Vilnius is the capital of Lithuanian Republic. It’s the largest city in our country and it is political, scientific, cultural and industrial centre too. The central bodies of the republic power — parliament, called the Seimas, Government, various ministries, TV and Radio stations, editorial offices of republic newspapers, theatres, museums are located in Vilnius.The first documentary reference to Vilnius dates back to 1323, when the Great Duke Gediminas proclaimed Vilnius the capital of Lithuanian state and invited foreign artists, scientists, builders to come live and work here. Vilnius has got a very beautiful Old Town, which reminds us the history of our native country. In the centre of the Old Town, on the Castle hill, stands the Gediminas Tower, a part of an old castle built 6 centuries ago. There is a square in slope of the Castle Hill. It’s called the Cathedral square, because there is a cathedral in the centre of it. This cathedral, reconstructed in the end of the 18th century by the famous Lithuanian architect Stuoka-Gucevichius, is the most important catholic church in Lithuania.Vilnius is a mixture of the main architectural styles: Baroque, Classicism, Renaissance and Gothic. The church of St. Anna is considered to be a Gothic masterpiece, the Gediminas castle is a representative of Gothic style too. Well-known representative of Baroque is the church of St. Peter and Paul. The Italian sculptors worked on the masterpieces of art of this church. There are thousands of sculptures in it. Classicism dominates in some Cathedral, University buildings. Vilnius University is very old, it was established in 1579.There are many new districts built in the latest 30 years: Lazdynai, Baltupiai (shame of Vilnius), Karolinishkes, Fabijonishkes, Justinishkes. I don’t admire such “modern” houses of blocks, factories, standing in the centre of the city.Despite this, I don’t want to criticise Vilnius more. It’s my native town and I couldn’t live in any other town.
Vilnius is a culture city. Many artists live and create here; many varied culture institutions offer a chance to see our arts, listen to music of the local and performers.
There are lot of museums in the Old Town with interesting original and quality displays. Vilnius history and culture dates from he Stone Age to present which you will meet in the Lithuanian National Museum. The remains of a portion of the 16th century fortification is also a museum – Artillery Bastion, which tells about the colourful history of the town and about the city’s defence system. The branches of the Lithuanian Art Museum have been established in former nobles’ palaces, so they are always attractive and interesting. Some of the museums in Vilnius display exhibits not only from Lithuania but foreign countries as well. After the opening of the large Baroque applied art and paintings exhibitions, Vilnius Picture Gallery of the Lithuanian Art Museum Feature Baroque music concerts that totally restore old time’s atmosphere.
So, if you are looking for something special in life, you can hardly choose a better city than Vilnius because it’s all happening here.
What could be more pleasant than a visit to the Vilnius Opera And Ballet Theatre? With a well-known international repertoire the theatre gives interesting productions featuring famous international and local artists.
Excellent for its acoustics, the National Philharmonic invites you to listen to a wide variety of the classics.
Many drama theatres are venues for excitement in the town. Our Youth Theatre performs a repertoire of modern productions by the world famous director Eimuntas Nekrošius. Other countries’ experimental groups perform regularly in Vilnius, too.
If you are interested in modern art, you’ll find more than 20 galleries in the Old Town. Galleries offer a rich selection of traditional and Avant – garde painting, sculpture and mixed media. You’ll find many fine pieces of unique jewellery and local art forms as well.
Young artists love make installations in courtyards of the Old Town.
Regardless of your reason for being in Vilnius, everywhere you will find welcoming citizens who will find welcoming citizens who will do their best to make sure you have a GOOD TIME. Surrounded by high green hills and framed by the silvery rivers spreads the city of Vilnius.
Vilnius is famed for its modern industry, its scholars and artists, traditions and hospitality. Every day the city receives thousands of guests who display a lively interest in its diverse and peculiar architecture, contemporary urbanistic thought, vast constructions.
The exact date of the first corner-stone of the city is shrowded in the mists of history. Archeologists maintain that it was laid at the beginning of the 10th century. But the first recorded date of the city is the year of 1323 when Grand Duke Gediminas transferred the country’s capital from Trakai to Vilnius and sent out letters to many foreign countries inviting craftsmen and merchants – people of the most peaceful trades – to come and settle there.
Further history of Vilnius can be read from its architectural ensembles, squares and parks, lanes and courtyards. It is reflected in the stone plastic and contours of the city, intertwined with light and shade. This “music in stone” eludes the mind, it appeals directly to the senses, intensifies admiration.
Vilnius charms both its residents and guests by architectural taste and skill, the harmony which exists between its nature and architecture.
The defensive wall determined the layout and the sky-line of Vilnius for centuries to come. From far away could be seen the white tower of the churches, the closed-in courtyards of the monastic and feudal possessions, the clusters of the humble dwellings of townspeople. Narrow streets populated by craftsmen, usually members of the same guild, crisscrossed the city, many of them opened and closed with an arch supporting the walls of the neighbouring houses and also serving as gates which could be closed during enemy invasions or lord feuds. All this is shown in detail and with great precision in the J. Braun Atlas published in Cologne in 1576.
