The southernmost of the three Baltic countries, Lithuania is a charming and quirky country that belongs on every traveler's bucket list. There are endless activities to fulfill adventure enthusiasts, with expansive forests, deep lakes, sandy beaches, and numerous national parks. Travel into the old town of Lithuania's capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vilnius, and admire the medieval architecture while seeking out the perfect cepelinai, the country's national dish of potato dumplings stuffed with meat and curd cheese. Fun fact: Lithuania is the only country in the world with its official scent, known as the Scent of Lithuania!
- Vilnius Old Town
Vilnius Old Town is one of Northern Europe's oldest preserved Old Towns. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town boasts a rare mix of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical architecture. It is home to the Gates of Dawn, which opened in 1522 and is the city's only remaining defensive wall still standing. With the splendid image of the Virgin Mary painted to protect the city, the wall stands as an essential spiritual landmark. Other iconic landmarks in the Old Town are the Cathedral Square, the outstanding Orthodox Cathedral of All Saints, and Vilnius University, one of the oldest schools in Europe.
- Trakai Castle
Built in the 14th century, Trakai Castle is most famous for its Gothic architecture and unique location – in the middle of Lake Salve, one of the deepest lakes in Lithuania. The castle was originally built to serve as a residence for the Grand Dukes of Lithuania; however, the structure fell, was rebuilt in the 1950s, and today stands as part of the Trakai History Museum. Standing tall with a medieval-style appearance, the castle exudes a fairy-tale-like essence and can only be accessed by a wooden drawbridge. Explore the castle grounds, visit the museum, and view the myriad of ancient artifacts.
- Jewish Quarter
Before World War II, Vilnius was known as the "Jerusalem of the North" and was the most important educational and cultural center for the Jewish people in the region. Today, the Jewish Quarter of Vilnius still strongly connects with Jewish Heritage. This historic neighborhood is one of the first places where the Jewish people settled in Vilnius. In the 17th century, this quarter became more famous because of the glass market. Now, when you walk around this part of the city, keep an eye out for signs, monuments, artwork, and memorial plaques that serve as reminders of the Jewish history in the town.
- Užupis District
Užupis, a self-proclaimed "republic" inside the Old Town, is the smallest district in Vilnius. Formerly a troublesome place in the early 1990s, Užupis has grown into a beautiful neighborhood of artists, intellectuals, and entrepreneurs. In 1997, residents of Užupis decided to declare independence, and today, it thrives as a creative and artistic community with its constitution, anthem, and president. Embrace the free-spirit energy and admire the ever-changing open-air sculptures and installations. Journey under the Užupis Bridge, enjoy the Swing of Destiny, and say hello to the Mermaid of Užupis while you’re down there!
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