Pilies street is quintessential old town Vilnius. It cuts straight through the old city from the Cathedral to the City Hall, and continues as Didzioj street down to the Gates of Dawn. You can see here in a short walk the best of old town Vilnius, the low rise brick buildings, the magnificent churches, the evocative cobbled streets, the tiny run away side streets, and the glimpses of Gediminas castle towering over it all. You also see the worst Vilnius has to offer: the hawkers, beggars, and tourist hordes pouring out of the tour buses through the Gates of Dawn. It's also popular with pick-pockets, or so everyone warns.
It's a pleasant walk, though, just take the opportunity to dive into a quiet side street whenever a tourist group passes. Though this isn't always an escape. Once I found myself walking down the silent Bernadinu street and came upon the most perfect street artist, playing a minimalist, thoughtful, low-key tune on a small metal xylophone. It was the most apt music for such a quiet street. I threw a coin in his hat and watched as the swarm of a tour group engulfed him physically and audibly. None of them stopped to listen, cast an ear to his music, or even noticed him.
Pilies Gatvė is the main tourist attraction for architecture and people watching fans. Enjoy the restored buildings, cafės, and shopping stalls all around as you take a stroll through the area. Be sure to watch out for pickpockets, and to haggle with merchants should you want to buy that special knick-knack. If you'd like to stay longer, take a seat in a cafė, order an overpriced drink and/or snack, and enjoy the show.
I don't know how many times I walked along this street up and down in my 2 days in Vilnius, anyway it's probably the most visited street of the town, and it's really nice.
You can find any kind of restaurant, café and shop... yeah, the ideal place for a tourist! ;-)
It was so nice walking around in the early morning, with few people around, but also at midday, or at night with tons of young and old people walking up and down the atmosphere was always good.
Walking along the main street of the Old Town - Pilies gatve (Castle Street) I enjoyed my eyes looking at lovely, brick houses under # 12. They were renovated with reconstruction of their gothic facade in 80'. I got to know that surgeons, pharmacists and goldsmiths lived there.
Well, they were well paid in the old past, I am sure. Nowadays...hmm... I was told that at least Lithuanian surgeons are among the least paid and ready to go on strike or rather to move to wiser countries which pay much more to their best educated people. Very low salaries of say teachers, scientists and doctors are a hungover from the old Soviet system which didn't support these "dangerous" for the system professions.
This is where the heart of the Old Town beats. Savour it. Walk really slowly, watch colourful architecture and items of handicrafts, and listen to (generally excellent) buskers.
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