Top 5 Tourist Sites in Vilnius and Vilnius Trivia

YOUR Home Away From Home

Top 5 Sites in Vilnius:

1. KGB Museum LINK - PHOTOS HERE (Gedimino 40, entrance from Aukų 4) AN ABSOLUTE MUST!
Former inmates give tours (Lithuanian or Russian) in the former KGB building where many were interrogated, tortured, imprisoned, some killed. I cried and fellow Italian tourists also got very emotional.

2. Gedimino Pilis (Castle Hill) LINK
Need I say more. A great view from the top and every time I look up I get such a rush just seeing the Lithuanian flag waving in the breeze.  Original castle was built in the early 1300s.  The current tower was built in 1419.  Renovated in 1930.

3. Saints Peter & Paul's Church LINK - PHOTOS HERE (Antakalnio 1)
The world has nicer Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance churches but I have never seen a better baroque interior anywhere. Almost as good as the interior are the histories and tales behind the OVER 2000 stuccoed figures that line the interior. Try to get someone to explain.

4. Bizarre:
A. The only memorial bust in the world to Frank Zappa LINK (Kalinausko 1) with his portrait in graffiti art in the background. Why? You tell me.  Maybe because of one of Frank Zappa’s most famous quotes:  "You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline, it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer." Lithuania certainly has excellent beer!
B. JUST to say you've been there... the French National Geographic Institute decided that the Center of Europe LINK lies 16 miles (26 kilometers) north of Vilnius. There was once a small plaque to mark the spot in the middle of a grassy hill, but now a more respectable tower has been built.
C. If you're polite, calm and "well dressed" you will be able to see the mummified bodies of the martyred Saints Anthony, Ivan and Eustacius in the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit LINK (Aušros Vartų 10) clothed in black (Lent), white (Christmas) or red (rest of the year). I know where there are countless mummified remains of plague victims in the catacombs of one church but I can't tell you everything now, can I?

5. Walk the 1 mile strip from the Cathedral, down Pilies g., down Didžioji g., down Aušros Vartų g. to Aušros Vartai (Gates of Dawn) and stop EVERYWHERE!

It was tough picking the top 5. There were so many other contenders but...

Vilnius Trivia:

Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and one of the country's oldest cities.

It stretches along the river Neris and is set within hills of pine forests.

Vilnius was founded in 1323 by the Grand Duke Gediminas, who built a castle on the top of one of the hills, which still stands as a symbol of Vilnius.

At the foot of the castle hill lies the Old Town with its Gothic, Renaissance and Classic style buildings, narrow and twisting streets. Vilnius Old Town has been designated a
UNESCO World Heritage Site LINK.

In the center of the Old Town is Vilnius University with beautiful frescos and 12 courtyards. The University was founded in 1579 and is the
oldest university in Eastern Europe.

Vilnius is famous for many
churches, there are 34 of them. The most beautiful are St. Ann's (Šventos Onos) church in Gothic style which fascinated Emperor Napoleon so much when he was in Vilnius that he said he would like to place it in his pocket and take it back with him to Paris, the Baroque St. Peter and Paul (Švento Petro ir Povilo) church has more than 2000 mythological and biblical figures and the Cathedral in its Classical style. At the Gates of the Dawn (Aušros Vartai) is an icon of the Virgin Mary. Legend says that it has a miraculous power.

Vilnius also has a rich Jewish history, though only one synagogue remains. As a contrast, is the KGB Museum, a place where many Lithuanian partisans imprisoned before being deported to Siberia. Your guide at the Museum may be a former inmate.

The place to visit is
Trakai, 30 minutes from Vilnius, the ancient capital of Lithuania. A 14th century castle is on an island in Lake Galvė. The castle has been renovated but you still can feel the spirit of the 14th century. The Trakai castle museum presents an exhibition of prehistoric findings. Trakai is a favorite place of Vilnius inhabitants. In summer, there are classical music festivals. The lakes of Trakai offer a variety of water sports.

Vilnius Tourist Information Centre Didžioji g. 31 (Vilnius Town Hall) - LINK HERE