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A weekend in Lithuania
2008Vilnius
Vilnius by night
Let's start with some photos of Vilnius by night, OK?

Vilnius is one of Europe’s best kept secrets and treasures.

Imagine the perfect European town: pedestrian streets, a castle, baroque and gothic churches, medieval houses, good food, good beer, beautiful girls, good shopping malls and overall, cheap. Well, that’s Vilnius!

The perfect spot if you want to feel Europe at its best.
Gates of the Church of he Holy Trinity in Vilnius, by night

If I had to describe Vilnius in just one word, then it would be this one: Baroque.

You have baroque churches, baroque buildings, baroque paintings and baroque music playing somewhere as you walk around... If you arrive by air, the first thing you see is of course the airport and... the arrivals hall is a baroque style building!

Vilnius by night

Vilnius could be divided in three different parts: the area around Gediminas Hill, the old town, and the new town.

Vilnius’ Old Town is a magic place. With its 3.6 km˛, it’s actually Europe’s biggest old town. That should give you an idea of how rich Vilnius’ story is.

There are dozens of churches around, each one more magnificent than the others.

Metal Traveller having lunch in Vilnius, not far from the University

Vilnius could be divided in three different parts: the area around Gediminas Hill, the old town, and the new town.

According to the legend, Vilnius was founded on Gediminas Hill in the 14th Century.
After a full day of hunting, Grand Duke Gediminas spent the night around that hill.
He had a dream about an iron wolf on the top of the hill howling “as loud as a hundred wolves”.

Vilnius: The Gates Of Dawn

His dream was interpreted by priest Lizdeika: the Wolf represents a Castle and a city which shall be established there. Its reputation would spread “as far as the howling of the mysterious wolf”. You can find more about the Vilnius Legend here.

Vilnius Gates Of Dawn

This is Aušros Vartai, or the Gate of Dawn.

It is the only of the nine city gates of Vilnius that remains today, all others were destroyed in the 18th century.
This one was spared because on its Chapel, where you can find the sacred icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy.
Not even the Russians dared to destroy it during their occupation of Lithuania.

Many locals are very devoted to this icon. When I was standing nearby, I saw a lot of people stop by to make the Sign of the Cross.

The cult of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn has prevailed in Lithuanian and Polish communities all around the world.
There are even some churches devoted to Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, and the biggest one is St. Mary's Church in Gdansk, Poland.

Vilnius: the town hall This is Vilnius Town Hall, located in... The Town Hall Square!

It used to be a gothic building, but what we see today dates back to 1799, when it was rebuilt in neoclassical style.
Vilnius Philarmonic

This building is home to the Vilnius Philharmonic. You can visit ther website here.

The Chodkiewicz Mansion in Vilnius

The Chodkiewicz family was one of the most influential noble families.

They bought this mansion in the 16th Century and restored it during the 18th Century. The Chodkiewicz family owned the mansion for over 300 years.

In 1834 the Medical Academy was established here, and in 1919 it became a "students club" with apartments for students and professors.

Since 1994 the Mansion houses the Lithuanian National Art Museum, displaying paintings, furniture and other Lithuanian pieces of Art.

The beautiful fassade of the Radisson SAS Hotel No, I didn't sleep here...
...But I found the building to be beautiful!

I haven't found any information on this building, beside the facts that it was built in 1901 and that today it's home to the Radisson SAS Astorija Hotel.