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Jurmala

 See You in the city on the wave!
 

 

  

 

 

 

Jurmala – the largest resort city in the Baltic States  is well-known for its natural treasures – the mild climate, sea, healthy air, curative mud and mineral water. The attraction of Jurmala hides in its almost 33 km long white sand beach, the large pine forest and the natural border of the city – the river Lielupe. In Jurmala, You will discover a combination of charming wooden houses built in the beginning of the last century and modern resort buildings.

Jurmala is a good place for international conferences and corporate meetings. People come here to recover or strengthen their health enjoying the healing effect of mud bathing and mineral waters.

The inhabitants of Jurmala offer new possibilities for tourists every year – hotels and guesthouses, various entertainment. Taste delicious and healthy food in Jurmala's restaurants and cafes, walk along the central promenade of Jomas street, explore the eco-trails in Kemeri National park and Ragakâpa Nature Park, enjoy the water attractions in the biggest aquapark in Northern europe"Lîvu Akvaparks" and "Nemo", visit the famous concert hall Dzintari or simply watch the sunset on Jurmala beach! In every season there are plenty of events for everyone – art exibitions, local and international events and concerts.

Jurmala is the city on the wave – on the wave of change and success, on the wave of love and hope. It welcomes everybody to return here again and again!

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Riga


 



Riga, the capital of Latvia, was officially founded in 1201. Riga is divided into six administrative districts: Centra, Kurzeme, Ziemeļu, Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale districts.

Riga is located along the Baltic Sea at the southern coast of the Gulf of Riga, on the Rigava coastal plain. The historical core ofRiga is situated on the right bank of the Daugava River, about 10 kilometers from where the Daugava flows into the Gulf of Riga. The natural terrain of this area is a flat and sandy plain, about 1 to 10 meters above the sea level.

Climate in Riga is influenced by its proximity to the sea; therefore it is moderately warm and humid. Summers are comparatively cool and cloudy (average temperature in July +16.9 C; average precipitation (rainfall) – 85 mm). Winters are comparatively warm with frequent thaws (average temperature in January – 4,7 C, thaw days are about 10 days a month). Snow cover forms in the middle of December and remain through the middle of March. About 40% of the days in a year are cloudy (overcast), average precipitation – 700-720 mm a year.


Riga in Figures

Area


The area of Riga covers 307.17 km2, including:
- Residential areas  67.00 km2 (21.8%)
- Industrial areas 52.45 km2 (17.0%)
- Streets and roads  24.64 km2 (8.0%)
- Parks    57.54 km2 (19.0%)
- Water   48.50 km2 (15.8%)

Inhabitants

There are 747,2 thousand inhabitants residing in Riga. The density of the population is 2434 per 1 km2. 


Riga’s Architecture and Environment


In the architecture of the historic center of Riga examples of all architectural styles characteristic for the Northern Europe, from Gothic to Modernism, are found.

The regular building of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries is characteristic for the planning of the historic center, oriented towards the direction of main streets in the Old City, which emerged approximately in the 14th century. Dismantling ofoutdated defense systems (ramparts, dams, constructions) in 1857 – 1863 was an important impetus for the development of the city construction.

As a result, the picturesque Boulevard Circle was designed and in the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, with the rapid development of high-rise dwelling construction, unique Art Nouveau examples were created. In some districts of Riga, for various reasons, complex wooden constructions of that time have still been preserved, and that is an amazing phenomenon in the 21st century. In 1997 the historic center of Riga due to this valued architecture was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Old Riga


Old Riga is the historical and geographical center of Riga, located on the right bank of the Daugava River. O ld Riga comprises a fairly small interior fortification system area (built during XIII-XVIII centuries), where unique middle-aged architectural monuments are concentrated.


St. Peter’s Cathedral
 

Peter’s Cathedral used to be the main cathedral during the middle ages for the inhabitants of Riga, and it has belonged to the citizens of Riga since the very beginning. The church congregation mainly consisted of privileged large guild merchants and craftsmen of smaller guilds. The first time St. Peter’s cathedral was mentioned in 1209. Its oldest section, currently the central area, which used to be the altar area, built in 1408–1409 – conforms to Gothic style. The cathedral has been rebuilt and enlarged several times. In 1491 the tower was built upon the cathedral, and although it collapsed several times, it was always rebuilt. In 1666 the tower collapsed, in 1677 it was recovered, but in the same year it was destroyed by fire. In 1690 it was rebuilt again. At that time the 64.5 m high steeple was the highest wooden structure in the world. In 1721 lightning hit the tower and it was destroyed again. This time the renewed tower stayed intact by 1746. During World War II on 29 June 1941 artillery projectiles, which hit the cathedral, inflamed it, and as the cathedral burned the tower collapsed. The tower was resurrected in 1973, but the cathedral’s restoration was completed in 1984. Now there is an elevator built in the tower, which takes visitors to tower’s second gallery located on 72 m height to enjoy the city panorama.


Riga Dome

The building of St. Mary’s Cathedral or Riga Dome and Monastery for Riga’s Order of Monks, was started in 1211, as Riga’s Archbishop’s Chapel. By 1270 the main construction was finished. At first the cathedral was in the shape of a cross, the earliest section (the altar) was made of precisely arranged, broached, Roman-style limestone blocks, later the construction was changed into Gothic style. A monastery wasbuilt to the cathedral’s southern wall as a residence for Riga’s Order of Monks. Between the church and monastery a square courtyard was formed with crosswalks. In the beginning the courtyard was used as a graveyard, but later it was used also as a market area. During the period from 1888 till 1891, over the crosswalks were built premises for Riga’s museum and archives (now known as the Museum of History and Navigation of Riga). The cathedral’s first tower was destroyed by fire in 1547, and in 1595 a new tower was constructed. In 1775 when wooden parts of the building staled and became jeopardous, the tower’s steeple was removed and thepresent baroque dome replaced it. In 1884 the German organ producing company “E. F. Walker&Co” constructed the celebrated Dome organ, which at that time was the largest organ in the entire world. In 1856 the old main portal vestibule was rebuilt; in 19th century many annexations were removed around the cathedral. From 1989 until 1990 a wide alcove was formed by the cathedral’s walls made 3 m deep down into archaeological strata of many centuries allowing to detect the Dome Cathedral’s original size and to view the primary foundation of the cathedral.


Riga Castle


Riga castle is the symbol and home of Latvian secular authority. The Castle’s construction began in 1330 as the construction of the residence for Master of Livonian Order. Inner dissents resulted in the degradation of the previous residence, White Stone Castle, belonging to the Master of the Livonian Order, and the inhabitants of Riga were forced to build a new one. When the Master’s residence moved to Cesis in 1484, the citizens of Riga raised the castle again, and after some time it was rebuilt once again. Originally the castle was fortress-like 3 story building with an inner courtyard and four towers. During the renovation of the castle in 1495–1515 two towers were altered, the interior was wrapped with cellule and stellar arches, above the gates were placed sculptural relief of the order’s patroness, St. Mary, and the order’s master, Valter von Pletenberg. The largest rebuilding took place in XVIII and XIX centuries. In 1783 the main structure of the castle was rebuilt, a three story construction, to serve the needs of Riga Province’s authority. In 1818 at the castle’s front the premises for the general province’s representation were erected for governor-general of Vidzeme. In 1938 the castle’s front premises was renovated and furnished to the needs of the president of Latvia. Since 1995 the President of Latvia is using the restored government’s premises. Some parts of the castle house museums and other cultural institutions.


St. George’s Cathedral (White Stone Castle)


It was built from white dolomite around 1207 to become castle for the Master of the Knights of Sword Order, which was destroyed by the citizens of Riga in 1297 while struggling against the Order.

One area of the castle remained unscathed where St. George’s Cathedral was located (later the Convent Yard of the Holy Ghost), which during the Reformation was used as a storage area. Without any significant changes the structure was used as a storage area until the end of XXth century when in 1989 the Museum of Applied Arts was established there. Thus, this is the place where the oldest fragment of the building constructed in Riga can be seen.


St. John’s Cathedral


In 1234 Bishop Nicholas transferred the ownership of the bishop’s castle, which was located in the oldest part of the city, as well as several portions of land to the Dominican Monastery. Dominicans established there a monastery and a church, which was named after John the Baptist. This structure is located with an arching walkway girding the convent’s courtyard in the southern corner. To this day there have been preserved two través (space between two pillars). The first information about the church in this area is in 1297.

In the beginning of the XIVth century the entrance side of the church was extended by chopping a portal in white stone. During the cathedral renovation period, in the 15th and 16th century, the interior was covered with fine, webbed vaults, but on the exterior on the main obverse, almost contrary to the solid, compact, mass, out of which a thin, mounting pediment raises. St. John’s Cathedral is the last cultic building where it is possible to trace the influence of late Gothic architecture.


House of Blackheads


This important centre for public life, which was first mentioned by sources in 1334 as the New House of the Large Guild, is located near the Town Hall Square (Rātslaukums). The building was erected by the city itself, and originally it was rented to the merchants of the Large Guild and the unmarried merchants, the Brotherhood of Blackheads, who later, in 1713, purchased the building and became its proprietors.
The House of Blackheads was reconstructed and expanded for a number of times, however both pediments have been preserved many elements from the first and the 15th century’s periods. The entire second floor was built as a celebration hall. The biggest changes to the architecture of the house were made at the end of 18th century, when a new two-storey wing was added to the building. In 1816 one more wing was added to it. The addition was made to the wall on the side of the Daugava River. The open stairs, which lead directly into the hall on the second floor, were covered with oblong canopy. The last significant changes to the façade’s pediments were made in 1886, when all the gothic pediments had new additional profiles of concrete casting worked in. The celebration hall was also upgraded and adornedduring renovations and expansions. The adornment of 6.68 m high hall was exceedingly extravagant.
The long-standing and posh cultural monument was destroyed during World War II in 1941. Due to an explosion the slate covered roof was torn off revealing the wooden constructions beneath, which were destroyed by the fires of burning houses nearby.
During the Soviet occupation in 1948 the burned out walls were blown up. After the Republic of Latvia regained its independence, the restoration of the House of Blackheads started, which was completed in 2000.


