking and smoking, sharing food etc, they appeared a bit threatening at first, but didn't cause us any problems.
Where is it?
Between All Saints Church and Choral Synagogue.
Pylimo gatve passes in front of the square, while Raugyklosgatve and Sv Stepono gatve run either side of the square.
About 5 minutes walk from Bus/train stations
Want to find a place with a great view on a rainy day? Make your way to the Vaga book store on the 3rd floor of the Gedimino 9 mall. If you go to the back of the book store, you'll find a fully-stocked coffee shop with a lot of window seats. Enjoy a Lithuanian "black coffee" (or whichever beverage you prefer), grab a seat, and enjoy the view.
A fun half day trip to do from Vilnius is to visit the center of Europe. It is under an hour away and a fun thing to say you have visited while in Lithuania.
More info at
Egg sculpture in the Pylimo Gatve street in the Jewish quarter
Sculpture “Easter Egg” (“Margutis”)
2003 artist Lijana Turskytė
turned 300 kg egg erected on the granite column, into an Easter egg (before, no colour, grey comcrete)
You can get a tiny taste of the myriad narrow streets and alleyways of what was once the main Jewish community by wandering around the area of the Great Synagogue.
The poorest area lay between Zydu Gatve and Antokolskio Gatve , forming part of ghetto number 1. Pleasant to wander here, narrow streets with pastel buildings and architectural points of interest (some of these buildings are originally very old, although their upper storeys were damaged during the war and have been restored).
You'll find another plaque showing a plan of the ghettos on a wall towards the end of Stikliu Gatve.
The Great Synagogue (one of the 100 or so which existed in Vilnius pre-war) no longer exists. It's site is now surrounded by more modern blocks of flats, with a school and grassy area where the building once stood.
The Great Synagogue was larger inside than out, because it was sunk into the earth....presumably in order not to look too impressive to non-Jews. From outside there looked to be 3 storeys, but there were actually 5 (holding up to 5000 people at a time).
At the side of the school there is a plaque and sculpture of the Gaon of Vilnius. This was Elijah Solomon (1720-1797), a highly-respected leader and authority on Judaism not only for the community in Vilnius but elsewhere.
Not so easy to find this place. There are no obvious 'roads' leading off Vokienciu to the 'courtyard', but if you cross the road from the Mesiniu side, and walk away from the Town Hall, you will see a couple of archways (wide enough for a car) through which you can walk. Or you can access it from Stikliu Gatve.
The gates of ghetto number 2 no longer stand, of course, any more than most of the buildings which existed at that time.
Across a small grassy area near Mesiniu there is a plaque (on a building wall at the junction of Rudninku Gatve and Ligonines Gatve). The plaque shows the layout of the two Vilnius ghettos, in Lithuanian and Hebrew. and marks where the gates once were.
See the photo of where the plaque is sited to help you find it.
A few steps further along Mesiniu from the ghetto memorial is this sculpture. It is new, dating from 2007.
The memorial is to Dr Zemach Shabad (1864-1935). I know nothing of him other than what Wiki tells me.
But I thought the sculpture was lovely.
Mesiniu (butchers' street) is a narrow street leading off Vokieciu , a broad street which led through the heart of pre-war Jewish Vilnius. Then a warren of streets and alleyways, not much remains.......the effects of the war and subsequent rebuilding has seen to that.
The area around Mesiniu formed ghetto number 2.
Where Mesiniu meets Asmenos there is a small memorial in Hebrew and Lithuanian, 'in remembrance of those who fought and struggled in the Vilnius ghetto'.
There were some stones on this memorial.
As with Kaunas, there had been a Jewish community in Vilnius for centruies.
The Nazis took control in 1941, almost immediately taking 500 Jews per day to the surrounding forests and shooting them. In September of that year two ghettos were created in the Old Town. The smaller was for around 11000 people (most of whom were killed soon after it was set up), the larger for 29000 (at first).
Members of the Jewish community formed a resistance movement weithin the ghetto, and there were a (very) few escapes.
In September 1943 those who remained in the ghetto (about 1000) were dispersed to labour and concentration camps elsewhere, those too ill to be moved simply being shot in the forests.
There are around 3000 Jews in Vilnius now.
As with Kaunas, I shall make separate tips for the various memorials in what was one the Jewish quarter of Vilnius.
In case you'd like a new hair cut or a manicure, Franko is the right place for you. It's a small hair salon in the middle of the Old town at Pilies 23. The prices are not too high, I got my nails done for 40 litas (about 11 €). The staff speaks English and Russian, and they also sell Tigi hair products.
The Karaim were called together whith the Muslim Tatars to Lithuania by Great Duke Vytautas in .
Karaism originated in Baghdad and spread around for the next centuries. It doesn't accept the Talmud, but the more it observes the reading of the Tora. Therefore it can be called Jewish sect. The Karaim community in Lithuania is the most numerous in the world and nearly the only one to preserve its own language. This is a Turquic language of the northern kipchak branch, related to Tataric. The Tatars of Lithuania adopted old Belorussian (administrative state speach in the time they joined the Great Duchy of Lithuania) as their own language, but the last years they begin to learn Tataric or Turkish again.
The Kenesa is their worshipping house as the synagogue is for the Jews.
On the other side of the street there is Karaimu gatve, where some traditional houses of them still exist.
Although it is a few hour drive from Vilnius, I've decided to include here the tip on the Hill of Crosses, because it seems to be one of the most unique places in Lithuania.
The hill itself is an ancient mound. The first crosses were placed here at the beginning of the 15th century. But it was in the 19th century that the place became the symbol of fight against oppression. The number of crosses increased all the time - it was much more than the expression of religious faith, it was the open manifestation of patriotism. Naturally the authorities objected to it; many times in the course of history orders were given to remove the crosses. After the WWII there were several such attempts, when bulldozers were to raze the hill to the ground. Although the place was guarded, people stealthily were coming there at night and bringing new crosses to replace the removed ones. Repressions came to an end in the 1980's.
How many crosses are there? I wonder if anybody knows. For sure hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions. Some of them are a few mm in size, others several metres. Don't forget to add yours, when you go there.
The Radisson Sas is one very nice hotel here in the old city. Good location where you can walk to...more
Very good quality accomodation. Service excellent as well. We had dinner one night, and it was good...more
We stayed at Hotel Novotel for two nights. I thought it was a good hotel. The room were clean and...more
see all Vilnius member meetings