Vilnius is the gateway to Lithuania and the Baltic States, being situated in an advantageous geographical location in Europe. The airport is within half an hour of the centre of the city. It has direct links with 18 cities and there is regular bus service to 7 countries.
Vilnius is famous not only for its historical past, monuments, churches and green surroundings. There are also many industrial enterprises with an educated labour force. Highly qualified workers produce goods of high precision and qu
The Old Part of Vilnius is among the most prominent monuments of culture in the world. Epoch-making European styles have left their distinct traces in the city’s architecture: Gothic, Renaissance, baroque and classical. The group of churches of St Ann, St Bernardine and St Michael form an impressive monument to the Gothic and Renaissance styles and are a distinctive feature of the architecture of Old Vilnius. The brick gothic facade of St Ann’s church has no equal in the whole of Eastern Europe. The Church of St Peter and St Paul is an example of late baroque architecture and sculpture. St Casimir’s church is a marvellous monument of baroque architecture which gave rise to the cooonstruction of buildings with domes. The museums of the Upper and the Lower Castles, the Cathedral and the Bell Tower commemorate the foundation of the Capital City. The Radvilu Palace, the Chodkeviciu Palace and the M.K. Ciurlionis house-museum introduce famous personalities in Vilnius and cultural riches which were gathered in Vilnius throughout the centuries. By contrast the KGB Museum records the horrors of post-World War II times.
The modern culture of Vilnius fully reflects the diversity of city life. Evenings offf classical music and competitions are held at the Philharmonic Society Hall. Operas, ballets and plays are staged at the Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Youth Theatre, the Academic Drama Theatre. There are seven art galleries and a modern art centre where it is possible to get to know the works of Lithuanian artists and to purchase the work you like. The Lithuanian capital is famous for its commercial fairs and exhibitions.
Almost all hotels and a dormitory for young people are situated in the central part of the city. There are many restaurants and cafés where you can find a great variety of different foods, from Lithuanian to East European or North American dishes.
There are plenty of shops and department stores selling high-quality goods from all over the world and open twenty-four hours a day. There are several antique shops. Private clinics and beauty salons are rapidly expanding their activities.
One of the most famous architectorial monuments in Vilnius is Vilnius Cathedral, standing at the foot of Gediminas’ Hill. It was built in 1387, in the place where an old PERKUNAS (Thunder) Temple stood at that time. The first Cathedral church was wooden. After the fire in 1399, only a heap of ashes remained there. After some time with the help and financial support of the Great Duke Vytautas, it was rebuilt. Now it is a unique building of classicism.
The western chapel, very often called.the chapel of Gediminas Castle, is octagonal which bricks are laid on a square foundation. Very large bricks and stones from the fields were used for building. The thickness of the walls is 3 metres. In the past the chapel was higher and it had a cone form with a tile roof. The Vilnius ethnography and History Museum is settled in the Western Tower.
The hill of the castle on which the castle stands is situated on the junction of the rivers Vilnelė and Neris. The Upper castle is an example of Lithuanian Gothics. Nowadays’ ruins on the hill of the castle are in reality a partially restored western Chapel and the walls around it. They are dated to the XIV century.
St. Annes Church
Walking in the narrow medieval streets of the Old Town, you can see much of the architecture which gave Vilnius its name as a Baroque city. Many other architectural styles can been seen here, particularly the Gothic and Renaissance buildings that date from the 15th and 16th centuries, a period of prosperity which saw Vilnius grow enormously.
Particularly fascinating are the churches of St Anne, St Michael and the Bernardine Church to be found in Pilies Street, which up to the 19th century was the citys main thoroughfare, lined with the houses of the aristocracy and the centre of its commercial and artisan life.
Vilnius University was founded in 1579. It is one of the most important educational institutions in our republic and Europe. There are very modern laboratories, the complex of courting technique, very rich about, 3.8 million volume library. It has got a science library with unique fonds too. Students can gain about thirty specialities and more than seventy qualifications. It is especially worth seeing Vilnius University for its spectacular courtyards named after the professors Sarbievijus, Poczobut and Skarga, and for St. John’s Church. Then follow Pilies Street into Didzioji Street, which leads to Town Hall Square, the old centre of the political, economical, social and cultural life of Vilnius.
Kaunas – second city to Vilnius. The city is located at the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris rivers. In 1992 Kaunas had 433 thousand inhabitants and a territory of 11579 ha, 1745 ha are occupied by forests and appr. 1200 ha are covered by rivers and lakes. The first documentary references about Kaunas were made in 1361. In 1408 Kaunas was awarded the Magdeburg rights.
Between the Nemunas and the Neris rivers is the Old Town. Its territory – 106 ha. The Old Town of Kaunas is an archeological, historical and architectural monument. Among the architecture masterpieces are the buildings in the Gothic style: ruins of masonry stone castle, Vytautas Church, St. George’s Church, the Cathedral, some residential houses from the XV-XVIth centuries in the Town Hall Square, Perkunas (the Thunder) House. St.Gertruda’s Church, some residential houses from the XVIth century – are a mixture of the Gothic and Baroque styles. The Church of the Holy Trinity, Town Hall, the palaces of Zabielai – these are the buildings with the combined Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. The Maironis House, the post office in the Town Hall square, the Church of Protestants and Lutherans is Kaunas Renaissance – a special Northern European variance of this style.