Convent Yard of the Holy Ghost


The Convent Yard is located in Old Riga between Kalēju and Skārņu Streets, covering an area of 260 m2. Originally there was the Castle of Knights of Sword Order, which was destroyed in 1297. The castle was rebuilt on the embankment of the Daugava in the former site of the Holy Ghost Hospital. After some time this place was renamed as the Convent Yard of the Holy Ghost.
The Convent is the foundation of 1220 by Bishop Albert for supporting the disabled and feeble persons of all nationalities and layers. In the 15th century this was Kampenhauzen’s House for the poor or “Non-German Asylum” in which widows from the poorest and lowest social class lived. The Convent Yard included also “Asylum of the Grey Sisters”, a hospital and nursery home for the ill. The hospital was built in 1488 and rebuilt in 1860. The name “Asylum of the Grey Sisters” originated from gray cloaks the nuns there were wearing. In the end of the 17th century a road was made in the Convent Yard between Kalēju and Skārņu streets.


House of Dannenstern


House of Dannenstern is one of the most impressive examples of the baroque style architecture. It consists of three mutually connected blocks – the main block at the street and two others bending at the courtyard, all connected by a driving passage. The main block is a two-storey building with an attic, a basement, and five attic floors built into the roof.
The author of baroque style portals is sculptor Dietrich Valter. The house was built in 1696 and used to be the largest private house in Riga. The owner of the house was the merchant from Holland, Ernest Metsu, who owned more than 150 ships and who was granted the title: “von Dannenstern” by the King of Sweden.


Complex of residential buildings “Three Brothers”


The building on Mazā Pils Street 17 is the oldest existing residential building in Riga. It was built at the end of the 15th century, when Riga had established good trade relations with merchants from the Netherlands, and architecture from there started to influence the architecture of Riga. The two adjacent buildings are more recent. Altogether they are called “Three brothers” and represent the medieval dwelling homes during different development stages when houses were built on small pieces of land. In front of the oldest house there is still a small space for a porch with stone benches and stone entryway. The other two houses do not have such additions due to lack of space.


Boulevard Circle

In the middle of the 19th century fortification systems of Riga became morally obsolete and prevented the city development. In 1856 the Russian authorities annulled the fortress status for the inside Riga and dismantling of cumbersome buildings was started. In the result of dismantling ramparts in 1857–1863 vacant area appeared. Architects J. Felsko and O. Dīce developed the design for its improvement
Approximately 300 - 300 m wide area with decorative greenery, lawns and parks and with the city channel in the center was established there. Later the area was extended by adding Vērmanes Garden, formed in 1817, and by establishing boulevards lined with planted lindens. Buildings of public importance were also constructed in this area, in the result of which the so-called Boulevard Circle was created, which at present has become a real oasis in the 21st century metropolis.


National Opera


The first public building, which was built in the park area, was the 1st city theatre (German theatre) (presently the opera and ballet theatre). It was designed (1822-1885) by professor L.Bonstedt from Petersburg Art Academy and was built from 1860 to 1863 under the supervision of architects F. Hess and H. Šēls. The semi-round hall with 1240 seats and 150 standing places, with the three balconies, has good acoustics and appropriate proportions.

Among the many Eclectic buildings constructed at that time, the compact, balanced theatre building with its six columned ionic portico is as if a delayed echo from the Classicism period of the beginning of the 19th century.


The University of Latvia


The Riga Polytechnic (later the Polytechnic Institute and now the University of Latvia) building played an important role in the city landscape of Riga. The buildings with its calm, monumental look and with certain Roman and Byzantine architecture style elements was designed by the first Dean of Architecture professor Gustav Hilbig (1822-1883). The first part of the building was built during 1866-1869.


National Theatre


The building was constructed as the second theatre (Russian) for the city (nowadays - the National Theatre), architect A. Reinberg (1860-1908). The theatre was made in the spirit of “Classicism of Riga burghers”. The theatre building had a well-arranged stage, high quality engineering and technical communications, well-illuminated, stately front staircase and lobby. The figures of Atlantis near the entrance were created by the famous sculptor A. Voltz.


Academy of Arts


The Esplanade - a former military training area beyond the city ramparts - was partly built over at the beginning of XXth century. The building of Stock-exchange Commercial School was erected (now the Academy of Arts), architect V. Bockslaff. The Commercial School was designed in pseudo-gothic style following the so-called “brick-gothic” forms, and with its free functionally grounded, asymmetrical planning perfectly fits into the city landscape.


National Art Museum


The building (architect V. Neimanis) was constructed simultaneously with the Stock-exchange Commercial School; it as if finishes the Boulevard Circle’s representative building area. The museum was built as an imposing structure in Baroque style, with majestic lobby and stately front staircase, as well as with convenient exhibition halls having skylight on the second floor, and the ceiling in some places has been made of reinforced concrete constructions.


Monument of Freedom


A symbol of freedom for the Latvian people, built largely on public donations and was officially unveiled on 18 November 1935 - the day when in 1918 the independent Republic of Latvia was founded. The monument is made of light gray and rubicund Finnish granite and Italian travertine, while the statue of Freedom was cast on bronze in Sweden.
During the Soviet occupation gatherings of people and laying flowers at the monument were forbidden.
With the national awakening, despite of possible repressions, there were meetings taking place at the monument, people gathered together to commemorate the most significant events for the Latvian nation - proclamation of the Republic of Latvia, struggles for freedom, occupations and repressions. Members of “Helsinki-86”, the human rights protection group, were the first who did it openly on 14 June 1987. After Latvia regained its independence, the guard of honor was resumed at the monument.


Art Nouveau


This style, which at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century referred both to architecture and other fields of art, dominated in Riga for a short time, however, it left behind extraordinary colorful architectural examples. This coincided with the period when construction of high-rise residential buildings boomed in Riga and organically found a place in the architecture of Riga. Art Nouveau emerged in response to previous styles, especially to Eclectics, which required following particular historical styles. In contrast, Art Nouveau stresses a complete creative freedom, an expressive flight of fantasy with a tendency to show all utilitarian construction elements as artistic value. Characteristic features of Art Nouveau - sinuous lines, geometrical ornaments – divided into two main directions in Riga: decorative and romantic nationalistic Art Nouveau. Latvian architects, representatives of romantic nationalism, were E.Laube, K.Pēkšēns, A.Vanags, who created unique examples of national architecture. Most characteristic examples of decorative Art Nouveau are buildings in Alberta Street constructed by M.Eizenšteins.


Buildings in Alberta Street


Alberta Street is considered as the epitome of Art Nouveau in Riga. Each house is a different and unique construction achievement from the beginning of 20th century. Nowhere else in Riga will youobserve so expressive and concentrated flights of architectural fantasy. Buildings No. 2, 2a, 4, 6, 8, 11, 12 and 13 in Alberta Street are recognized as National Architectural Monuments. Excellent buildings are on Elizabetes Street 33 and on Strēlnieku Street 4A, which in addition has been perfectly renovated.


Other Objects of City Environment

Dismantling of the fortifications in the middle of the 19th century, rapid development of the city and growth of the population determined changes also in building construction. Apart from representative buildings and prestigious tenement houses, construction of public buildings, tenement houses for middle class and working districts developed. The development of the city environment at the beginning of the 20th century was marked by rationalism, particularly obviously that was expressed in the architecture of cultural and educational institutions.
Special attention in Riga has always been devoted to trade and the buildings linked with it. The first marketplace in Riga was the area near Skārņu Street, because at end of marketplaces of feudal cities usually there was the church standing, built and maintained by the residents of the city.


Berga Bazar


Berga Bazar is the complex of buildings between Elizabetes, Dzirnavu and Marijas streets, built by the design of K. Pēkšēns for the Latvian manufacturer and public figure K. Bergs. The complex includes 3 – 4 storey tenement houses; on the ground floors of the buildings there are shops with facades made in the Neo-renaissance style. The main component of the Berga Bazar is the group of buildings constructed inside the square with passageway on the ground floor.

Originally Berga Bazar included a total of 131 shops, various workshops, a printing house and restaurant. In the last quarter of 20th century the premises of shops in the passage have been partly renovated.


Central Market


The Central Market in Riga is a grandiose complex, which includes five pavilions with the total area of 16000 m2.

It was one of the most significant constructions in the 20-ies. The market pavilion is founded on the constructions of hangars for zeppelins, which after World War I came into the ownership of the city. The planning and functional disposition of the market complex, which is included in the city landscape, is successful. Four pavilions are located in a row, and the fifth is perpendicular to them. The last was planned for wholesale trade. The idea about leading a railway branch-line to the pavilions has not been realized, unfortunately, completely. Under the pavilions there were spacious cellars built with tunnel exits leading to the city canal. Thereby, delivery of goods was organized on the underground level and would not disturb the trade and traffic. In the architecture of the market a rationalistic manner of decoration, as well as influence of the neoclassicism are felt. The design, of course, largely determined the form of the construction, but only the most significant parts, considering the economic character of the building, could be thoroughly emphasized by interpreting the Art-Deco forms.


Architecture of Wooden Buildings

Architecture of wooden buildings plays a significant role in the urban environment. In Riga, unlike many other countries of Europe, the wooden architecture continued developing almost until World War II. In turn, after the war Latvia did not encounter the wave of Modernism, which passed over the Western Europe in the 60s and 70s, largely because of the deficiency in housing caused by the Soviet system of management. As time progressed, the wooden architecture of Riga accumulated certain load of social and cultural environment – up till now more prosperous people have tried to avoid of wooden buildings. However, lately, there has been a rise of fans of wooden architecture in Riga, who are trying to restore the ancient and most beautiful buildings.

