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Vilnius

"Vilna", "Wilna", and "Wilno" redirect here. For other uses, see Vilna (disambiguation), Wilna (disambiguation), and Wilno (disambiguation).

Vilnius ( , Lithuanian: (); see also other names) is the capital and largest city of Lithuania, with a population of 588,412 as of 2021[update]. The population of Vilnius's functional urban area, which stretches beyond the city limits, is estimated at 706,832 (as of 2019), while according to the Vilnius territorial health insurance fund, there were 732,421 permanent inhabitants as of October 2020 in Vilnius city and Vilnius district municipalities combined. Vilnius is in southeastern Lithuania and is the second-largest city in the Baltic states. It is the seat of Lithuania's national government and the Vilnius District Municipality.

Vilnius
Nickname(s):
Jerusalem of Lithuania, Rome of the North, Athens of the North, New Babylon, The city/capital of Palemon
Motto(s):
Unitas, Justitia, Spes
(Latin: Unity, Justice, Hope)
Interactive map of Vilnius
Vilnius
Location within Lithuania
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Vilnius
Location within the Baltics
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Vilnius
Location within Europe
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Vilnius
Vilnius (Earth)
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Coordinates:54°41′N25°17′E /54.683°N 25.283°E /54.683; 25.283Coordinates: 54°41′N25°17′E /54.683°N 25.283°E /54.683; 25.283
CountryLithuania
CountyVilnius County
MunicipalityVilnius City Municipality
Capital ofLithuania
First mentioned1323
Granted city rights1387
Elderships
Government
• TypeCity council
• MayorRemigijus Šimašius
Area
Capital city401 km2 (155 sq mi)
Elevation
112 m (367 ft)
Population
(2021)
Capital city588,412
• Rank(31st in EU)
• Density1,392/km2 (3,610/sq mi)
Urban
706,832
Demonym(s)Vilnian
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
• Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
01001–14191
Area code(s)(+370) 5
GMP (nominal)2019
– Total€20.7 billion
($24B)
– Per capita€25,400
($29012)
City budget€740 million
HDI (2019)0.920very high
Websitevilnius.lt
Official nameHistoric Centre of Vilnius
TypeCultural
Criteriaii, iv
Designated1994 (18th session)
Reference no.[1]
UNESCO regionEurope

Vilnius is classified as a Gamma global city according to GaWC studies, and is known for the architecture in its Old Town, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Before World War II, Vilnius was one of the largest Jewish centres in Europe. Its Jewish influence has led to its nickname "the Jerusalem of Lithuania". Napoleon called it "the Jerusalem of the North" as he was passing through in 1812. In 2009, Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture, together with Linz, Austria. In 2021, Vilnius was named among top-25 fDi's Global Cities of the Future – one of the most forward-thinking cities with the greatest potential in the World.

Contents

The name of the city originates from the Vilnia River, from the Lithuanian for ripple. The city has also had many derivative spellings in various languages throughout its history: Vilna was once common in English. The most notable non-Lithuanian names for the city include Polish: Wilno, Belarusian:Вiльня (Viĺnia), German: Wilna, Latvian: Viļņa, Ukrainian:Вільно (Vilno), Yiddish:ווילנע‎ (Vilne). A Russian name from the time of the Russian Empire was Вильна (Vilna), although Вильнюс (Vilnyus) is now used. The names Wilno, Wilna and Vilna were also used in older English, German, French and Italian language publications when the city was one of the capitals of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and an important city in the Second Polish Republic. The name Vilna is still used in Finnish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Hebrew. Wilna is still used in German, along with Vilnius.

The neighborhoods of Vilnius also have names in other languages, which represent the languages spoken by various ethnic groups in the area.

According to legend, Grand Duke Gediminas (c. 1275–1341) was hunting in the sacred forest near the Valley of Šventaragis, near where the Vilnia River flows into the Neris River. Tired after the successful hunt of a wisent, the Grand Duke settled in for the night. He fell soundly asleep and dreamed of a huge Iron Wolf standing on top a hill and howling as strong and loud as a hundred wolves. Upon awakening, the Duke asked the krivis (pagan priest) Lizdeika to interpret the dream. The priest told him,

"What is destined for the ruler and the State of Lithuania, is thus: the Iron Wolf represents a castle and a city which will be established by you on this site. This city will be the capital of the Lithuanian lands and the dwelling of their rulers, and the glory of their deeds shall echo throughout the world."

