Old Town of Vilnius
The largest city in Lithuania and its capital Vilnius. According to the legend, the Grand Duke Gediminas had a dream about an iron wolf standing on a hill. The wolf was howling, it seemed 100 wolves should be howling at a time. The dream was strange and Gediminas decided to ask the the priest what it could mean. The priest told Gediminas: „Iron wolf means power, loud howling is good new about us for the rest of the world“ and adviced to build a castle on topo f the hill (known as the Upper Castle) and a city around it. In 1323 the Grand Duke Gediminas founded a new capital at the cofluence of the two rivers, Neris and Vilnia. founded the city here on the advice of a pagan priest, the greatness of which is spread all over the world.
We will start our city tour on Cathedral Square in fronto f the major Roman Catholic churc the Cathedral-Basilika and the bell tower nearby. It is popular meeting place. By the sound of chiming bells passers-by chec time, lovers are sure to be on the dot if they made a date. Next to the statue of Gedimnas you can see the reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (known former Lower Castle). It is a symbol of Lithuania‘s longstanding statehood. Once the rulers lived, got married, celebrated, negotiated in it.
We continue our walk on the main street of the Old Town. It has threee different names. At the beginning it is called Pilies or Castle and it has always been commercial. Renaissance and Gothic style buildings line it up on both sides. The Church of St. Anne, an unsurpassed masterpiece in flamboyant Gothic style is rather close. Build out of uild out of uild out of 33 different shape of red bricks it is stunning indeed. No wonder, Napoleon was so amazed by its beauty that was ready to take it over to Paris on his. Luckilly he couldn‘t lift it.
Furher we will visit one of the oldest higer schools in Eastern Europe – Vilnius University. The door of its old library are decorated with the history of a Lithuanian book and the mystical kites of Baltic culture, which bring success. The façade of the old university building is still adorned with symbols of space bodies and tools to explore them. The first observatory was established here. The courtyards and walls of the University developed many important personalities for Lithuania.
Sometimes Vilnius is nicknamed Northen Italy. In the courtyard of Alumnatas (Alumni house), we will feel as if were in Italy. The former Ecclesiatical Seminary with Italian Renaisance and early Baroque arcades operated in one of the most beatiful courtyards in Vilnius. The main courtyard of the Presidencial Palace in underneath, however no guards.
Literatų Street is the most popular project of artists implemented in Vilnius Old Town. Here, on the wall of buildings and a brick fence, you will see the works of Vilnius Academy of Arts students for writers and poets who are in one way or another related to Vilnius. Most of the works are dedicated to Lithuanian writers, but you can also find works of art dedicated to famous foreign literature masters.
We will take a walk around the Glass Quarter, which counts more than 600 years of history. Once occupied most of what is now the Old Town, it was a Jewish residence, a town of goldsmiths, glassblowers, craftsmen and financiers. As if hidden among the city’s major streets, the quarter still houses jewelers, local artists’ and craftsmen’s shops and workshops, cozy restaurants, a chamber orchestra, art galleries and one of the oldest functioning Stikliai hotel.
On one of the most important Town Hall squares, we will try to guess from the colorful buildings, which are the oldest and most reminiscent of trade times. The City Hall in Vilnius refers to an autonomous city with its own self-government. And who made it up and how was trade regulated?
Although Vilnius was on the outskirts of Europe and all architectural tendencies reached it only 200 years late, the Baroque was the era that began in Vilnius as it did in the whole of Europe. We will see the first baroque patron saint of Lithuania Casimir’s Church, the cornerstone of which was enroled by 700 men a couple of kilometers away. The dome is adorned with a crown.
Walking up the street towards the Gate of Dawn, we will find ourselves in the so-called part of the Old Town, the triangle of religions. Vilnius has long been known as a multicultural and tolerant city, so here we will be able to see Catholics, Orthodox and Greek Catholics coexisting in a small patch of land. We will end the tour at the Gate of Dawn the most important Catholic shrine in Lithuania, in the chapel where Popes, John Paul II and Francis prayed. The painting of the St. Virgin Mary, known as the Madonna of the Gate of the Dawn, important to all religions, is famous for mercy, and its copies are kept in the churches of many countries.