Many of the Latvian architects also started their practices at this time; their works together with accomplishments by architects of other nationalities in Riga have defined the visual image of the city. Frequently amazing staircase and apartment interiors have been preserved in the wooden buildings. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, all wooden buildings are in a very poor technical condition. Nevertheless, the wooden construction of Riga is a unique phenomenon on the European scale. Preservation of wooden buildings as a unified ensemble, without tearing particular constructions out of environmental context, is a topical issue.

 

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Visaginas



Visaginas is the youngest town in Lithuania, situated by the pine forests on the shore of a beautiful Visaginas lake. Visaginas town was planned by the “8 minute principle”, i.e. the very heart of the town - the square by the catholic church can be reached from any place in the town in 8 – 10 minutes. 

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Siauliai

 



The year 1236 is the date when the name Siauliai was mentioned in historical chronicles for the first time. Siauliai is situated at the junction of two roads used by hunters, warriors and merchants in times much older than the city itself. These roads now connect Tallinn and Warsaw, and run west to the seaport of Klaipeda and east to Russia through Latvia.

Due to its perfect geographical location,Siauliai became the trade and industrial center of Northern Lithuania from the very start. The fastest economic and cultural development began in the 19th century, when Siauliai was given as a present to the Russian Count Zubov. Footwear and nail factories and higher schools were built. Since then Siauliai has remained a hub of economic activity, producing items as varied as TV sets, bicycles, leather goods and footwear, knitwear, machine tools, metal items, furniture and food-stuff.

However, good geographic location has not always brought luck and success for Siauliai: the town was twice burned to the ground, and during World War II 85% of the town was ruined. Despite this, its strategical importance ensured that the town was always rebuilt. It also meant that the biggest military airport in Eastern Europe was established there in the Soviet period.

Siauliai, with its current population of 147,000, is the fourth biggest city in Lithuania and the economic, cultural and educational center of Northern Lithuania. 

Since 1970's when the center of Siauliai was reconstructed, we have a pedestrian boulevard decorated with unique sculptures, with shops, cafés and bars along it. Siauliai is also famous for its artists and musicians, Drama Theatre and a number of various museums.

The one and only Hill of Crosses in the world, the Kurtuvenai and Venta Regional Parks and many other places of interest and recreation, organized commercial hunting expeditions and trips on horseback attract tourists to the Siauliai Region as well as the city itself.

           

 

Places of interest

 

Sculptures 

Sculpture "Three Birds"
There is a composition of sculptures entitled Three Birds on the lawn in front of Siauliai Hotel. As you walk around the sculptures, one can see them from a different angle. The plastic lines change and create an impression of movement. The birds turn and flap their wings. They are about to spread their powerful wings.

 


Fountain Rude

Its small brown-colored dome symbolizes the rivulet that used to flow here. As the time passed, the rivulet was covered and flowed under the ground along the street that bears its name. The fountain was equipped at the intersection of Vilnius St. and Rudes St. in 1986, when the city was getting ready for its 750th jubilee. It took quite a lot of effort to tame the rapid rivulet, but now we can see a fountain decorated with strange old-style carvings. 


Sculpture "Pelicans"

A fountain and a sculpture under the same name, Pelicans, were erected in 1978 and reconstructed in 2003. Most passers-by might wonder how such exotic birds as pelicans came to Siauliai. The story is simple: once upon a time, a pair of pelicans failed to keep pace with the flock. They took a wrong direction and headed north instead of south. When flying over Siauliai, they landed to quench their thirst with water from a pool. An evil sorceress turned them into stones. 


Sculpture "Motherhood"

The idea of the decorative sculpture Motherhood took quite a few years to mature. The sculpture stands in Vilnius St., in front of Kastonu Alley. A mother with a baby in her lap is an intimate scene, hidden from the eyes of strangers. Motherhood embodies the everyday and eternal relation between the mother and her child. 


Sculpture "Three Trolls"

When white candles of blossoms light on the chestnut trees standing along the alley named after them, the three trolls come to life and shine with pride. The bearded shorties look serious, but their seriousness radiates kindness, and they remind one of the kindly trolls from Scandinavian myths. 


Sculpture "Dawn"

A new sculpture entitled Dawn by D.Matulaite was erected quite recently. The idea that was born two decades ago and received quite opposing opinion became a reality in 2003. The sculpture symbolizes the Ausra (Dawn) Movement a political and literary group of Lithuanian intellectuals of the 1880s - 1890s. They used to publish a magazine called Ausra (1883-1886), and the organization was named after it.


Sculpture "A reading man"

The sculpture entitled A Reading Man erected in 1983. The man of the old times, who is standing on a cobbled pavement, is not just an ordinary person he can read. Elderly residents of Siauliai may find his silhouette slightly familiar. A Reading Man has come from the old press of Siauliai: the same hand raised his eyeglasses, the same irony. Now it minds of the old times when Siauliai was a major center of press, that it has a few printing shops. 


Churces

Sts. Apostales Peter and Paul's Cathedral

The building was erected in the Renaissance style, with quite a few features typical of mediaeval architecture. In 1997, the church was granted the status of a cathedral.
There are a number of stories telling why the Cathedral was built at this place, and not somewhere else. A legend has it that upon a time a huge ox wandered to Siauliai, lay down to rest, and passed away in its sleep. As the time passed, the wind covered the dead ox with dust and sand, and thus a small hill occurred. It is that hill Sts. & Apostles Peter and Paul's Cathedral stands on today.


St. George's church

The church is situated in the central part of the city, next to the railway station. The church was built in 1909 with money allotted by the authorities of Tsarist Russia. At first, it served as the church of the Russian Army; when the Russian retreated, the Germans turned it into a warehouse. Following the retreat of the German troops, Rev. Martynas Jonaitis, the chaplain of the 3rd Infantry Regiment of the Lithuanian Army, saw to it that the church be renovated and handed over to the regiment for its spiritual needs in June 1919. On 6 June 1999, the church was consecrated and given the title of St. George the Martyr. 


 St. Ignatus' church

In Vilniaus St., next to the pedestrian boulevard, there is St. Ignatius' Church. As far back as 1930, Jesuits bought a house, in which Father B. Andruska equipped premises for Jesuits' residence and a chapel.
In 1949 St. Ignatius' Church was closed, and Father Danyla and Father Andruska were arrested. The church was turned into a warehouse, then into a sports hall, and finally it housed the Small Theater of Siauliai. At the end of 1990 the building was handed back to the Jesuits.


 Sts. Peter and Paul's Church of the Othodox parish

The Orthodox church is situated in the central part of the city, next to the Orthodox sector of the old city cemetery.



Museums 

Radio and Television museum

In 1982, the public Radio and Television Museum was established. In 1994, it was given to Siauliai Ausros Museum. Today, the museum safeguards more than 3,700 exhibits, forming various collections: restored mechanical sound devices, radio receivers, measuring instruments, television apparatuses, television sets, adding machines, radio parts and more. The museum also holds personal inventories of the radio pioneers of Lithuania.
The Museum's exposition displays the items from its basic collection, including old but still operating gramophones, music boxes, phonographs, wireless radio receivers, television apparatuses, and television sets.


Photography museum

The Photography Department of the Siauliai Ausros Museum founded in 1976. 
Nowadays, around 15 photo-exhibitions are being arranged in the halls of Photography Museum every year, that acquaint the visitors with the works of the most prominent photographers of different periods and show the most progressive tendencies in photo-art; presentations and discussions of the exhibitions are being constantly organized. During the educational activities, held often in the permanent exposition and in the exhibitions halls, the visitors get deeper perception on the photography's nature, they are taught to see and to take photo-creation in.


Bicycle museum

In 1980, the public Bicycle Museum created at Siauliai Bicycle and Motor Factory "Vairas". In 1985, this museum transferred to its present location, Vilniaus street 139. That same year, the museum opened its exposition to the public. In 1993, the Bicycle Museum became a part of Siauliai Ausros Museum. There are 259 exhibits in the museum's exposition, of these 73 are bicycles and 4 are three- and four-wheeled carts.
This museum is very popular. Children especially enjoy visiting it. They are not just able to view all the exhibits here, but also have a unique opportunity to ride on the three- and four-wheeled carts.


Ch. Frenkelis villa

The Villa was built in 1908 by the large scale manufacturer Chaimas Frenkelis, who at the end of the 19th century established in Siauliai one of the largest and most modern in the tsarist Russia factory for leather tanning and processing. Chaimas Frenkelis Villa - the cultural monument in the Art Noveau style - is the only one of its kind in Siauliai and one of a few in Lithuania.


Venclauskiai house

The house of Stanislava and Kazimieras Venclauskiai was built between 1925 and 1927. 
In 1995, the S. and K. Venclauskiai exposition was opened at the house, illustrating the domestic and public lives of the noted lawyer and talented actress and stage manager. In 1993, in memory of the more than 100 foundlings and impoverished children who were raised in the family, a statue was unveiled on the terrace of the museum called "Motherhood". Now the building houses the administration of the Museum, History Department and Exhibitions and Visitors' Service Department, a library, and the halls for exhibitions.


Poet Jovaras house

The exposition "The World and Fates of Literature Creators" opened in 1986, signified the beginning of Siauliai literary museum in Poet Jovaras House. Unique exhibits reflect the lives and creation of such Lithuanian writers as P. Visinskis, Zemaite, G. Petkevicaite-Bite, Satrijos Ragana, M. Grigonis, J. Miliauskas-Miglovara, J. Janonis, K. Korsakas, F. Kirsa, and others. Exhibitions, traditional poetry springs and other events take place in the Poet Jovaras House.


Museum of Cats

The museum was founded on the 17th of May 1990 by Vanda Kavaliauskiene, which was collecting exhibits for the museum many years. The first exhibit - little black wooden cat came from Poland in 1962.
There are over 10 000 exhibits in the museums. Visitors are greeted by cats in staineds, on stair handrail, on the lamps, etc...