Therefore, Gediminas, obeying the will of the gods, built the city, and gave it the name Vilnius, from the Vilnia River.

Early history and Grand Duchy of Lithuania

King Mindaugas Monument

Historian Romas Batūra identifies the city with Voruta, one of the castles of Mindaugas, who was King of Lithuania after coronation in 1253. During the reign of Grand Dukes Butvydas and Vytenis, a city started emerging from a trading settlement and the first Franciscan Catholic church was built.

Vilnius is the historic and present-day capital of Lithuania. Archeological findings indicate that this city was the capital of the Kingdom of Lithuania and later that of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. After Lithuania formed a dual confederation with the Kingdom of Poland, Vilnius still remained as Lithuania's capital.

The city was first mentioned in written sources in 1323 as Vilna, when the Letters of Grand Duke Gediminas were sent to German cities inviting Germans (including German Jews) to settle in the capital city, as well as to Pope John XXII. These letters contain the first unambiguous reference to Vilnius as the capital; Old Trakai Castle had been the earlier seat of the court of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Grand Duke Algirdas (left) consolidated Lithuania as a superpower of the region and multiple times devastated Moscow as a response to the Muscovy attacks on the Lithuanian lands. Under the reign of Vytautas the Great (right), Vilnius emerged as the capital of Europe's largest state.

Vilnius' location offered practical advantages: it lay in the Lithuanian heartland at the confluence of two navigable rivers (Vilnia and Neris), surrounded by impenetrable forests and wetlands.

At the time of the 14th century, Lithuania was continuously invaded by the State of the Teutonic Order. The future King of England Henry IV (then Henry Bolingbroke) spent a full year of 1390 supporting the unsuccessful siege of Vilnius by Teutonic Knights with his 300 fellow knights. During this campaign he bought captured Lithuanian women and children and took them back to Königsberg for their conversion. King Henry's second expedition to Lithuania in 1392 illustrates the financial benefits of these guest crusaders to the Order. His small army consisted of over 100 men, including longbow archers and six minstrels, at a total cost to the Lancastrian purse of £4,360. Despite the efforts of Bolingbroke and his English crusaders, two years of attacks on Vilnius proved fruitless.

Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and Grand Duke Gediminas Monument with the howling iron wolf

Vilnius was the flourishing capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the residence of the Grand Duke. Gediminas expanded the Grand Duchy through warfare along with strategic alliances and marriages. At its height it covered the territory of modern-day Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Transnistria, and portions of modern-day Poland and Russia. His grandchildren Vytautas the Great and Jogaila, however, fought civil wars. During the Lithuanian Civil War of 1389–1392, Vytautas besieged and razed the city in an attempt to wrest control from Jogaila. The two Gediminids cousins later settled their differences; after a series of treaties culminating in the 1569 Union of Lublin, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was formed. The Commonwealth's rulers held two titles: Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland. In 1387, Jogaila acting as a Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland, granted Magdeburg rights to the city. The city underwent a period of expansion in the 16th century. The Wall of Vilnius were built for protection between 1503 and 1522, comprising nine city gates and three towers, and Sigismund II Augustus moved his court there in 1544.

"I saw as many jewels as I did not expect to find accumulated in one place; with them the treasures of Venice and the Pope, which I have also seen, cannot be compared."

— Papal nuncio Berardo Bongiovanni recalling about Sigismund II Augustus's treasury kept in the Grand Ducal Palace in 1560. Vilnius was Sigismund's favorite city, his investments made it one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern and Central Europe.

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

Vilnius panorama in 1600 by Tomasz Makowski

Vilnius' growth was due in part to the establishment of Alma Academia et Universitas Vilnensis Societatis Iesu by the Polish King and Grand Duke of Lithuania Stephen Báthory in 1579. The university soon developed into one of the most important scientific and cultural centres in the region and the most notable scientific centre of the Commonwealth.

During its rapid development, the city was open to migrants from the territories of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, Grand Duchy and further. Many languages were spoken: Polish, German, Yiddish, Ruthenian, Lithuanian, Russian, Old Church Slavonic, Latin, Hebrew, and Turkic languages; the city was compared to Babylon. Each group contributed uniquely to the city's life, and crafts, trade, and science prospered.