The first buildings and pavements in Vilnius, and even the water supply pipes which brought water to the city from the Vingriai Springs were made of timber. They all perished in the great fires which swept the city several times in close succession. Only the remnants of their foundations are sometimes unearthed by archeologists. In the middle of the 15th century the timbered buildings were replaced by stone and brick build in the Gothic sometimes in the Romanesque style.
The Upper Castle, presently known as Gediminas Castle, is to be held one of the first constructions in the Gothic style. Archeologists maintain that as early as the middle of the 14th century it had already been a stone construction. At the beginning of the 15th century the top of the hill was encircled with a stone wall complete with three towers and three-storeyed palace in the courtyard. This brick-and-stone building had a spacious hall on the first door.
The remains of this primitive, though solid, erection, once used for the purposes of defence, are a sort of the Vilnius Acropolis, a testimony of the city’s hoary antiquity.
In 1388 a small brick cathedral, the predecessor of the present one, was constructed on the site of the Lower Castle. It was shortly followed by St Anne’s Church, the foundations of which are the only survivors.
Only the Gothic buildings of the 15th and the 16th centuries, reconstructed more than once at some later dates, have reached us in the 21st century. Those are St Nicholas’ Church – two modest houses of worship, reserved in a northern way. The limitations of the ordinary brick and the still budding traditions of masonry in Lithuania restricted the use of the Gothic element to the minimum, pointed windows, portal arches and vaulted ceilings. Yet as time went on , the masters of Vilnius became more and more confident, they came to rely more and more boldly on local construction materials. We can see this in the wonderful tracery and the stellar vaults of the Bernardine Church supported by pillars of exquisite grace and gem of the Gothic, St Anne’s Church, built of red brick.
With the advent of the Renaissance and Reformation in the mid-sixteenth century, Renaissance architecture gained a foothold in Vilnius. The constructions became rational and moderate. The style was propagated chiefly by Italian masters, patronized by Grand Dukes Žygimantas Augustas also as by some noblemen. They began their activities in Vilnius with the construction of the Lower Castle. Later wars reduced this sumptuous palace to ruins whose drawings made by the contemporaries are everything that has been left to us. Specimens of the Renaissance style, or their remains, – the Medininkai (Aušra) Gate in the town wall, St Nicholas’ Church, University quadrangles, the former alumnat, some dwelling houses with high attics, though reconstructed and remodeled in the course of time make up a peculiar page in the history of the Vilnius architecture.
The Renaissance style, just as the ideas of reformation and humanism, lived but a short life in Vilnius. The Catholic Church recovered and hastened to enhance its influence through art. At that time the baroque style was flourishing in Europe. The straight lines and plain surface of the Renaissance were superseded by the plasticity, dynamics and florid ornamentation of the baroque. It appealed also to the Lithuanian feudal lords. This lasted for about a hundred and fifty years. Today Vilnius is often called a baroque city.
The gem of the Vilnius baroque is Sts Peter and Paul’s Church, built in the second half of the 17th century, designed and constructed by the architect J.Zaora, commissioned by the landowner M.Pacas. Although the exterior of the cathedral is also attractive, it is for the cathedral is mostly famed. It was decorated by Lithuanian sculptors and painters under the supervisions of the Italian masters P.Peretti and G.Galli. The talented masters seemed to have forgotten that they were decorating a house of worship. In the presence of the saints mischievous cupids kiss in the chapel a Renaissance mother suckles her baby, field flowers and a simple lady’s bag intertwine in a splendid ornamentation. Even the theme or social inequality finds its place here. About 2,000 sculptures join in a hymn of praise to man’s creative abilities and dance a marry dance round the graceful dome.
The triangular Kutuzov Square is today shining with the reconstructed Artists’, formerly Representation, Palace designed by V.Stasov (1769-1848). The facade looking on the square is notable for its rhythmical layout of the whole corpus; it consists of three blocks linked by two rows of Doric columns. Still more impressive is the courtyard façade. Its beauty is due to a gallery of eight Ionic columns built on a huge second-floor balcony. The palace courtyard, in classic style too, is one of the most beautiful courtyards in Vilnius. During recent times the interior of the palace has been restored on scientific research. Thus at present the Artists’ Palace represents the first ensemble of the capital restored in a composite way.
Cosiness and beauty reign inside the new buildings. The architects of Vilnius are famed as most ingenious masters of the interior, synthesizers of arts in architecture. To their assistance come the talented Lithuanian monumental artists in stained-glass, mosaic, fresco painting, metalwork, ceramics, textile. The main features of the present-day Vilnius interior are brought out by harmonious proportions of the premises, functional well-appointedness, spaciousness and cosiness, the national character predetermined by century-old traditions. The noble modesty of expression means and the emotionally tinted warming colour scales are obtained by employing natural materials as plaster, wood, decorative brick, ceramics etc. It is those advantages that the interior of the “Neringa” and “Tauras” cafes boast, the present-day trend in interior designing.
It should be pointed out that while vigorously marching into the future Vilnius is also considerate of the past. By a decree issued by Republic’s Council of Ministers the Old Town of Vilnius has been proclaimed a zone of protection by the states, and large sums are allocated for its reconstruction and regeneration. Reconstructed are entire blocks, revived are most valuable features of the buildings, provided are all modern conveniences. The newly-born streets house fashion show salons, cafes.