 

 

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Panevezys



Settled on the bank of the Nevėžis River, Panevėžys city (pop. 116.3 thousand) was founded by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Alexander when by the letter, dated 7 September 1503, he donated these lands to the church, which had to fight against pagan religion that was prospering at the time. 

Panevėžys is located halfway between two Baltic capitals, Vilnius (130 km) and Riga (150 km). The Via Baltica International Highway runs through the city on its way going to feed into the trans-European thoroughfare system. Railroads lead to Klaipėda in the West and to the many cities in the East.

Panevėžys lies on the banks of the river Nevėžis, the sixth longest river in Lithuania. The river gave its name to the city itself. Senvagė (the Old River Bed) is considered the symbol of Panevėžys and is a famous place for leisure time and festivals.


Places of interest

One can find attractive and mysterious places in every city. A guest in Panevėžys will really find some places to admire. Individuality and comfort of the city will be felt. Many details of the city have connections with the past. The past and the present verge in the center of Panevėžys.

Interesting fact to mention is that the inhabitants of Panevėžys were the oldest pagans in 
 Europe. In 1414 when all Lithuania had already been baptized altar was burning and the priests were making sacrifices to the old Lithuanian Gods in the present place of the Old River Bed.

Nowadays granite monument 
of Alexander, the Great Duke of Lithuania and the King of Poland overlooks in the settings of panorama of the Old River. On its palm, it gently swings St. Peter and Paul’s Church – the descendant of the oldest Christian shrine of the city.

One more trace is imprinted in the Old River Bed. Between the period of the I and the II World Wars Panevėžys was famous for the mills. 

The most favorite place for rest and various festivals is the Old River Bed - it is like a visiting card of the city, which could prove the fact that for many years Panevėžys has been a cozy and green city. Various sculptures make the Old River Bed livelier.

The building of J. Miltinis Drama Theatre is just several steps ahead from the Old River Bed. Juozas Miltinis, the legendary stage director and his students - the actors has provided Panevėžys with the special aura and brought honor that is felt even nowadays

The seeds of the theatre, which were put in Panevėžys several decades ago, have brought the plants of different arts. A unique Puppet Wagon Theatre visiting the remotest Lithuanian towns and villages in summer is established in the city. The Director Antanas Markuckis has been awarded a prestigious prize of a well-known Danish fairy teller H. Ch. Andersen. This prize is also known as the little Nobel prize. The visitor of the city will be curious to see the unique theatre where fantastic puppets live, the café is functioning in a small wagon of narrow gauge railway and the collection of handprints of noble guests is exhibited.

Nearby there is theatre Menas. In front of it the figure of the great world dreamer and humanist Don Kichot created by the sculptor Henrikas Orakauskas is presented. The sculpture of Don Kichot was made of copper, brass, bronze in accordance to archaic engravings. The butterflies of colored glass symbolize fragility of human being.

J.Masiulis bookshop located in the building of interesting architecture has centuries-old history connected with the name of Lithuanian book smugglers.

Close to it, the Photography Gallery is situated. It is the center of photo artists famous in Lithuania
 and abroad. Photo artists create interesting projects, publish the photo albums, and prepare photo albums.

At hand, there is the Art Gallery, which has accumulated treasures of ceramic works. Some of the works are presented in the exhibition. Panevėžys is often called the Mecca
 of ceramic artists. 129 artists from 30 countries have created in 15 symposia.

The Ethnography 
Museum is famous for the collection of world insects. It is one of the biggest in Lithuania.

If one is tired of arts, it is worthwhile to sit in one of the coziest cafes in Laisves square, the heart of the city. Fountains, passers-by can be watched. You can sit and listen to music in the so-called singing square for 24 hours. If you are lucky, you can listen to live music as Brass Orchestra Garsas rather frequently organizes various projects in the open air.

The best way of getting to know Panevėžys is to visit it. You are most welcome to a green, compact, cozy Lithuanian city.


                      


 

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Palanga



Palanga (pop. 20.0 thousand) is the biggest and most universal seaside resort of Lithuania. It is located 29 kilometers far from Klaipėda. The Lithuanian seacoast is famous for its beaches of beautiful white sand and dunes, which can be found nowhere else on the Baltic Sea coast. 
The sandy coast extends for over 10 km and isbacked by a pine forest and dunes.

Originally a fishermen’s village, Palanga was first mentioned in the written sources in the 12th century. The inhabitants were engaged not only in fishery, they also gathered amber which would reach the distant countries of Europe and Asia via the merchants’ routes. 

In the 19th century, Palanga started developing into a health resort, which was a great merit of the dynasty of the Count Tiškevičius (Tyszkiewicz), who moved to the town at that time. A park was laid out, a new palace was built, a port was equipped, a natural therapy centre was launched, a new church was constructed, and the sea pier was built then. During the press prohibition period, the route of book spreaders was crossing Palanga. The first national play in Lithuania, “Amerika pirtyje” (America in the Bath) by A. Keturakis, was staged in this resort in 1899.

The resort boasts a large variety of pubs, cafes, restaurants, discotheques, bars, night clubs, and casinos. Those who enjoy active holiday are offered pedal boats, bicycles, horse-riding, tennis courts, pools, a complex of baths, etc. A number of trails are intended for cycling or hiking. The Palanga Regional Park, stretching somewhat southward in the direction of Klaipėda, attracts visitors by impressive scenes of wild and severe nature.

   

 

The resort is home to a very interesting museum of Antanas Mončys, the Lithuanian artist who created in Paris. Its small exposition shows expressive works of big artistic power. TheSavickas Gallery often hosts memorable exhibitions of modern artists. One can see the views of old Palanga in the Local Lore Museum of the town. 

Palanga is the resort submerged in the shadows of trees, which is fascinating at any season of the year. During a colder period, it is an ideal place to hold conferences and seminars.


Resort

In summer time, Palanga becomes a capital of entertainment and cultural events. Then, it turns into a symbolical capital gathering people of different professions and age, including artists and the academic community. The town provides space for a summerresidence of Lithuanian government and president. Among holidaymakers are also tourists coming from Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, and Russia. People flock here to both have a rest, bathe in the Sun, sea and dunes, and entertain themselves.

Such holidaymakers can expect a universal-type resort, meeting all-type fancies. In early June, it organizes yearly an opening of summer season, numerous concerts, festivals, entertainment and cultural events. In mid-July it holds a traditional aviation festival. Since the year 1971, the park of Tiskevicius Palace has been a venue of "Night Serenada" concerts. In winter, it witnesses a mass bathing of "seals", perhaps the biggest one in the world, in the Baltic Sea. Moreover, all year round, Palanga hosts conferences and congresses.


Palanga's botanical gardens

This landscaped garden is one of the prettiest, best-preserved, and best-kept parks in Lithuania's coastal region. In 1987 Count Felix Tiskevicius founded this park around the palace built the same year. The park was designed by the famous French landscape architect and botanist Eduard Fransua Andre‚ (1840-1911), who spent three summers in Palanga with his son Rene Eduard Andre (1867-1942) supervising the park's construction. They were assisted by the Belgian gardener Buyssen de Coulon.

Andre's talent and the natural and historical uniqueness of the park's setting successfully blended to create a piece of art.

The scenic park offers a variety of views and moods. The palace is set between a pond and the legendary hill of Birute - an ancient Lithuanian sacred place - that offers a glorious view of the sea. The natural foundation of the park, both in earlier times and now, are relicts of ancient pine forests. Little paths and squares with beautiful flower arrangements are laid out skillfully among the trees.

The contrast of scenery is emphasized by the palace's regular shape: the north side opens onto a magnificent terrace and steps leading into the park. Flowers and a fountain complete the effect. The south side of the palace is surrounded by an oval rose garden that is connected to the palace's terraces by stairs.

Experts guess that the park's founders planted about 500 different kinds of trees and bushes. Trees were brought to Palanga from Berlin, Karaliaucius and other European botanical gardens. Today - as before - pine trees dominate the park. Firs and dark alders grow in the more humid areas. About 250 imported and 370 native plant species are represented. 

The park has survived two world wars and a number of natural disasters. It has also been extended and restored. However, with the exception of a few details, the park has kept the atmosphere created by Andre, as Florence Andre Kappelin, the head of the E. Andre association, confirmed during her visit to Palanga in 1996.

Today the park covers an area of approximately 100 ha. Trees cover 60 ha, fields - 24.5 ha, flowers - 0.5 ha, flowing water - 1.16 ha. Beach and sand dunes stretch for 1.5 km. Paved and unpaved paths cover 18 km. There are 8 different buildings, 7 sculptures and a number of other architectural structures. The park has plumbing and a decorative lighting system.

 


Amber museum

The Amber Museum is housed in the neo-renaissance palace built by Count Felix Tiskevicius in 1897. The palace was designed by the German architect Franz Schwechten and was restored in 1957 according to plans by the architect Alfredas Brusokas. The Amber Museum was opened August 3, 1963 as a branch of the Lithuanian Museum of Fine Arts. Currently the museum includes 15 rooms with expositions that cover about 750 sq.m. The collection includes about 28 000 items. The palace is connected to a chapel that houses moving exhibitions.


The chapel on Birute's hill

Built in 1869 by the architect K. Majeris, the construction of this chapel was promoted by the Palanga parish priest K. Steponavicius. The current chapel replaced a cross and a wooden chapel in the honor of St. Jurgis. In even earlier pagan times our ancestors used the hill as an observatory. Since 1976 stained-glass windows, designed by the artist Liudas Pocius, decorate the chapel. The Lurdas lies at the foot of the hill.


The Lurdas

After the construction of the park was finished, Count Tiskevicius' wife Antanina decided to build the Lurdas. All the stones used are unprocessed and are held together by cement. A statue of the Virgin Mary used to stand in a niche of the Lurdas. During the revival of the Lithuanian nation, Vilius Orvydas donated a stone sculpture of the Virgin Mary that stands in the Lurdas to this day.