The 17th century brought a number of setbacks. The Commonwealth was involved in a series of wars, collectively known as The Deluge. During the Thirteen Years' War (1654–1667), Vilnius was occupied by Muscovite forces; it was pillaged and burned, and its population massacred. During the Great Northern War it was looted by the Swedish army. An outbreak of bubonic plague in 1710 killed about 35,000 residents; devastating fires occurred in 1715, 1737, 1741, 1748, and 1749. The city's growth lost its momentum for many years, but even despite this fact, at the end of the 18th century and before the Napoleon wars, Vilnius, with 56,000 inhabitants, entered the Russian Empire as its third-largest city.

La Grande Armée in Vilnius during its retreat (near the Vilnius Town Hall). In the beginning of his invasion of Russia, Napoleon established the Lithuanian Provisional Governing Commission, with the nobility seeing him as a liberator.

In the Russian Empire

The fortunes of the Commonwealth declined during the 18th century. Three partitions took place, dividing its territory among the Russian Empire, the Habsburg Empire, and the Kingdom of Prussia. Forces led by Jakub Jasiński expelled Russians from Vilnius during the uprising in 1794. However, after the third partition of April 1795, Vilnius was annexed by the Russian Empire and became the capital of the Vilna Governorate. During Russian rule, the city walls were destroyed, and by 1805 only the Gate of Dawn remained. In 1812, the city was taken by Napoleon on his push towards Moscow, and again during the disastrous retreat. The Grande Armée was welcomed in Vilnius. Thousands of soldiers died in the city during the eventual retreat; the mass graves were uncovered in 2002. Inhabitants expected Tsar Alexander I to grant them autonomy in response to Napoleon's promises to restore the Commonwealth, but Vilnius did not become autonomous, neither by itself nor as a part of Congress Poland.

Following the November uprising in 1831, Vilnius University was closed and Russian repressions halted the further development of the city. Civil unrest in 1861 was suppressed by the Imperial Russian Army.

During the January uprising in 1863, heavy fighting occurred within the city, but was brutally pacified by Mikhail Muravyov, nicknamed The Hangman by the population because of the many executions he organized. After the uprising, all civil liberties were withdrawn, and use of the Polish and Lithuanian languages was banned. Vilnius had a vibrant Jewish population: according to the Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 154,500, Jews constituted 64,000 (approximately 40%). During the early 20th century, the Lithuanian-speaking population of Vilnius constituted only a small minority, with Polish, Yiddish, and Russian speakers comprising the majority of the city's population.

In 1905, the Great Seimas of Vilnius took place in the current Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society building

On 4–5 December 1905, the Great Seimas of Vilnius was held in the current Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society building with over 2000 participants. It was the first modern national congress in Lithuania. The assembly decided to demand wide political autonomy within the Russian Empire and achieve this by peaceful means. It is considered an important step towards the Act of Independence of Lithuania, adopted on 16 February 1918 by the Council of Lithuania, as the Seimas laid the groundwork for the establishment of an independent Lithuanian state.

World War I

During World War I, Vilnius and the rest of Lithuania was occupied by the German Army from 1915 until 1918. The Act of Independence of Lithuania, which declared Lithuanian independence without any affiliation to any other nation, was issued in the city on 16 February 1918 with Vilnius as its capital.

Regional turmoil 1918–1920

At the end of 1918 Soviet Russia invaded Lithuania with massive forces, and the Lithuanian Army withdrew from Vilnius to the center of the country in order to form a defense line. The German Army withdrew together with the Lithuanian government. The Self-Defence of Lithuania, which was affiliated with the Second Polish Republic, briefly controlled the city and unsuccessfully tried protecting it against the invading Soviet forces. Vilnius changed hands again during the Polish–Soviet War and the Lithuanian Wars of Independence: it was taken by the Polish Army, only to fall to Soviet forces again. Shortly after the Red Army's defeat at the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, in order to delay the Polish advance, the Soviet government ceded the city to Lithuania after the signing the Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty on 12 July 1920.

The League of Nations became involved in the subsequent Lithuanian self defense from Poland after it attacked Lithuanian army positions in the south west of Lithuania. The League brokered the ceasefire called the Suwałki Agreement on 7 October 1920. Lithuanians believed that it stopped a Polish aggression. Although neither Vilnius or the surrounding region was explicitly addressed in the agreement, numerous historians have described the agreement as allotting Vilnius to Lithuania. On 9 October 1920, the Polish Army surreptitiously, under General Lucjan Żeligowski, seized Vilnius during an operation known as Żeligowski's Mutiny. The city and its surroundings were designated as a separate state, called the Republic of Central Lithuania.

