Vilnius

Vilnius Old Town tour

02 Sep 2017
Gabrielius Jauniškis

Begin at Vilnius Cathedral (J-8) and take a peek inside at the Baroque St Casimir’s Chapel. Climb the cathedral bell-tower for views, learn a bit of history at the Palace of the Grand Dukes and the National Museum, then jump on the funicular up to Gediminas Castle for more fine views (though the castle and hill may be closed due to subsidence issues). Stroll back down and head south to J-9 and Gothic St Anne’s. Cross the River Vilnia into Užupis to see the Angel monument, the witty ‘constitution’ and arty shops, galleries and cafés before heading west back across the river past the white Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Mother of God and up Latako to find charmingly tiny St Paraskeva, visited in 1705 by tsar Peter the Great who served here as godfather to Abram Gannibal, Afro-Russian nobleman and great-grandfather of Alexander Pushkin.
Proceed southwards up Didžioji, popping into Vilnius Picture Gallery if you’re intrigued by art history, then passing stunning Baroque structures like St Casimir’s, the Basilian Gate, the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit and St Theresa’s with its gorgeous interior, to find the Gates of Dawn (J-11) and its miraculous image of the Virgin Mary. Pass under the gate and turn right to walk down Bazilijonų to get a taste of the real Lithuania at Halės Market (I-11) before heading north again. On a building at the corner of Visų Šventųjų and Rūdininkų is a map showing the terror-stricken ‘ghetto’ where the city’s large Jewish population was herded between 1941 and 1943.
On Vokiečių, a leafy a leafy avenue lined with shops, cafés and restaurants, is a modern building housing the Contemporary Art Centre (I-10). Down at the bottom of the street, hang a right to discover the magical interior of the Church of the Holy Spirit and, turning left onto Universiteto, the Alumnatas Courtyard. Further down Universiteto is the entrance to Vilnius University, through which you can explore its courtyards, frescoes in the Littera bookshop and, up the steps, St John’s and its separate bell-tower with sweeping Old Town views.
That concludes your Old Town tour. Now relax with a well-deserved brew at one of the restaurants or summer terraces on or around Pilies Street (J-9), or just do some shopping.

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