Vilnius: an underestimated city, but full of wonders to discover during your work placement in Lithuania! Indeed, Lithuania is a country with a rich history, which has largely adapted to tourism since joining the European Union. As an anecdote, I visited one of the best museums there (The Genocide Museum): it’s excellently presented, very hard to do, but really fascinating. If you ever choose Vilnius as your destination for a work placement abroad, it’s one of the must-do activities! Here are the TOP 10 things to do in Vilnius.

Old Town:

Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is one of the oldest and most picturesque cities in Eastern Europe. Its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a veritable architectural treasure trove. As you stroll through its cobbled streets, you’ll be transported to another time, filled with history, culture and beauty.

One of the most striking features of the old town is its Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture. Churches and cathedrals vie with each other in splendor, such as Vilnius Cathedral, the largest Gothic church in the Baltic States, or St. Anne’s Church, a Gothic jewel adorned with red brick. Every street corner reveals new architectural treasures, from colorful buildings to elegant facades.

Vilnius’ Old Town is also packed with fascinating museums. Don’t miss the National Museum of Lithuania, where you can discover the country’s history and culture through a rich collection of artifacts. The Museum of Occupations and Freedom Struggles will immerse you in Lithuania’s recent history, while the MO Museum of Contemporary Art is ideal for lovers of modern and contemporary art. If you like strolling through picturesque alleyways, Vilnius’s old town will delight you. Lively little squares, cafés and local craft stores add a touch of conviviality to the historic atmosphere. You can sample Lithuanian specialities in traditional restaurants or lose yourself in the colorful markets where you can buy local products such as amber or linen.

Last but not least, don’t forget the Three Crosses hill, which offers a panoramic view of the old town. Climb to the top for breathtaking views, especially at sunset when the roofs of the old town are bathed in golden light.

All in all, Vilnius Old Town is a destination that combines history, magnificent architecture and a warm atmosphere. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover or simply looking for a charming getaway, Vilnius is sure to seduce you. So don’t hesitate, and discover for yourself the timeless beauty of this extraordinary city.

The cathedral

Vilnius Cathedral, also known as the Basilica Cathedral of St. Stanislaus and St. Vladislav, is an emblematic monument in the old town of Vilnius, Lithuania. Its history dates back to the 14th century.

Construction of the cathedral began in 1387, following Lithuania’s conversion to Christianity. It has undergone several modifications over the centuries, reflecting different architectural styles such as Gothic, Baroque and Neoclassical. The cathedral has witnessed many important historical events.

It has been the coronation and burial place of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, and has played a significant role in the country’s history. In 1655, during the war against the Swedes, the cathedral was partially destroyed and suffered several fires over the following centuries. However, it was rebuilt each time, preserving its sacred character.

Vilnius Cathedral is also associated with the figure of St. Stanislaus, bishop of Krakow, canonized martyr and patron saint of Poland and Lithuania. His relics were brought to Vilnius in 1671 and are preserved in the cathedral crypt.

Today, the cathedral is not only a place of worship, but also a national symbol. Its imposing façade and remarkable architectural features attract many visitors who wish to discover its history and admire its timeless beauty. Vilnius Cathedral is a living testimony to Lithuania’s rich and complex history, a place where spirituality, art and culture come together. A visit here will immerse you in the history of this country, and let you feel the sacred atmosphere that emanates from its centuries-old walls.

Gediminas Castle and Tower:

The Gediminas Castle and Tower in Vilnius are historic sites that will capture your imagination and give you a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Allow me to inspire you to visit them!

Gediminas Castle is an iconic symbol of Vilnius. Perched on a hill, it offers a majestic presence and an aura of mystery. A visit to the castle gives you the opportunity to step back in time and discover Lithuania’s fascinating history. The remains of the castle bear witness to the different eras of its existence, from medieval fortifications to the buildings of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Once you’ve climbed the hill, you’ll come to the Gediminas Tower. This is one of the few remaining elements of the original castle. Climb to the top of the tower and marvel at the breathtaking panoramic view over Vilnius. You’ll be able to contemplate the colorful roofs of the old town, the majestic churches and the surrounding landscape.

But that’s not all! A visit to Gediminas Castle also includes the Lithuanian History Museum, located inside the tower. This captivating museum traces Lithuania’s eventful history through interactive exhibits and historical artifacts. You can explore Lithuania’s different periods, from prehistoric times to modern events.

In addition to its historical importance, Gediminas Castle is also a place of relaxation and tranquillity. The hill’s verdant surroundings offer a peaceful setting for a relaxing stroll. Take your time to lose yourself in the winding paths, breathe in the fresh air and admire the magnificent scenery all around you.

Jewish Quarter:

Before the Nazis came, about 40,000 Jews lived in Vilnius, but by the end of the war and the German atrocities, only a few hundred remained.

The Nazis built two ghettos: the large and the small one. Gradually, after the country’s independence, the area was also redeveloped. Today, only the Choral Synagogue remains of the original buildings, as all the others were destroyed first by the war and then by the Soviets.

Genocide Museum:

The Genocide Museum in Vilnius is a place that evokes deep emotions and offers a unique perspective on Lithuania’s dark history. Although a difficult subject, a visit to this museum can be a deeply educational and emotional experience. Let me give you a few reasons to visit.