Celebration of incorporation of Vilnius Region to Poland in 1922. The event sparked vast Lithuanians anger with a popular interwar chant: "Mes be Vilniaus nenurimsim!" (English:We will not calm down without Vilnius!)

Interbellum

On 20 February 1922, after the highly contested election in Central Lithuania, the entire area was annexed by Poland, with the city becoming the capital of the Wilno Voivodeship (Wilno being the name of Vilnius in Polish). Kaunas then became the temporary capital of Lithuania. Lithuania vigorously contested the Polish annexation of Vilnius, and refused diplomatic relations with Poland. The predominant languages of the city were still Polish and, to a lesser extent, Yiddish. The Lithuanian-speaking population at the time was a small minority, at about 6% of the city's population according even to contemporary Lithuanian sources. The Council of Ambassadors and the international community (with the exception of Lithuania) recognized Polish sovereignty over Vilnius Region in 1923.

Vilnius University was reopened in 1919 under the name of Stefan Batory University. By 1931, the city had 195,000 inhabitants, making it the fifth largest city in Poland with varied industries, such as Elektrit, a factory that produced radio receivers.

World War II

Lithuanian Army tanks in Vilnius after regaining control of the capital

Nazi Germany had invited Lithuania to join the invasion of Poland and retake the historical capital Vilnius by force; however, President Antanas Smetona and most of the Lithuanian politicians declined this offer because they had doubts about Adolf Hitler's eventual victory and were outraged by the 1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania. Instead, they supported the neutrality policy and after being encouraged by the French and British diplomats – Lithuania adopted the Neutrality Act, which was supported by all the political forces.

World War II began with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. The secret protocols of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact had partitioned Lithuania and Poland into German and Soviet spheres of interest. On 19 September 1939, Vilnius was seized by the Soviet Union (which invaded Poland on 17 September). The Soviets repressed the local population and devastated city, moving assets and factories to the USSR territory, including the major Polish radio factory Elektrit, along with a part of its labor force, to Minsk in Belarus SSR. The Soviets and Lithuania concluded a mutual assistance treaty on 10 October 1939, with which the Lithuanian government accepted the presence of Soviet military bases in various parts of the country. On 28 October 1939, the Red Army withdrew from the city to its suburbs (to Naujoji Vilnia) and Vilnius was given over to Lithuania. A Lithuanian Army parade took place on 29 October 1939 through the city center. The Lithuanians immediately attempted to re-Lithuanize the city, for example by Lithuanizing Polish schools.

Just after the beginning of the World War II, on 2 September 1939, the Lithuanian Consulate was opened in Vilnius. The consulate was the first in the world to grant Visas For Life for the Jews and also saved many Polish war refugees.

The whole of Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union on 3 August 1940 following a June ultimatum from the Soviets demanding, among other things, that unspecified numbers of Red Army soldiers be allowed to enter the country for the purpose of helping to form a more pro-Soviet government. After the ultimatum was issued and Lithuania further occupied, a Soviet government was installed with Vilnius as the capital of the newly created Lithuanian SSR. Between 20,000 and 30,000 of the city's inhabitants were subsequently arrested by the NKVD and sent to gulags in the far eastern areas of the Soviet Union.

Povilas Plechavičius, commander of the LTDF

On 22 June 1941, the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union, while at the same time Lithuanians began the anti-Soviet June Uprising, organized by the Lithuanian Activist Front. Lithuanians proclaimed independence and organized the Provisional Government of Lithuania. This government quickly self-disbanded. Nazis captured Vilnius on 24 June 1941. Lithuania became part of the Reichskommissariat Ostland, German civil administration. Two ghettos were set up in the old town centre for the large Jewish population – the smaller one of which was "liquidated" by October. The larger ghetto lasted until 1943, though its population was regularly deported in roundups known as "Aktionen". A forced labour camp (Kailis) was also set up behind the Vilnius Town Hall as a factory to produce winter clothing for the Wehrmacht and another one later for vehicle repair (HKP 562) on 47 & 49 Subačiaus Street. A failed ghetto uprising on 1 September 1943 organized by the Fareinigte Partizaner Organizacje (the United Partisan Organization, the first Jewish partisan unit in German-occupied Europe), was followed by the final destruction of the ghetto. During the Holocaust, about 95% of the 265,000-strong Jewish population of Lithuania was murdered by the German units and Lithuanian Nazi collaborators, many of them in Paneriai, about 10 km (6.2 mi) west of the old town centre (see the Ponary massacre).

