Sunday, 1 July 2018

Lithuania: A Walking Tour Of Vilnius Old Town

The Old Town of Vilnius has a history that dates back to the 13th century. Its lineup of historical buildings with an impressive and extensive mixture of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical architectural styles and the well preserved layout of the town has earned it a spot on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The best way to get to know the town is to do a leisurely walk along its streets. Starting from Cathedral Square and walking along streets, Šventaragio Gatvė, Pilles Gatve, Bernardiny Gatve, Mykolo Gatve, Literatu Gatve, Ausros Vartu Gatve before ending up in the Town Hall square along Didžioji Gatve, I got to see a host of interesting monuments and experience Vilnius unique culture and lifestyle.  

Below are the highlights of my walking tour.
Cathedral Square was founded in the 19th century and is the most important and famous square in Lithuania. The imposing building that stands on it is Vilnius Cathedral. Just meters away from the cathedral is the Bell Tower. 

Vilnius Cathedral has ornate designs with intricate finishing. It is said to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.

Beautiful both from the outside and inside Vilnius Cathedral is open to the public with no entrance charges.

Towards the rear of the cathedral lies the Monument to Grand Duke Gediminas
who was the founder of Vilnius and Trakai. He was also one of the most famous rulers of Lithuania.

At the back of the cathedral is the reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. It is now a museum featuring a variety of art, archaeology & history exhibits.

There are many narrow streets in the old town of Vilnius. Bernardinu Gatve (street) is mostly walled on both sides and whenever there are openings, you get to see a nice property with a garden, courtyard and all within the wall. 

The Shakespeare Hotel is one such property. This hotel was built on the foundation of a 16th century palace. 

Arches are a common feature seen in Vilnius Old Town and they add to the aesthetic charm of the town.

While many buildings have been rebuilt, Church of St Anne has been preserved for 500 years. This masterpiece of an architecture is located towards the end of Bernadinu Gatve.  It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte was so fascinated by the beauty of this building, he wanted to take it back to Paris in 'the palm of his hand'. 

Walking a short stretch on Mykolo Gatve I came across this building which is believed to be a government building.

Another majestic building seen on Mykolo Gatve is the restored Church Of St Michael The Archangel. This premise has been turned into a church heritage museum.

A very interesting street to explore is Literatu Gatve (Literature Street) which is dedicated to people who contributed to Lithuanian literature. There are walls which features about 200 wooden, ceramic, glass or metal tiles engraved with Lithuania's most famous literary names and some of the exhibits are rather quaint. 

Pillies Gatve (Castle Street) is the main street in the old town. There are many beautiful buildings along the entire stretch of this road.

There is an open air market outside St. Paraskeva Church on Pillies Gatve.

The Gate Of Dawn at Aušros Vartų Gatve is a prominent landmark in Vilnius Old Town.  It is the only gate that survived out of the first original five gates in the city wall that was built between 1503 and 1522. There is a chapel above the gate with the icon of Virgin Mother Mary.

Another very beautiful gate on Aušros Vartų Gatve is Basilian Gate which is the entrance into the Church and Monastery of Holy Trinity.

In the vicinity of Basilian Gate is the Church of St Theresa, one of the earliest Baroque buildings in Lithuania. This grand looking church was built using very expensive materials.

One of the most impressive buildings along Didžioji Gatve is Saint Casimir Church. It is also the oldest baroque church in Vilnius.

Another building on Didžioji Gatve that towers high is Church of St Nicholas. This is a 16th century Russian Orthodox Church.

I walked as far as the town hall which stands on Town Hall Square before walking back to Cathedral Square.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Very clean city! Goodluck Lily! Hope to see more from you..

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