Architecture of Baroque: the Church of the Jesuits with the college, and the Church of the Carmelites. One of the most prominent monuments of the Baroque style is the architectural ensemble of Pazaislis which was started in 1667.
The buildings of Classic architecture are the: palace of Aukstoji Freda, and the horse post office station at the Town Hall. From the middle of the XIXth century many of the buildings were built according to the so called model facades: the musical theatre, neo-byzantine church (Soboras). In the second-third decades of the XXth century Neo-classicism, modern and the so called Lithuanian style dominated the architecture of Lithuania. The modern-buildings of the third-fourth decades are characterized by Western European architecture and their harmonic integration.
Kaunas has many hotels, cafes, restaurants and museums, which you cannot find anywhere else in the world, several theatres, art galleries. You will be met everywhere with hospitality.
Klaipeda – is third city in the west, located at a strait connecting the Kursiu Marios (Courland lagoon) with the Baltic sea. The city has 208 thousand inhabitants, a very complicated history, the dynamic presence and promising perspective. Klaipeda has the only ice-free port in the Republic of Lithuania, which is the largest one in all the Baltic states. The city is situated in the teritory of 6706 ha of which 1914 ha are covered by forests.
The ancient Baltic lands and settelments were repeatedly raidedand plundered by vikings in early IXth century, and from the XIIIth century – by the German feudal rulers due to their geographic position and economic importance. In 1254 a masonary castle called Memelburg was built. In the middle of the XIIIth century a city began to grow in the eastern direction from the castle. In 1258 the city received the states of the Lubeck Law City. Klaipeda and its surroundings devastated by foreigners for long centuries, being under political, economic and national oppresion, fought long for their social and cultural rights.
Lithuanians love to go to the sea, and after one trip to this area you will quickly understand why.
Guests of the town are accommodated in 11 hotels. Those interested in sports can make use of stadiums, the plentiful gyms, 3 swimming pools, a yacht club, a bicycle track, a track-and- field athletics facility and other facilities, and those who are ill can receive medical aid in 8 hospitals.
The great treasures of Klaipeda include the Giruliai wood, parks, almost 10 km of beautiful sand beaches, and also, of course, the Maritime Museum and Aquarium with a Dolphinarium and the Kursiu Nerija in a beautiful setting, created by the sea, winds and human hands. Please, do not miss a chance to visit Klaipeda and Amber coast.
NERINGA – a town encompassing the entire Lithuanian part of the Curonian Spit (94.4 square kilometers), Neringa is home to the longest street in the country. The four settlements of the Curonian Spit (Juodkrante, Pervalka, Preila, and Nida) are all situated on the road, which is approximately 50 kolometers long.
The landscape of the Curonian Spit is extremely fragile and vulnerable. Its entire beauty is a layer of life tended carefully by man on top of dunes of blown sand. For this reason, visitation in Neringa is limited. Cars may only be driven and parked on asphalt, and it is recommended that they be kept in protective lots, which can now be found in all four of the settlements.
To get to the Curonian Spit from Klaipeda, it is necessary to take a ferry across the Curonian Lagoon. The 10 minute ferry ride somehow seems to calm travellers down and prepare them for the breath-taking beauty of the spit.
While visiting Neringa, be sure to note the unique old architecture of the Pamarys (“Sea-cost”) region. There are old fishermen houses in each of the four settlements. As a rule, the houses are partitioned into two parts – one for the family and one for quests. the two parts are divided by a corridor which is usually about 2 meters wide. Most of the buildings are constructed of square logs, and the walls are planked with vertical light-brown or bluish boards. The roofs are covered with either tile or reeds. Almost all of the fishermen houses face the lagoon, and even the flower gardens are planted on the lagoon side. Each of the Neringa settlements is unique in its own way.
Juodkrante (19 km from Klaipeda) – perhaps the most “stable” settlement in Neringa, Juodkrante remained in place even during the “sand-blowing” period (18th-19th centuries), as it was nearby a natural spit forest which protected it from the winds. In the second half of the 19th century, amber was industrially extracted in Juodkrante. The name “Gintaro Ilanka” (“Amber Bay”) still remains from this period.Travellers enjoy climbing to the top of Raganos Kalnas (“Hill of Witches”), where an ensemble of comic folk sculptures was erected in 1979. A path leads you through groups of witches, devils, and fairy-tale monsters. You can talk to the witch into whose ear whispered wishes are said to come true, and you can sit on the bench which is said to cure all diseases.
Nida (48 km from Klaipeda) – the central settlement in Neringa, Nida is also apparently the oldest. Nida’s roots are located farther off from its current location. Nida is a tourist mecca primarily for its landscape. Urbas Hill (52 m) was first dune to be planted with trees and shrubs. The lighthouse (23 m) which was built on the hill in 1874 was later destroyed by the Nazis. If you climb to the top of Urbas Hill you can get a broad panorama of the spit – from the sea to the waters of the Curonian Lagoon. Not far from Nida is the Great Dune (which measured 45 m in 1988). “Eserine” Cafe, which is situated on a picturesque whart, is very unique from an architectural point of view. Its large windows provide a magnificent view of the Great Dunes, which makes the cafe a cozy place to sit, admire the scenery, and sample Kursh cuisine. Nevertheless, the best way to relax and enjoy Nida is still to walk along the quiet paths that wind through the dunes or along the shores of the sea and the lagoon.
