Old town details, Vilnius
Walking south from the Town Walls and the Bastion we passed through some old streets with old houses really in bad conditions, which need absolutely some restorations, after which they could become really nice as they were before!
This street should be Sv.Dviasios gatve, which is really close to the Gates of Dawn.
Look at lovely wooden doors and gates of old houses of Vilnius old town. Some of them were neglected but more and more are renovated just like on my picture. It was a house standing on eastern side of Town Hall's Square (Rotuses aikste) as I remember well.
Whenever you walk around Vilnius ld town look up to see lovely roofs covered by red tiles with windows like on my picture.
Looking at Vilnius labirynth of roofs I thought that the city was built with no plan. In contrast to many "well organized" European cities like say Krakow, Poland there were almost no perpendicular streets, no right angles... in strict old town of Vilnius. Haha, it was easier to get lost there.
I found this backyard somewhere at Ausros Vartu gatve (street) as I remember well. The backyards of Vilnius old town look mostly amazing especially these of them which were renovated in wise way like this one on my picture.
Luckily they didn't put any "plastic" kiosks, stores, pubs etc. but coblestones on the ground and plants climbing on walls of the houses. There are still many backyards to renovate, please continue this way :-)
Empty courtyard of the Basilian Monastery looked somewhat secret for me. At this place I thought about probably the most famous Polish epic poem "Dziady" by Mickiewicz which action took place just there, in a cell of a prison.
Well, England had Shakespeare, Greece had Homer and Poland had Mickiewicz. His poems where written in hard times where Poland disapperaed from Europe maps, so they were very patriotic, even nationalistic which was needed that time, I think.
I got to know that prisoners corrupted Russian prison's guards and used to meet in quite large Mickiewicz's cell at night for literary evenings. Haha, didn't it prove the power of money? :-) Hmm... corruption has very long history, I am sure.
I found this picturesque, lovely backyard when I passed through the rocosso Basilian Gate before I reached the Holy Trinity Church and Basilian Monastery. The area around with high (not trimed) grass, some building materials put on a lawn, looked neglected, messed and not very clean.
There many different but very picturesque backyards in the old town of Vilnius. They were easy to get to as the gates leading to them usually stayed open. Do not miss them... if you like.
I found a lot of beautiful and/or at least interesting yards hidden behind gates of Vilnius old town houses. Just one example on my picture. Hmm... I wanted to remove that car...
Go through the gate at # 32 on the main street of the old town called Pilies gatve (Castle Street). There was antique store/shop called Antikvaras Vidas on the left there. In front there was baroque house on my picture which was called "Victory House" and was decorated with statue of St. Mary.
Vilnius is full of signs of shared history of Poland and Lithuania. The Polish national epic, Adam Mickiewicz lived in this house behind the gate on my picture (in 1832). There was neglected plaque affixed above the gate. Nothing fancy but interested for every Pole as Mickiewicz worked on his poems "Grazyna" and "Dziady part II and IV" there.
Later, in 1834, he published his long poem "Pan Tadeusz". It was portrait of Lithuanian life in the first years of the nineteenth century. You can watch a movie, the costume drama "Pan Tadeusz" directed by Wajda in 1999. Well, the movie was a success in Poland mainly because the great characters played there but... yes, I am a Pole, but I was embarrassed to see the story which put aside Polish differences to prove they're the greatest people, or at least the greatest Slavs. Hmm... Polish megalomania - maybe wanted when Poland and Lithuania were occupied by Russia in 19th century but out of the time nowadays. Wajda is one of the world's best film directors. His movies were awarded La Palme d'Or in Cannes, France, Golden Lion in Venice, Italy and American Academy Award (Oscar statuette) in Los Angeles (Hollywood), USA in 2000.
Who was Mickiewicz?
He was a Pole born in Navahrudak (Polish or Lithuanian town, in Russian Empire that time, in Belarus now - confused?) at the same day as me - 24 December (Christmas Eve) but a few years earlier... well, in 1798. Died in Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey now) in 1855.
He entered Vilnius University in 1815 when he studied history and philosophy. Sentenced to exile in Russia, he had to leave Lithuania forever. More: here.
Where was that house?
I walked from the Cathedral Square I turned left to Literatu gatve (Zaulek Literacki in Polish) and... look at my picture.
This impressive coat of arms on my picture was not at all off the beaten path, rather off the sight, I mean easy to skip. It was put on the brick wall of the ground floor of the house on Pilies gatve (Castle Street) 24 (3-star Hotel Narutis now). There were tables of Kristupo cafe there.
I think it was the coat of arms of the family which owned this house built first in 16th century.
I found this old, neglected and somewhat secret roofed by red tiles house in a backyard of the main street of the old town - Pilies gatve (Castle Street). Go through the gate at # 22 on eastern side of the street.
Well, the backyards of Vilnius were different - sometimes surrounded by freshly painted and renovated houses sometimes by very neglected properties... just like on my picture.
I entered the main street (axis) of the old town that was Pilies gatve (Castle Street) at its western end at Cathedral Square. I wanted to get to famous St. Anne's church, so I decided to turn first street left under the arcade.
This street was only approx. 250 m (820 ft) long and was called Bernardinu gatve (Observantine Street, formerly Zaulek Bernardynski in Polish language). The 17th and 18th century houses along Bernardinu were built in either simple classical or more decorative baroque style and many of them have very picturesque yards - do not skip them! Well, some gates/doors were closed when I was there. I think that this street with its slight bends and numerous beautiful old houses, decorative gates and hidden yards looked the most picturesque in labirynth of old town's streets.
Each house on this street has its own story and is worth seeing at least for lovers of old architecture. I can recommend especially two historical houses:
Palace of Olizar or Lapacinski (Palac Olizarów or Lapacinskich) from 18th c. in late baroque and clasical style covered by baroque red-tiled roof. It houses stylish Shakespeare Hotel now.
A house close to St. Michael church, built in the first half of 17th century but mostly rebuilt in 18th century where A. Mickievicius Memorial Apartment (Adamo Mickeviciaus Memorialinis butas-muziejus) is located since second half of 19th century. The Polish national epic, Adam Mickiewicz hired the apartment there in 1822 (April - June) when he came back from Kaunas. Hmm... I didn't visit it, next time... Well, just in case you want to visit it:
Tue - Fri: 10.00 am - 5.00 pm,
Sat - Sun: 10.00 am - 2.00 pm
Entrance fee: 2 Lt.
Many pitched roofs of old houses covered by ceramic red tiles with roof windows looked amazing.
Just one example on the picture taken from the top of the Gediminas Tower (look southwards towards Russian Orthodox
church of the Holy Mother). The buidings were located west of Maironio gatve, close to St. Michael Church (on the background on the picture).
As seen in the picture, the houses on the main streets are renovated and painted nicely, but if you'll take a look inside the alleys, you can see the original fronts of the houses.
This contrast really symbolizes of the past and the future in this city.
Strolling through the big houses of the old city, you can find different plaques of commemoration of different important figures in the life of the local Jewish community. Some of them are known, some others aren't.
It's nice to see that when they renovated the houses - plastered and painted them - they left the old plaques.