In 1944, after the Nazis suffered losses in the Eastern Front and the Red Army was approaching, the Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force (LTDF) was established under the command of general Povilas Plechavičius. The LTDF mission was to defend the country within its borders against the Red Army and the Soviet partisans. On 1 April 1944, the LTDF battalions entered Vilnius and confronted the Armia Krajowa (AK), which unsuccessfully attempted to capture the city before the Soviets (see Operation Ostra Brama). The AK tried to negotiate a non-aggression pact with Plechavičius, but the Lithuanian side demanded the Poles to abandon the Vilnius Region or subordinate themselves to Lithuanians. The 19 500 men LTDF disbanded itself after refusing to transcend the Lithuanian border and to aid the Nazis in the Eastern Front. Many of the former LTDF members later formed the core of the Lithuanian partisans (e.g. Jonas Žemaitis).

In the Lithuanian SSR (Soviet Union)

The former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, now the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights

In July 1944, Vilnius was once more occupied by Soviet Army with the Vilnius offensive, during which it defeated the German garrison. The town was once more the Lithuanian SSR's capital. The NKVD began repressions against Lithuanians and Armia Krajowa. Sovietization began in earnest.

The war had irreversibly altered the city – most of the city's population was removed from the city and 40% of its buildings were destroyed, including numerous historic architectural monuments. The Jewish population had been exterminated in the Holocaust, while most of the remaining ones were compelled to move to Communist Poland by 1946. Some partisans and members of the intelligentsia hiding in the forest were now targeted and deported to Siberia after the war.[citation needed]

From the late 1940s on Vilnius began to grow again, following an influx of Lithuanians, Poles and Belarusians from neighbouring regions and throughout Lithuania as well as neighbouring region of Grodno and from other more remote areas of the Soviet Union (particularly Russia, Belarus and Ukraine).[citation needed] Most of these new residents moved to Vilnius, due to repressions or poor living conditions caused by, e.g. collectivisation, in areas, where they lived previously. On the previously rural outskirts as well as in the very vicinity of the Old Town (industrial zones in Paupys, Markučiai, Naujamiestis), industrial areas were (re)designed and large Soviet plants were built, following a program of industrialization.[citation needed]

In November 1980, the number of inhabitants of Vilnius exceeded 500,000. Because of shortage of housing for a growing population of the city, large scale Microdistricts (so-called sleeping districts) were built in the elderates of Antakalnis, Žirmūnai, Lazdynai, Karoliniškės, Viršuliškės, Baltupiai, Justiniškės, Pašilaičiai, Fabijoniškės and on a smaller scale in other parts of Vilnius. These were connected with the central part as well as with industrial areas via expressway-like streets (so-called fast traffic streets) and by public transport, noticeably extensive network of trolleybuses (from 1956).

Independent Lithuania

Skyline of the New City Center from Karoliniškės outcrop, with the majority of high-rise buildings constructed in the last two decades after the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania was declared
Annual commemoration of January Events in the Independence Square near the Seimas Palace with bonfires

On 11 March 1990, the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian SSR announced its secession from the Soviet Union and intention to restore an independent Republic of Lithuania. As a result of these declarations, on 9 January 1991, the Soviet Union sent in troops. This culminated in the 13 January attack on the State Radio and Television Building and the Vilnius TV Tower, killing at least fourteen civilians and seriously injuring 700 more. The Soviet Union finally recognised Lithuanian independence in September 1991. The Constitution, as did the earlier Lithuanian Constitution of 1922, mentions that "the capital of the State of Lithuania shall be the city of Vilnius, the long-standing historical capital of Lithuania".