"Birute"

This sculpture was created by the artist Konstancija Petrikaite-Tiuliene and erected in 1965. It stands on a stone at the foot of Birute's hill - the symbolic eternal resting place of Princess Birute. The sculpture bears the inscription "For you, Birute."




"Rebeka"

"Rebeka" ("Woman Carrying Water"), by the French sculptor Hubert Louis-Noel, originally stood in the Vilkenas palace park (Silute region). The sculpture found its new home around 1983 and was restored by the Pranas Gudynas restoration and conservation center. A copy still stands in the Vilkenas park where the original used to be.


The small terrace

This terrace was originally Count Tiskevicius' garden: the south side was enclosed by glass and the north by a wall. The garden also used to be fenced ittimes. Two old pedestals of sculptures remain as well as remnants of. The terrace's appearance has changed many an old fountainfound, it is difficult to recreate the terrace in its original. Since no photographs of the original garden have been form.


"Egle, queen of the serpents"

This is one of the most popular sights of the park and one of the prettiest and best-known sculptures in Lithuania. Egle stands near the main entrance and was created by the sculptor Robertas Antinis (the older) and the architect Alfredas Palauskas.



"Jesus giving a blessing"

This sculpture by Stasys Zirgulis stands across from the Tiskevicius palace, on the botanical garden's large terrace . It is a reproduction of an earlier statue that was probably brought to the park from Paris at the turn of the century. The original was destroyed after World War II by the Soviet rulers. The new statue was designed according to old photographs and was blessed by the bishop of Telsiai, Antanas Vaicius, on June 14, 1993.


Memorial in eternal remembrance of the Jewish people killed in world war II

This memorial is located in the newer, southeast half of the park, near a path that follows the dunes in the direction of Klaipeda. You will find the following inscription in Hebrew and Lithuanian on a large stone of pink granite: "Here in the dunes of the southern part of this forest Nazi executioners and their local helpers brutally murdered 105 Jews in 1941. May this be a holy memorial to the innocent victims." This memorial was erected around 1989 at the sight of mass executions.


  
   


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Neringa

 


The Curonian Spit (Kuršių Nerija) is a unique monument, light multisided strip of a land, uniqueness of which is comprised of relief created by the sea and wind, the highest spit in the whole Northern Europe, Lagoon marl prints, remains of former Lagoon‘s forest and soil brought by the wind and constant interesting eolic processes.

A considerable contribution for formation of theexistent uniqueness was made by human, who after unmerciful extermination of the spit‘s forests personally started the works of forests‘ regeneration. The process of regeneration was long and hard; therefore, current natural and introduced vegetation, rare plants that are typical for this region only, their communities, and their growth locations request special care. 

In the year 2000, the Curonian Spit was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as one of the most beautiful and unique landscapes of Europe.

The Curonian Spit is a narrow sand peninsula of 98 km of length, which divides the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. In the South, Lithuanian part of the Spit borders with Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation. The borderline marks the external borders of the European Union.


The administrative centre of the Curonian Spit, the town of Neringa (pop. 2.8 thousand), is Nida settlement; another bigger settlement is Juodkrantė; Pervalka and Preila remind us of colourful fishermen's villages. The beaches of Nida and Juodkrantė have met the requirements of the Blue Banner for several years already. Nida is the warmest part of Lithuania that enjoys the biggest number of sunny days in a year. 

Locations 

Nida 

This is the biggest settlement and an administrative center of Neringa. Currently, Nida has approximately 1,550 of permanent residents living there. Nida was mentioned for the first time in the documents of Teutonic Orden in 1385 by the name of "Noyken" and "Noyden". According to historical sources, the old Nida village was situated on the northern coast of Grobstas Cape‘s gulf. The second Nida was located 2 km south of the present Nida. In 1730 migrating fishermen founded the third Nida beside Parnidis Gulf. Three former villages - Nida, Skruzdyne and Purvyne – currently comprise the Nida settlement. Nida is located 48 km away from Klaipeda and 4 km away from the border of Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation. Previously, mainly fishermen lived here; from the end of XIX century Nida started to be famous as a resort. Currently, this is a great place for rest. The settlement is spread on the seacost for about two kilometers from the south to the north. With its south end it reaches the Parnidis Gulf, and with its northern end it gradually disappears in the sands of the Cape of Bulvikis.

  


Preila

This is the third biggest settlement of Neringa town, which is located in the gulf between Preila and the Goat Cape. During 1836 - 1843 Preila was founded by the residents of sandbound Nagliai and Karvaiciai villages. The settlement stands in 39 km distance from Klaipeda, and in 10 km distance from Nida. It has approximately 200 local people permanently residing there. About 1.5 km north of Preila, so-called Karvaiciai Dune is looming. Under the sand of this dune, the settlement of Karvaiciai village is buried.


Pervalka

The smallest settlement of Neringa surrounded by the dune ridge in the west. Approximately 40 people reside permanently here. It is considered that the name of thisfishermen‘s village originated from the process of boats‘ carry. This settlement, same as Preila, was founded by the residents of sandbound Nagliai and Karvaiciai villages. There is Skirpstas Hill’s dune of 53 m height in southern part of Pervalka. Pervalka is located 34 km from Klaipeda and 15 km distance from Nida.


Juodkrantė

The second biggest settlement of Neringa located on the coast of the Curonian Lagoon between high parabolic dunes. When navigating in the Lagoon, this location looks quite dark; therefore, it is considered that the name of Juodkrante originated from two words: „black coast“. Prior to the World War II, Juodkrante was famous as a resort of European level. Currently, Juodkrante offers an excellent rest and comfort as well.


Alksnynė

Several families are living in Alksnyne‘s steading. Formerly, a gulf of the Curonian Spit was in this place. While canalizing the watercourse for ships to navigate, this gulf was filled up with the gound excavated.  In the end of XIX mentury, while planting the dunes, a dune supervisor‘s farmstead was constructed, which was given the name of Alksnynas. This settlement has Alksnyne‘s control post located, where local toll for entrance of the territory of the National Park of the Curonian Spit is, which is administered by the Municipality of Neringa, is collected.


Smiltynė

This is a territory of the protected National Park of the Curonian Spit, which is being administrated by the Municipality of Klaipėda City. One of the oldest settlement of the Curonian Spit. In 1837 the inns were relocated to the top of the dune. A privilege of ferry to the city also belonged to the inn‘s owner. From 1870, Smiltyne Dune was started to be planted. In 1900, by the efforts of "Smiltyne association",  construction of a curehouse was completed. In 1936, Lithuanian Yachtsmen Union has founded the first yachting school in Smiltyne. From this point to the south direction the line of dune ridge, which was planted in the end of XIX century, starts and extends up to Juodkrantė.


Nature And Dunes

It is a sin to be in the Curonian Spit and not to visit its “travelling” sand and the "dead" dunes, not to see the great colony of the black herons and cormorants settled nearby Juodkrantė, or not to enjoy the wooden sculptures on the Hill of Witches in Juodkrantė. Without seeing all that, one can hardly realise how rich and marvellous the peninsular is. Washed by the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea, sometimes it creates an impression of a desert.

   


Nature Monuments

Valley Of Silence

In the beginning of the valley, there is a chapel column constructed in 1991, which was dedicated for restoration of Lithuanian independence. Parnidis exploratory track begins here. 


The Dune of Parnidis 

The Dune of Parnidis is a favorite place of the holidaymakers’ visits. The dune is half planted and half drifted. On the southwest slope of the Dune of Parnidis a memorial cross for the sculptor R.Daugintis is standing, and on the top of the dune inspring of 1995, while celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Restoration of Independence, the Solar Clock – calendar was constructed. From the Dune of Parnidis you can enjoy the variety of the spit’s landscape. In the direction to the south, a range of XVIII century human-provoked “migrating dunes” greets by blinding one with light and shadows, in the direction of the north there is a 19th century human-planted green carpet of hill-pines of the Great Duneridge.


The Valley Of Death

This valley is situated between the Dune of Parnidis and the Dune of Gliders. During 1870 – 1872, there was a camp of the French war captives established. Due to poor imprisonment conditions, exhaustion, and diseases a lot of the captives had died. They were buried at the camp cemetery set right here; that is why the valley has such a name.


The Hill Of Urbas

Nida is surrounded by two high dunes overgrown by pines. One of those dunes is the Hill of Urbas. The name of the hill takes its roots in the word „urbas“ (pit, hole), since the top of this dune was rich in pits. An old Nida lighhouse shines on the Hill of Urbas. Currently, the hill has a viewing point equipped on it. This is an excellent place for traditional events. Summer nights movie sessions are organized on the Hill of Urbas. A traditional Jonines (the Feast of St.John) walking is going down from here.


The Hill Of Witches (Formerly Of Jonas And Ieva)

From the ancient times, Joninės (the Feast of St.John) were celebrated on the Hill of Witches, formerly called the Hill of Jonas and Ieva. Nowadays, waking down the hill’s path, you can see a unique exposition in the open air. 71 sculptures from oak were gouged out by Lithuanian folklore artists – wood carvers who converged to Juodkrantė during the summers of 1979 – 1981. The theme of the old hill sculptures is the world where witches, demons, and the characters of Lithuanian fairy tails and Neringa legends exist. In the summer of 1988 the sculptors complemented the ensamble with 12 more sculptures, mostly of playful character: swings, small hills, chairs. During the period of 1999 - 2002 at the time of "Hill of Witches" symposium new sculptutures originated in the exposition, and the old ones were restored.


