Vilnius travel guide
Lithuania’s capital is known best for its stunning Baroque architecture and gorgeous scenery. The art galleries are another highlight of the city not to be missed. Wherever you go in the city, you’re surrounded by beauty, but these particular destinations are unmissable.
Located on the bank of the Vilnia river, the Bernardinai gardens stretch for nine hectares. There’s a children’s playground, events are often held there, and it’s situated between the Bernadine Monastery and Gediminas Tower, both worth a visit while you’re there. It’s the perfect place to visit for a relaxed afternoon in the summer.
On top of a hill (originally known as the Bleak Hill) three crosses have stood since the 17th century. Seven friars were said to have been beheaded in the same location, and the crosses stand where they were killed. The original crosses were made of wood, but were replaced with more substantial materials later on because the wooden crosses kept rotting. They can be seen from most places in Vilnius, but it’s worth the walk up the hill to experience the views too.
Contemporary Art Centre
Šiuolaikinio Meno Centras is one of the best art galleries Vilnius has to offer. It has up to six large exhibitions running at once, which showcase artists from all over the world. The building also has a cinema and a reading room, so there’s something for everyone.
The Big Ghetto housed thousands of Jews between 1941 and 1943 under Nazi occupation. However, most of them were executed in Paneriai or in the ghetto itself. In remembrance, there’s a memorial plaque at the entrance to the ghetto, which also bears a plan of the area. It’s an interesting visit for those interested in history, particularly the war era.
The Cathedral is one of Vilnius’ most important places of worship, and holds many religious events each year. Many prominent figures have also been buried there, like bishops and noblemen (and even several queens!) It’s also a particularly beautiful cathedral, with impressive interior artwork, and a must-visit while you’re in Vilnius.
National Gallery of Art
This is another of Vilnius’ fantastic galleries. It has ten rooms of artworks from the 20th and 21st century, but unlike the Art Centre, it features mostly Lithuanian artists. International artists are showcased in the Grand Exhibition Hall.
Gates of Dawn
The Gates of Dawn is one of the most popular and visited shrines in Vilnius. It contains a famous painting of the Virgin Mary – situated in the chapel – known as the icon of the Holy Mother of Mercy. She was painted as a protector of the city, as the gate once served as a defence mechanism. The icon has been replicated in chapels all over the world, but the one in Vilnius is the original. It’s the only one of the city’s nine gates still standing and it’s in stunning condition.
Vilnius Picture Gallery
The permanent exhibitions here offer a look into Lithuanian art from the 16th Century onwards. The gallery also hosts events such as classical music concerts, interesting exhibitions and other cultural events.