Vilnius has been rapidly transforming, emerging as a modern European city. The majority of its historical buildings during the last 25 years had been renovated, and a business and commercial area is being developed into the New City Centre, that is expected to become the city's main administrative and business district on the north side of the Neris river. This area includes modern residential and retail space, with the municipality building and the 148.3-metre (487 ft) Europa Tower as its most prominent buildings. The construction of Swedbank's headquarters is symbolic of the importance of Scandinavian banks in Vilnius. The building complex Vilnius Business Harbour was built in 2008, and one of its towers is now the 6th tallest building in Lithuania. More buildings are scheduled for construction in the area. More than 75,000 new flats were built between 1995 and 2018 (including almost 50,000 new flats between 2003 and 2018), making Vilnius an absolute leader in construction sector in the Baltics of the last two decades. On average, 298,000-square-metre (3,210,000 sq ft) or 3,246 flats are built each year. In 2015, there were 225,871 units in multi-storey houses and 20,578 flats in single-family or duplex apartment houses, the share of such housing increasing from 6.9% in 2006 to 8.3% in 2015. The record numbers of flats were built in 2019 – 4,322 flats in multi-family residentials were built in Vilnius city municipality and 817 flats were built in Vilnius urban zone (the city and the closest surroundings) in single-family detached houses – the later being the highest number in history.

Vilnius was selected as a 2009 European Capital of Culture, along with Linz, the capital of Upper Austria. Its 2009 New Year's Eve celebration, marking the event, featured a light show said to be "visible from outer space". In preparation, the historical centre of the city was restored, and its main monuments were renovated.

The global economic crisis led to a drop in tourism which prevented many of the projects from reaching their planned extent, and allegations of corruption and incompetence were made against the organisers, while tax increases for cultural activity led to public protests and the general economic conditions sparked riots. In 2015 Remigijus Šimašius became the first directly elected mayor of the city.

On 28–29 November 2013, Vilnius hosted the Eastern Partnership Summit in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Many European presidents, prime ministers and other high-ranking officials participated in the event. On 29 November 2013, Georgia and Moldova signed association and free trade agreements with the European Union. Previously, Ukraine and Armenia were also expected to sign the agreements but postponed the decision, sparking large protests in Ukraine.

The 2023 NATO summit will be held in Vilnius.

Neris River at Mindaugas Bridge with Vilnius Upper Castle in the distance. A favorable geographic location made the Upper Castle on the Gediminas' Hill unconquerable for hundreds of years.

Vilnius is situated in south-eastern Lithuania (54°41′N25°17′E /54.683°N 25.283°E /54.683; 25.283) at the confluence of the Vilnia and Neris rivers.

Multiple countries claims that the Geographical Centre of Europe is located in their territories, however the only location with recognition in the Guinness Book of World Records is located near Vilnius. After a re-estimation of the boundaries of the continent of Europe in 1989, Jean-George Affholder, a scientist at the Institut Géographique National (French National Geographic Institute) determined that the geographic centre of Europe is located at 54°54′N25°19′E /54.900°N 25.317°E /54.900; 25.317 (Purnuškės (centre of gravity)). The method used for calculating this point was that of the centre of gravity of the geometrical figure of Europe. This point is located in Lithuania, near the village of Girija (26 kilometres from Vilnius). A monument, composed by the sculptor Gediminas Jokūbonis and consisting of a column of white granite surmounted by a crown of stars, was erected at the location in 2004.

Vilnius lies 312 km (194 mi) from the Baltic Sea and Klaipėda, the chief Lithuanian seaport. Vilnius is connected by highways to other major Lithuanian cities, such as Kaunas (102 km or 63 mi away), Šiauliai (214 km or 133 mi away) and Panevėžys (135 km or 84 mi away).

The area of Vilnius is 402 square kilometres (155 sq mi). Buildings occupy 29.1% of the city; green spaces occupy 68.8%; and waters occupy 2.1%.

Nature reserves

Vilnius has eight protected nature reserves: Vokės Senslėnio Slopes Geomorphological Reserve, Aukštagiris Geomorphological Reserve, Valakupių Klonio Geomorphological Reserve, Veržuva Hydrographic Reserve, Vokė Hydrographic Reserve, Cedronas Upstream Landscape Reserve, Tapeliai Landscape Reserve and Šeškinė Slopes Geomorphological Reserve.

Foggy winter sunrise in Vilnius

The climate of Vilnius is humid continental (Köppen climate classification Dfb). Temperature records have been kept since 1777. The average annual temperature is 7.3 °C (45 °F); in January the average temperature is −3.9 °C (25 °F), in July it is 18.7 °C (66 °F). The average precipitation is about 691 millimetres (27.20 in) per year. Average annual temperatures in the city have increased significantly during the last 30 years, a change which the Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service attributes to global warming induced by human activities.