Settlement Of Herons And Cormorants Beside Juodkrante

Having just departing Juodkrante towards Nida, but not mounting up to the steep Hill of Ram yet, another hill is aspiring among the old woods – the Hill of Herons, which received its name from the settlement of grey herons and grand cormorants that settled nearby. This is one of the biggest settlement of these birds in the whole Europe. According to the data of 2000, the settlement amounted to 582 couples of grey herons and 1,361 couples of grand cormorants.
It is unlikely to answer the question, when the herons settled in the neighbourhood of Juodkrante. In the middle of XIX mentury, they were a common element of everyday life. It can be said with a confidence that these leggy birds had lived in XVII century or even much earlier.
Cormorants had appeared in Juodkrante in 1803. They settled beside the herons and started to occupy their nests. Gradually, the herons were driven out to the edges. They began to migrate to the south of Juodkrante. In 10 years, two separate settlements of herons and cormorants emerged on the southern and northern border of Juodkrante.


The Cape Of Bulvikis

This is the widest point of the Curonian Spit peninsula, which amounts to 3.8 km. It is considered that the name of the Cape and the gulf beside it originated from the Curonian surname Bulvikis. 


The Hill Of Vecekrug

The green “carpet” of hill-pines spaned over the hills by a human reveals the Karvaciai reservation landscape of the Old Inn Hill, which is between Preila and Nida, with all its beauty. People say that an inn was standing in its base. This dune is situated 1.5 km towards the south of Preila, facing the Cape of Preila. This is the highest planted dune of the Curonian Spit, which opens up  the prospect of the Curonian Spit broadening beside the Cape of Bulvikis, forest of the slopes, coast dunes’ sand plains roughness, and outlines of the Lagoon’s coasts. The dune itself is no less impressive, which stringed the green “robe” with diagonals of white sand stripes. The Hill looks especially proudly, when looking at it from the northern side. The height of the Hill of Vecekrug is about 67.2 m. The easiest way to reach it is by driving the bicycle track.


Architecture

Nida's Evangelical Lutheran Church

Nida’s church was sanctified on October 10, 1888. Having the old building of the church rotted away, the contemporary Lutheran priest Gustav Echternach worked on construction of this church. Beautiful Gothic style red-bricked building of Nida’s Evangelical Lutheran Church survived despite of all devastations of the Postwar period. 


Catholic Church In Nida
 

This settlement of the Curonian Spit had never had a Catholic church before. The believers of Nida, having a brotherly permission of the Lutherans, had been praying in the church given back to them and strenuously sought for construction of new church. Leaders of Franciskan Order appealed to the municipalities’ council concerning construction of spiritual and cultural center. The search of a place for the church held off for a long time. Finally, on May 4, 2000 Telsiai bishop A. Vaicius sanctified the Catholic church and foundations of the community’s house. Official ceremony of the church opening took place on June 14, 2003.
The church with a cany roof designed by Nidiskiai architects Ricardas Kristapavicius and Algimantas Zavisa became a pronounced accent of new architecture. White pinnacle of the church with the cross is visible from all sides of Nida.


Fishermen's Farmsteads

The main buildings of the fishermen’s farmsteads are a dwelling house and a stable. Area of a farmstead was not strictly limited. The buildings were usually turned with one corner to the Lagoon. Exterior of fishermen’s houses is also distinctive. The houses are timbered and constructed from lying square balks. The walls are upholstered by vertical boards from the outside, the boards’ threads are covered with vertical strips. The houses are painted in brown or bluish color. Previous form of roofs is broken hip-roofs with chimney-breasts covered with canes. Chimney-breasts are vents functioning as a chimney, which are on upper triangles of a hip-roof from two sides of a house. Old fishermen’s homsteads had no chimneys; however, supposedly, this was beneficial, since the nets and other fishing implements, which were kept in lofts, got firmed, when surrounded by smoke, which accessed the loft while heating the stove.


Ornamentation of ancient houses

 A special attention is attracted by ornamentation of ancient houses. Decorative elements most often were centered on houses’ attics. The main decorative elements of fishermen’s farmsteads were transits of roof ends, also called “geivelis” by the fishermen, and decorated windboards. Motives of the transits are immensely various, non-repeating, and vividlydemonstrating ingenuity of folklore masters and their artistic style.
Windboards, as a constructive element of a house, supports the borders of the roof ends and decorates them, when they are turned with an end to the street. Geometric and plant silhouettes were used for the windboards. Sharp buds of various forms were liked very much.
In pre-Christian faith the transits had a protective meaning. Nowadays, houses were decorated for satisfaction of aesthetic and social needs: To have a more pretty life and not to get behind the neighbours “on the other side of the fence”. Besides that, nice farmsteads helped attracting more visitors. The farmsteads decorated with blue and white colors attract the atention of bypassers from a distance.


Villas

Due to unique landscape and comfort conditions of recreation created in the 19th century and its popularity, the Curonian Spit was associated with the French Riviera. The resort began to be formed during 1860 - 1865. In Juodkrante, a block of villas formed between the pier and cemetery. Two big hotels and a lot of private villas and guesthouses were here.

 

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Klaipeda



Klaipėda - the third largest city of Lithuania - is situated in the Western part of the country. It city covers 98,35 square kilometers.

It is an ice-free port with favourable geographical position (55o 43' North latitude, 21o 07' East longitude) on the coast of the Baltic Sea and Curonian Lagoon, within close distance to other Baltic sea ports: Kaliningrad (Russia) and Riga (Latvia).

The town was founded in 1252, when the Livonian Order, after occupying the coastal lands of the Balts, built a wooden castle at the mouth of the Dane river and called it Memelburg.

By the end of the II world war, the town was heavily damaged; the greater part of the Old Town was destroyed and few inhabitants remained. During the years of Soviet power (1945-90), the churches and also the many other valuable buildings, were reconstructed. Klaipeda was turned into an industrial town; it expanded and far overstepped itsancient borders. The remaining and restored Old Town preserved its old-time spirit and charm. At present, Klaipeda with its population of 205,000, ranks third among the towns of Lithuania and is one of the most important towns of the Republic with an ice-free port, stretching for 15 km along the coast of the Curonian lagoon. It is an important sea transport centre with an international ferry port. 


The town has a university, music and drama theatres, museums, libraries, concert halls, culture centres, an Art Exhibition Palace, and galleries, as well as a park of sculptures, the carillon and many other historical and cultural monuments. The Old Town, with its beautiful Teatro Square, is very distinctive and inviting.

   

By its old architecture the seaport is closer to the northern countries. Some of the buildings that have survived in the cosy Old Town have a pronounced Fachwerk style. Modern elements can also be traced.


Klaipėda cherishes nice marine traditions - it hosts the Sea Festival on the last weekend of July every year since 1934. This event includes a number of performances of artistic companies and craftsmen’s fairs. The festival attracts many participants and guests not only from Lithuania but from abroad, too. 



The Kopgalis Fort complex, built in the 19th century, houses the Maritime Museum with an attractive exposition of marine nature and the history of navigation. These unique structures also accommodate a rich Aquarium and a Dolphinarium hosting shows of trained dolphins and Californian sea lions, which attract many spectators. Another interesting activity of the museum is dolphin therapy for children with disability.


The Lithuania Minor and Castle Museums house exhibits related to the history of the region; Pranas Domšaitis Gallery stores valuable collections of paintings; the Museums of Clocks and Blacksmith also boast interesting collections. A number of original artworks of the best national sculptors are displayed in Klaipėda Park of Contemporary Sculpture. One can listen to the carillon music concerts given in the tower of the Old Post-office at midday on weekends. 



Žuvėdra dance sport ensemble, the most famous artistic company of Klaipėda, is a repeated European and world champion.


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Druskininkai



Druskininkai is the largest resort in Lithuania, located in the south of the country, 120 km from Vilnius and Kaunas. The resort is famous for its old sanatorium treatment traditions, wonderful nature and rapidly developing tourism services infrastructure. The resort has long been famous for its mineral waters and curative mud, which currently are combined with modern technologies and have a great value for health services. Druskininkai is the international resort for active recreation and treatment, which is aimed at the wide spectrum entertainment industry with its highly developed modern service infrastructure. The resort infrastructure is developed in these directions – sanatorium treatment, tourism, recreation, entertainment and commercial sporting activities. The wide range of available services is suitable for people of all ages.

Visit Druskininkai and you will be convinced of the exceptional nature of this resort and its calm aura. You will sense a harmony of body and soul or maybe you will spend your time very lively in active entertainment.

Health improvement in Druskininkai is a source of energy and good mood. Enjoy your life, care of yourself and remember – you are always welcome in Druskininkai!!!


Traditional treatment

Advantages for personal health in Druskininkai are mineral water, curing mud, and mild climatic conditions. These make this Southern Lithuania resort attractive to visitors and serve as a good background for sanative activity.

Drinking mineral water has positive effect on the mucous membrane of stomach and duodenum, reduces stomach acidity, stimulates bile formation, regulates gastro-intestinal motorics, exchange of electrolytes and hormones. When drinking or inhaling drinking mineral water, it causes variations in hormones, strengthens immune system.
Patients can drink mineral water of different mineralization and composition straight from the springs.

Druskininkai is rich in fields of therapeutic peat mud. It is the product of long decomposition of vegetative organisms with almost no exposure to oxygen taking place in low marshlands. Due to its physical, chemical and microbiological properties it is suitable for treatment with baths, applications and compresses.

Climate is the third remedial factor of Druskininkai health resort. The town is surrounded by coniferous woods and waters. There are no industrial companies, heavy transport or any other kind of pollution round the town.

The key feature of pure air is negative (light) ions predominant in the air. The average temperature in summer is 18,2 °C, relative humidity is 45-59 %, while the average temperature in winter is 5 °C and relative humidity 85-90 %. Annual rainfall is about 600 mm, on a sunny day annually it amounts up to 200, southwest winds 2,9 m/s are dominating. It is the perfect background for treatment procedures, recreation and tourism.

In a tradition of two hundred years, the recreational health resort of Druskininkai proved its potential to stop illnesses exacerbation and progress, to reduce the dangers of disability, and of resort to increase the general quality of life. 

In 2003 Druskininkai resort was admitted to the International Climate Therapy and Hydro Therapy Association that unites about 60 members of various resorts in different countries worldwide.