The Genocide Museum is housed in the former headquarters of the KGB, the dreaded Soviet security service. By exploring these premises steeped in history, you’ll have the opportunity to delve into Lithuania’s tumultuous past and understand the repercussions of totalitarian regimes on the country and its people.

The museum features detailed and moving exhibits tracing the period of Soviet and Nazi occupation of Lithuania. You can discover the methods of oppression and repression used by these regimes, as well as the poignant stories of the victims who fought for their freedom.

By visiting detention cells, interrogation rooms and exhibitions on crimes against humanity, you’ll gain a deep understanding of the suffering endured by the Lithuanian people. This experience can be both overwhelming and inspiring, as it highlights the courage and resilience of those who resisted oppression.

The genocide museum also offers an opportunity for reflection and commemoration. By honoring the memory of the victims, you help preserve their legacy and prevent such events from happening again. It’s an opportunity to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for freedom, and to reflect on the importance of human rights and democracy. Finally, the Genocide Museum is a place of awareness and education. By learning about Lithuania’s tragic history, you’ll gain a better understanding of the challenges the country faced and its journey towards freedom and independence.

Visiting the Genocide Museum can be a profound emotional and intellectual experience, offering you a deeper understanding of Lithuanian history and the importance of preserving collective memory. It’s an invitation to reflect, learn and pay tribute.

The Hill of the Three Crosses:

This hill offers a very impressive panorama and represents the religiosity of the Lithuanian people.

The monument is located in Kalnai Park, behind the Gediminas Tower. It is quite a hike to the top.

Bernardinai Garden:

The Bernardinai Garden is located in Vilnius Old Town, close to Vilnius Cathedral. It takes its name from the former Bernardinai monastery that once stood here. This historic garden is a haven of peace in the heart of the city, offering a tranquil and serene atmosphere.

One of the special features of the Jardin Bernardinai is its landscape design. Winding paths and lush green lawns create a relaxing atmosphere, inviting visitors to stroll and unwind. You can stroll along the shady paths, admire the colorful flowerbeds and soak up the natural beauty of the place.

A notable feature of the garden is the charming music pavilion. This picturesque wooden pavilion is the venue for open-air concerts and musical events. Attending a concert in this enchanting setting adds an artistic and cultural dimension to your visit.

The Bernardinai Garden also offers panoramic views of Vilnius Old Town. From certain points in the garden, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the red-tiled roofs, majestic churches and historic buildings that characterize the city’s urban landscape. It’s an opportunity to contemplate the beauty of Vilnius from a whole new angle.

Finally, the Bernardinai Garden is a regular venue for cultural and artistic events. Festivals, exhibitions and other events take place in this enchanting setting, adding a vibrant touch to the garden’s peaceful ambience.

All in all, the Bernardinai Garden is a special place in Vilnius where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city and recharge your batteries in the midst of nature. Its tranquil beauty, picturesque views and cultural ambience make it a place not to be missed on your visit to Vilnius. Take the time to stroll around, relax and enjoy this haven of peace in the heart of the city.

St. Anne’s Church:

The original version of St. Anne’s Church was built in 1394 by King Vytautas for his wife Anne, after whom it is named. What we see today is the result of renovations in 1582 and again in the early 1900s. Its flamboyant gothic architecture with typical red bricks makes it one of the symbols of the city.

The Uzupis district: c

The Užupis district in Vilnius is a unique and enchanting place that’s sure to pique your interest. Let me give you a few convincing reasons to visit this artistic and bohemian district:

Užupis is often nicknamed the “Independent Republic of Užupis” because of its rebellious, creative atmosphere. Indeed, this district has a distinct identity and is known as the bastion of artists, writers and free spirits. Stroll through its narrow streets and you’ll discover art galleries, artists’ studios and lively cafés, where an inspiring bohemian atmosphere reigns.

One of the most emblematic symbols of Užupis is its own flag, anthem and constitution, all created by local residents. This symbolic declaration of independence reflects the free and unconventional spirit of Užupis’ creative community. A visit to the district will transport you into an alternative universe full of poetry and freedom.

Užupis is also famous for its Bridge of Love. This romantic bridge, covered with padlocks symbolizing eternal love, offers a picturesque view of the Vilnia River and creates a romantic and magical atmosphere. It’s an ideal spot for a hand-in-hand stroll with your partner, or to enjoy a moment of quietude on your own.

The Užupis art scene is vibrant and dynamic. You can visit art galleries displaying contemporary works and meet passionate local artists. The district is also known for its art festivals and street performances, where you can discover emerging talent and be surprised by artistic expression in all its forms.

Finally, Užupis is a picturesque district with colorful architecture, historic buildings and charming little squares. Stroll along the river, explore the narrow streets and soak up the bohemian atmosphere. In fact, the area is often compared to Montmartre, the artists’ quarter of Paris!

Botanical gardens:

The botanical gardens of Vilnius University are one of the stops on the trip as they are very beautiful and pleasant to visit.

The plant species are really numerous and divided by precise routes that allow you to visit the whole area. It is a real oasis of peace.

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