Welcome to Vilnius!
This is the first post of my Baltic Diaries in which I’ll explore the capital cities of the three Baltic Nations Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania with you. Let’s start with the most southern one: Lithuania
Vilnius the capital city has a population of just over 542,000 and is famous for its many cathedrals & castles. The beautiful medieval old town, which is a listed UNESCO World Heritage site, consists mainly of buildings from the baroque and classical periods and is a dream for lovers of fine architecture!
One of the main attractions is Cathedral Square with the gorgeous Vilnius Cathedral. If you walk around the square keep your eyes on the ground and try to find the Stebuklas Tile. It’s hard to pinpoint its exact location as there are no official directions or signs to indicate where it is. According to local belief you have to find it yourself simply by looking for it – I stumbled upon it totally by accident and didn’t even know it existed until I stood on it (it certainly wasn’t on my tourist map!). The Stebuklas (“Miracle”) Tile marks an important event in recent history: in 1989 about 2 million people formed the longest uninterrupted human chain all the way from Tallinn in Estonia via Riga in Latvia down to Vilnius to protest against Soviet occupation.
From Cathedral Square you can hike up to the Gediminas Castle from where you can enjoy great views over the city!
One of my favorite random moments in the city was when I discovered some pretty cool 3-D street art on walls in the old town & some more on the house of a tea company including cute little tea pots!
And then there is the independent Republic of Uzupis... which is of course not an official country, neither is it recognized as such by any other nation. This Vilnius neighbourhood declared independence on the 1st of April 1997 and has its own government & constitution (which has been put up on a wall in several languages and is another example of creative Lithuanian street-art). Every year on April fool’s day they celebrate their Independence Day and tourists can even get their passports stamped here! However, the whole endeavour is probably more tongue-in-cheek than a serious effort to become an independent nation. It is definitely a hip and fun part of Vilnius and a must-see on your itinerary!
I hope you enjoyed the first part of my Baltic Diaries. Stay tuned for the next one in which I'll take you to Latvia! :)