   


Health improvement treatment

Physical and biological, and sometimes psychological conditions of the patient are actively affected in the resort. Promotion of an active and responsible for his own health person is one of the ways to propagate the health improvement effects of the resort here. Physical activity of people in various social and age groups is encouraged in order to satisfy their biological need for mobility.

The renewed infrastructure of the resort and warm attitudes of the personnel of health treatment centers attract more and more people from Lithuania and abroad successfully. Not only traditional treatment of illnesses is offered, but also the popular programmes for health strengthening, orientated on younger persons recreation and relax.

People from cities here are recovering in a few days time and are able to forget their everyday worries, stresses. They leave but come again because, they say, the pace of time in this beautiful place in Dzukija stops for them.

Besides, medicine specialists designed and supervised special programmes of different scope and intensity helping patients to loose weight, to relieve from the stresses, and to nurture their bodies.

   


Local places of interest

Druskininkai is situated in picturesque surroundings, encircled with interesting places to visit. Many places can be reached by riding on bicycle paths from the town center through the pine forests: the ethnographic Švendubrė village with a monument to nature – the Devil’s Stone, and the legendary Raigardas Valley loved by M.K.Čiurlionis, the Museum of Soviet Sculptures “Grūto parkas”, or just to see the Ratnyčia river as it meanders along its banks, and bath in its cascades. By bicycle you can reach the interesting surroundings of Latežeris and, along the way, visit the country house of the folk artist A.Česnulis (Naujasodės village). New bicycle and pedestrian paths are planned to Viečiūnai and Liškiava.

An excursion by boat will take you to Liškiava to visit a mound with the remains of the 15th  century castle tower, late baroque church and the Dominican monastery. We invite you to visit the Dz
ukija National Park, where you can see Dzukija’s natural beauty and the local architecture, business and customs of the local inhabitants and sample the traditional food.

In the picturesque city centre, new tennis courts have been opened for those who enjoy physical recreation. 


The Raigardas landscape reserve

The Raigardas valley is a picturesque landscape valley located 9 km from Druskininkai on the road to Gardinas. There are many legends and folk stories about Raigardas. Supposedly, very long ago there was a great city, which was later swallowed up by the earth. From time immemorial it is considered that the slopes of the Raigardas trough together with the pine trees growing on the high and dry slope sink to the springy abyss. The valley has been growing every year. The name Raigardas came from old times, then a city in Lithuanian was called "gardas" and swamps – "raja". From these two ancient words the name Raigardas was coined. The Raigardas valley has been declared a landscape reserve. There are wide meadows with dunes and washes in the bed of the valley. The Raigardas Valley is protected as a rare landscape form. It was formed relatively recently (5000 years ago) and is still forming now. At the foot of the slope there are watery springs, which is the reason why the slope is still on the move.


Švendubrė

Švendubrė is one of villages located in the Druskininkai forests near the Raigardas valley, 5 km from Druskininkai. It is an old street village, which has been declared an architectural monument of local importance. Especially interesting are the old dzukish homesteads with distinctive fenced yards. Around the village in an area of 20 sq km there are meadow seams with streams. Where the Nemunykštis river falls into the Nemunas river, there is a steep hill called the Black Mountain. In olden times it could have served as a defensive point. From the top of the hill there is a beautiful panorama: the blue waters of the Nemunas river, the Raigardas valley, covered with green carpet of grass. In the distance you can see the Užubalis hill, overgrown with pine trees and bushes. Supposedly, in ancient times a small wooden castle could have stood here, surrounded by swamps and bushes. To the north of the village there is a geological monument – the Švendubrė Stone, mentioned in many legends and folk stories.


Liškiava

Liškiava is mentioned in historical sources since 1044. Liškiava is located on the astonishingly beautiful left bank of the Nemunas river, 8 km from Druskininkai. People have lived in the Liškiava area since the second millennium BC. Liškiava has 4 archeological monuments: the Alka mound, the Church hill, a stone with a bull’s heel and the so called "the stone of witches".

Liškiava is famous for its architectural monuments: the 14-15th century castle, the remains of its tower, the 17th century sacral ensemble (church, former Dominican monastery and outbuildings), the 18th century churchyard fence, the steps to the churchyard, the 19th century campanile, the memorial column with the sculpture of St.Agatha. Many works of art remain in the church from the 17th to 20th centuries. In the 6th century BC – 9th century AD there was a wooden castle on the mound. The wooden castle was built at the end of 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century and later abandoned after the battle of Grunwald (1410).


The Dzūkija National Park

The Dzūkija National Park is the largest national park in Lithuania, which occupies an area of 55,900 ha. The biologic diversity of the region, distinctiveness of flora and fauna made this territory an exception. Here you can find 147 kinds of flora and fauna written into the Red Book. There are many ethnographic and historical monuments and works of folk art in Naujasodė, Merkinė and Zervynos.


Merkinė

Merkinė is one of the oldest Lithuanian towns, located in the junction of Nemunas and Neris, Merkinė was mentioned in 1377 inthe Teutonic Order chronicles. It was the old capital of Dzūkija, encircled by beautiful landscape. It witnessed the Lithuanian battles with the Teutonic Order, old rulers of Lithuania and Poland and a stay of the Russian czar Peter I. An old tradition of black ceramics still lives in the neighborhoods of Merkinė. Many attractive ecological and ethnological tourist routes start here.


Museum "Grūto parkas"

In the shadows of pine and fir trees, soviet monuments whch were dismantled in 1989 are exhibited. This is a heritage of several decades of the Lithuanian monumental art. These idols were forced on the Lithuanian people in tragic soviet era and reveal the historic truth about the soviet occupation of Lithuania. The exposition aims to show to the people of Lithuania, visiting guests as well as to the future generations, the naked soviet ideology, which oppressed and violated the spirit of our nation for several decades. 


The Town Museum of Druskininkai

The representational villa "Linksma" build in the beginning of 20th century, where the Town Museum is located, is a beautiful architectural monument located on the shores of the Druskonis lake, in the centre of the town. Since 2001, the museum has a permanent exposition, hosts events, shows, chamber music concerts and lectures. During the holiday season, the museum terrace hosts the traditional concerts "Serenades of Druskininkai" and other town events.


The Memorial Museum of M.K.Čiurlionis

The museum was established in 1963, in the house of the parents of the artist and composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911), where he lived and worked from 1896 to 1910. In two family houses the authentic life has been recreated. In the other two buildings there are expositions of the art, biography and family history of the artist. The museum has a reading hall, which collects works on M.K.Čiurlionis, hosts concerts, events, evenings and shows films. The various expositions are organized in one of the halls of the museum.


V.K.Jonynas’ Gallery

The gallery was founded in 1993 m. The gallery exhibits the works of the Lithuanian artist Vytautas Kazimieras Jonynas (1907 – 1997), who worked for a long time in Germany and the USA, his drawings, graphics, paintings and stained-glass projects. Photographs and films show the most valuable interiors of churches and works of monumental architecture created by the artist. 

The gallery hosts art exhibitions from the National Museum of M.K.Čiurlionis and private collections. For schoolchildren and kindergarteners art lessons are organised in the gallery which has 15 easels. Also projects with V.K.Jonynas art school are organised. 


Forest Museum "Girios Aidas"

The museum was established in 1971. It has expositions of animals and birds. Witches and other legendary characters are hiding in the hollows of oaks, birds are singing and the forest sighs.

The following exhibitions are organized:
- wood art works, 
- jewelry works from amber, 
- black ceramics works, 
- works of folk artists, 
- expositions of photographic masters, 
- ethno cultural collections. 


At the end of 2006, an Aqua Park - the biggest and most modern in the Baltics - was be launched in Druskininkai. It offers a large variety of entertainments for both adults and children as well as a wide choice of relaxation procedures.
 



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Alytus



Alytus is the sixth biggest town in Lithuania. The town adorned by picturesque, forest covered hills is surrounded by 16 km long bend of the River Nemunas.
 The origination of the city (pop. 69.9 thousand), also called the capital city of the Dzukija ethnographic region, dates back to the 14th century when Alytus was just a fortress standing on a hill on the confluence of the Nemunas and the Alytupis. In 1581,Alytus was granted the rights of a town.

In late 19th century, during the period of Czarist occupation Alytuswas turned into a fortress; a motor road and a railway were built in it then. The so-called artillery barracks built in a forest close to Garrison Church and Kareiviniu Park with Saratov barracks have survived from that period.

The obelisk built at the location of a mass burial ground of war prisoners and civilians who died and were killed in Alytus forest reminds us of the horrors of World War II. Roughly 60,000 Jews were killed and buried in the Vidzgiris forest during Nazi occupation; the highest hill of the memorial features a monument to pain–a broken David Star. One should visit the nurtured Old Garden of the City, the freedom monument (The Angel of Freedom), the memorial to the partisans of the Dainava district who died for Lithuanian independence. In 1944, Normandy-Nemunas, the legendary French aviation squadron that fought against Nazism, was settled in Alytus.

Alytus County is home to the Dzukija National, and the Meteliai and the Nemunas Loops Regional Parks attracting visitors by beautiful nature and landscape as well the Zuvintas Reserve inhabited by a large variety of birds. Ancient crafts have survived in many ethnographic villages of the Dzukija National Park. One can enjoy lively sceneries of the environs opening up from the hill-forts of Merkine, Liskiava and Punia.

The residents of Dzukija are inseparable from merry communication and melodious songs. Their raudos (laments), like Lithuanian sutartines (ancient Lithuanian polyphonic folk songs), are a unique form of singing. On 15 August every year, the Pivasiunai Church of the 17th century, which contains a miraculous painting of “Our Lady”, invites people to the Assumption feast (Zolines).


Alytus - town within a park

Alytus mound is the only preserved witness of the foundation of the town, monument of history and culture. It is said that a wooden castle was standing here in the 14th century that was burnt down later by the Teutonic Order. An impressive panorama of the town opens from the mound, while its foot is decorated by an exposition of sculptures “Ancestors of Alytus Mound”.