Pervalka (34 km from Klaipeda) – situated on the shore of the Curonian Lagoon near the Pervalka Peninsula, the settlement has been known of since 1836. The original settlers were actually emigrants who “dragged” their riches to Pervalka when their villages had been buried in sand. It is believes that this is way the settlement was called Pervalka, which might be translated as “dragged here”. The northern prominence of the Pervalka Peninsula is called Arkliu Ragas (“Cape of Horses”). In the lagoon near the cape is a small lighthouse. The southern shore of the peninsula is called Pervalka Cape. A bit farther from the lagoon on Pervalka is Skirpstas Dune (53 m), which has been planted with small pines. Karvaiciai village, which was on the southern shore of Pervalka Cape until it was buried by dunes in the beginning of the 19th century, was the home of the Lithuanian poet Liudvikas Reza (1776-1840).
Preila (39 km from Klaipeda) – situated near the Preila Peninsula, which is “framed” in the north by Ozku Ragas (“Goats’ Cape”), and in the south – by the Small Preila Cape. The settlement was founded in 1843 by refugees from a nearby village (some 3 km to the north) which was buried in sand. Preila is home to several old fishermen cottages which have recently been restored.
The district is situated in the north-eastern part of the country and borders on the Republic of Latvia. It covers 133,400 hectares and has a population of 25,100. The administrative seat is in the town of Zarasai. The foundation of Zarasai dates back to the 16th century. The district has 304 lakes, the total area of which is 1338 hectares. There are 8 rivers and 19 artificial water reservoirs. The area of forest land is greater than average for the country, with pine groves predominating.
Tourism promises to become one of the more successful areas of economic development. Facilities for relaxation have been established near the Asavas, Smalvos, Samanis, Sartai, and Luodis lakes. Some of the buildings have been neglected; however, there is hope that they will be utilized in the future. The farm vacation branch of tourism also has potential.
The most impressive of the over 150 cultural landmarks are the following: StelmuZe church (1650), Antaliepte watermill (1855); a former monastery and the former manor of StelmuZe. StelmuZe is a small village that is famous for having one of the oldest oak trees in Europe. It is said the StelmuZe Oak is over 1500 years old. Its height is 23 metres, and the trunk measures 13.5 metres in circumference. StelmuZe is famous not only for its oak trees. It has a unique church that was built in 1650 by the manor serfs. The unique thing about it is that it was built using only axes and mallets, without using saws or nails. At the beginning of the 18th century, the church was decorated with the most beautiful wood carvings.
Dusetos is the second largest town in the district with over one thousand inhabitants. Its history dates back to the 15th century. Horsemanship enthusiasts arrive in Dusetos from all over Lithuania each winter to watch horse trotting races on the frozen Lake Sartai. The Sartai State Stables and the Flying Club are centres of entertainment and sports. The Zarasai Ranger Station organizes hunting expeditions and provides other types of services for those enjoying their leisure time.
Information for tourists
Before you leave
All travellers are advised to take out comprehensive travel insurance. Make sure it covers all the countries you will be visiting and any sports in which you intend to participate. Ensure your policy covers the cost of ambulances and medical evacuation. Foreign visitors are entitled to free emergency treatment, but have to pay for other medical services.
To drive in Lithuania, you will need an International Driving Permit, obtainable from the driver licensing authority, motoring organizations, or other designated authority in your country of residence. Ask your motor vehicle insurance companies to confirm what insurance documents are necessary and whether additional insurance is required.
Rules of the road
Always carry your full valid driving license and International Driving Permit, vehicle registration documents, and insurance documents with you in the car. Traffic drives on the right in Lithuania. The driver and front-seat passengers must wear seat belts. It is an offence to drive after drinking any alcohol.
In car parks, you buy a ticket from a booth or machine and display it behind the windscreen. For safety, use a guarded car park whenever possible (most large hotels have one).
Notes and coins
The official monetary unit is the litas (LTL or Lt). There are 100 cents in a litas. Notes are issued in denominations of 100Lt, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1. Coins are issued in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cents. Notes of 500 litas and 1,000 litas are expected to be issued shortly.
How to pay
Travelers cheques are the safest way to carry money, and you should buy these in your own country before you leave. However, they are not generally accepted in restaurants and shops. All major credit cards are accepted in large hotels, shops, restaurants, and petrol stations.
Business and opening hours
Office hours are generally 09.00 to 18.00 Monday to Friday. Shops are generally open from 09.00 to 18.00 or 20.00 Monday to Friday, and from 10.00 to 16.00 on Saturday and Sunday. Many shops and offices close at lunchtime. Most museums are generally open from 11.00 to 18.00 and are closed on Monday or Tuesday.