Not far away from the central Town Hall Square, an ornament of the old town – city garden shows green. Formation of a park of geometrical plan was started in 1930, in a natural pine forest. The park has a fountain with a small pool, a beautiful rose garden attracts eyes of the visitors. The town garden merges with a Resort park situated in the natural pine forest, they are separated only by an Angel of Freedom – a monument dedicated for people who sacrificed their lives for independence of Lithuania. The first Alytus high school (present School of Fine Crafts) is adjacent to the park. Eyes and soul may rejoice in Dailides Lake formed in the old riverbed of the River Nemunas and fountains playing in it in summer time, a beach with wooden foot-bridges, boat pier are installed by the lake.

A Youth Park distinguished by its peculiar composition of metal – plastic sculptures stretches by the springy rivulets. Children’s playgrounds, sports grounds are installed here, marked bicycle tracks offer safe riding even for children. Vidzgiris botanical preserve is famous not only for its extraordinary diversity of plants but historical sites as well. Those who are interested in nature, history and like wandering can enjoy a walk on an ecological path (1 – 3.5 km) leading to Radziunu mound – archaeological monument dating back to the 13th century.
Among the oldest buildings of the town that survived to nowadays, three Catholic churches should be mentioned: St Louis Church – the oldest church
in Alytus that was rebuilt in 1818, St Guardian Angels’ Church built in 1830, and St Casimir’s Church (former and present house of worship of the Lithuanian Army).



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Kaunas



Kaunas
 with approximately 400 thousand inhabitants is one of the most significant cities of Lithuania. It is the second largest city of the country. Current area of Kaunas is 156 square kilometres. It was founded in the 12th century and owes its existence to its favourable geographic position. Kaunas is situated in the centre of Lithuania, at the confluence of the two biggest rivers the Nemunas and the Neris, 100 km from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius and 250 km from the port city Klaipeda. 

For years Kaunas has been a major center of nation's spiritual resistance and struggle for national identity. For twenty years (
from 1920 to 1940) the city was a provisional capital of Lithuania. The spirit of activity and movement prevails in Kaunas today.

Hundreds of years of cultural heritage is preserved in the historical and architectural monuments, museums, theatres, art galleries and churches of Kaunas

Kaunas Old Town

Kaunas enjoys a rem
arkable Old Town which is a concentration of valuable ancient architectural monuments: the remnants of the 13th century Kaunas Castle, the Cathedral, the Jesuit and ST. Trinity Churches as well as the Old Town Hall, nicknamed the "White Swan" for its charming architecture. 

   

The Old Town Hall Square, the most important architectural accent of the Old Town, is reminiscent of the Middle Ages with the early Gothic Vytautas Church and the late Gothic Perkunas House (The House of Thunder) not far away. The Old Town squares and buildings of the surrounding streets are brisk with numerous restaurants, bars and cafes as well as art galleries and Lithuanian folk art souvenir shops, popular among tourists.



Laisves Aleja in the center of the town - the "crown jewel" of Kaunas - is the main focus of attraction for both inhabitants and tourists. Laisves Aleja is also the main business area of Kaunas with offices, shops, restaurants, and banks. It is 1621 m long and declared a non-smoking zone.





Pažaislis Monastery, the pearl of the Lithuanian mature Baroque of the European scale settled by Kauno Marios (Kaunas Lagoon), hosts international Pažaislis music (classical) festivals every summer. The city offers a number of opportunities for cultural and leisure activities:several drama, pantomime and dance theatres, a puppet-show, and the Musical Theatre, which is the initiator of the perfect annual Operetta festival in Kaunas Castle. The International Kaunas Jazz Festival represents an annual emotional fiesta of music. The unique features of this festival include carillon jazz, the Jewish theme in jazz performed in a synagogue, and others.


There are many museums in Kaunas. M.K.Čiurlionis Art Museum offers a chance to see the works of M.K.Čiurlionis, the genius of the Lithuanian art who is ranked alongside M.Shagal, V.Kandinski and K.Malevičius. M.Žilinskas Art Gallery displays a large variety of Western works of art of the latest centuries. Visitors to the Museum of Devils (with over 3,000 items), the only museum of its kind in the world, will experience a number of merry impressions. Vytautas the Great War Museum acquaints its visitors with the history of Lithuania. Nearby is a nice symbolic Statue of Liberty and the eternal fire commemorating those who died for Lithuanian independence.


Quite different is the 9th Fort Museum, which was an integral part of the Kaunas fortress during the occupation of the Tsarist Russia, served as a branch of the Lithuanian prison during in-between-war period it, and was a death camp during Nazi occupation.


Kaunas is also a city of students and athletes, with 5 higher education schools and the famous Arvydas Sabonis’ basketball team Žalgiris.

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Vilnius



Vilnius is the capital of the Republic of Lithuania. Naturally, it is the largest city in the country. Current area of Vilnius is 392 square kilometres. Buildings cover 20.2% of the city and the remaining area is prevailed with the greenery (43.9%) and waters (2.1%). 

The Old Town, historical centre ofVilnius, is one of the largest in Eastern Europe (360 ha). The most valuable historic and cultural heritage is concentrated here. The buildings in the old town - there are about 1.5 thousand of them - were built in a number of different centuries, therefore, it is a mixture of all European architectural styles. Although Vilnius is often called a baroque city, here you will find some buildings of gothic, renaissance and other styles. The main sights of the city are the Gediminas Castle and the Cathedral Square, symbols of the capital. Their combination is also a gateway to the historic centre of the capital. Because of its uniqueness, the Old Town of Vilnius was inscribed on the UNESCO Worls Heritage List.

Whoever you are – a businessman who has arrived in Vilnius to sign an agreement, a tourist on vacation or an experienced traveller looking for new adventures – several days stay in Vilnius will be sufficient to make you fall in love with this city. It is worth staying in Vilnius longer.  However, even if you came only for a weekend, the city will leave a lasting impression on you. Theatre or opera goers, lovers of all-night parties or street carnivals, people who are interested in architecture or those who just like to relax and commune with nature will find something close to their heart in this city.

Geography

Vilnius
 city is situated in South-eastern Lithuania (54°41" north latitude and 25°17" east longitude) at the confluence of the River Vilnele and the River Neris. The distance from Vilnius to the Baltic Sea and Klaipeda, main Lithuania seaport, is about 312 km. The distance is rather large but other cities such as Kaunas, Siauliai, and Panevezys can be reached quickly and easily. They are 102, 214 and 135 km off the capital respectively.

Climate

The weather in Lithuania is changeable and bringing major temperature fluctuations. What are our winters like? Not without reason the French say that Santa Clause is from … Lithuania! – cold winters really happen to come here. However, we also have some extremely hot summers when the thermometer column shows above thirty degrees throughout the whole day. It is a real joy for owners of bars, cafés and night clubs as well as for people preferring entertainment: night life in Vilnius is in full swing on such days!..

Do you know that.. 

In 2009, Lithuania will celebrate a millennium anniversary of the first mention of Lithuania’s name. Many events are being organised for that occasion, the city will be decorated, and it is planned to complete the restoration of the Grand Ducal Castle in the square of the capital. The Upper (on Gediminas Hill) Castle belonged to the complex of the Grand Ducal Castle and today can be reached by funicular railway.


Almost all styles of architecture can be found in Vilnius, from Gothic to Classical. However, Vilnius is the largest Baroque city, north of the Alps, and is often referred to as “Little Rome”.


Due to its unique historical and architectural features, the Old Town of Vilnius was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. Like all other medieval cities, Vilnius developed around the Town Hall. The main street, called Pilies Street, connected the Grand Ducal Castle and the Town Hall. Other winding streets of the city led to the mansions of the nobility and landlords, churches, small shops and craftsmen shops. Narrow winding streets and small cosy courtyards formed a radial plan of medieval Vilnius. The remains of the impressive medieval construction – a city wall of Vilnius (next to the Bastion, the Gates of Dawn) – can be still seen in several places.


The Cathedral, famous as a masterpiece of Classical architecture, dates back to the times of King Mindaugas. The style of architecture of the building changed with time – from a pagan temple to the main church of Lithuania. In 1985 a treasure was discovered in the wall of the Cathedral, which consisted of ecclesiastic cups, a monstrance, relics and other liturgical items. The treasure of Vilnius Cathedral is the most valuable collection of religious art, part of which can be seen at the exhibition “Christianity in Lithuanian Art”.


In terms of architecture, Vilnius is a city of churches. There are about 40 churches of different architectural styles in the Old Town. The so-called ‘corner of blazing Gothic’ – the Churches of St Bernardino and St Anne - attract the most visitors. As many as 33 different shapes of bricks have been used in the construction of the Church of St Anne. It is the subject of a much-quoted remark, said to have been made by Napoleon, the famous French military leader, when his army occupied Vilnius in 1812, that he would like to be able to place it in the palm of his hand and take it back with him to Paris.


Multicultural, multinational Vilnius was referred to as the Jerusalem of Lithuania (Yerushalaiyme de Lita). People of different nationalities and creeds peacefully co-exited here, unfortunately, with the passing of time, only one Synagogue has survived out of Vilnius’ 105 synagogues.





In the 16th century Vilnius became an important educational and cultural centre. Vilnius  University established by the Jesuits is one of the oldest universities in Eastern Europe. The Old Town campus is arranged around thirteen courtyards, where you can, not only see impressive architectural elements, but also visit the Church of St John the Baptist and the Observatory.


Užupis, a district of Vilnius that enjoys huge popularity among the artists, has been declared an independent republic with its separate authorities and the constitution. Original festivals of the republic of Užupis are held annually there.



The geographical centre of Europe is located not far from Vilnius. According to the French National Geographical Institute, the geographical centre of Europe lies 26 kilometres north of Vilnius, going along the Moletai highway.




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