Summer days are pleasantly warm and sometimes hot, especially in July and August, with temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) throughout the day during periodic heat waves. Night-life in Vilnius is in full swing at this time of year, and outdoor bars, restaurants and cafés become very popular during the daytime.

Winters can be very cold, with temperatures rarely reaching above freezing – temperatures below −25 °C (−13 °F) are not unheard-of in January and February. Vilnius's rivers freeze over in particularly cold winters, and the lakes surrounding the city are almost always permanently frozen during this time of year. A popular pastime is ice-fishing.

The Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service is headquartered in Vilnius and monitors climate of Vilnius and Lithuania.

Climate data for Vilnius (1991–2020 normals, sun 1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 11.0
(51.8)
14.4
(57.9)
19.8
(67.6)
29.0
(84.2)
31.8
(89.2)
34.2
(93.6)
36.4
(97.5)
34.9
(94.8)
33.1
(91.6)
24.5
(76.1)
15.5
(59.9)
10.5
(50.9)
36.4
(97.5)
Average high °C (°F) −1.7
(28.9)
−0.5
(31.1)
4.4
(39.9)
12.6
(54.7)
18.4
(65.1)
21.7
(71.1)
23.8
(74.8)
23.1
(73.6)
17.4
(63.3)
10.2
(50.4)
3.7
(38.7)
−0.3
(31.5)
11.2
(52.2)
Daily mean °C (°F) −3.9
(25.0)
−3.1
(26.4)
0.9
(33.6)
7.6
(45.7)
13.0
(55.4)
16.4
(61.5)
18.7
(65.7)
17.9
(64.2)
13.0
(55.4)
7.0
(44.6)
1.8
(35.2)
−2.2
(28.0)
7.3
(45.1)
Average low °C (°F) −5.9
(21.4)
−5.6
(21.9)
−2.7
(27.1)
2.6
(36.7)
7.5
(45.5)
11.1
(52.0)
13.6
(56.5)
12.7
(54.9)
8.5
(47.3)
3.7
(38.7)
−0.1
(31.8)
−4.1
(24.6)
3.5
(38.3)
Record low °C (°F) −37.2
(−35.0)
−35.8
(−32.4)
−29.6
(−21.3)
−14.4
(6.1)
−4.4
(24.1)
0.1
(32.2)
3.5
(38.3)
1.0
(33.8)
−4.8
(23.4)
−14.4
(6.1)
−22.8
(−9.0)
−30.5
(−22.9)
−37.2
(−35.0)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 38.9
(1.53)
34.4
(1.35)
37.0
(1.46)
46.2
(1.82)
52.1
(2.05)
72.7
(2.86)
79.3
(3.12)
75.8
(2.98)
65.2
(2.57)
51.5
(2.03)
51.5
(2.03)
49.2
(1.94)
653.8
(25.74)
Average precipitation days 21.7 18.4 17.5 10.2 12.4 11.7 11.4 10.5 9.7 13.5 16.7 21.2 174.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 37 70 117 165 242 231 220 217 141 93 33 25 1,591
Average ultraviolet index 0 1 2 3 5 6 6 5 3 2 1 0 3
Source: WMO (avg high and low) NOAA (sun, extremes, and mean temperatures), Météo Climat and Weather Atlas


Painting and sculpture

Gothic wall frescoes of the Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard (16th century)
Tombstone of Lew Sapieha, ca. 1633, at Church of St. Michael

For centuries, Vilnius as a capital city was an art centre of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and has attracted artists from all across Europe. The oldest works of art which remained from the early Gothic period (14th century) are paintings dedicated to churches and liturgy (e.g. frescoes in the Crypts of Vilnius Cathedral, decorated hymns books). Walls paintings from the 16th centuries were also discovered in Vilnius (e.g. painting of the Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard vaults or in the Church of Saint Nicholas). Gothic wooden, mostly polychrome sculptures were used to decorate the altars of the churches of Vilnius. Some Gothic seals from the 14–15th centuries remained till the nowadays (Kęstutis, Vytautas the Great, Sigismund II Augustus).

In the early 16th century, the Renaissance sculptures appeared, which were mostly created by Italian sculptors: Bernardinus Zanobi da Gianotti, Giovani Cini, Giovanni Maria Padovano. In the Renaissance period, portrait tombstones and medals were highly valued (e.g. marle tomb of Albertas Goštautas, 1548, by B. Z. da Gianotti, tomb of Povilas Alšėniškis, 1555, by G. Cini, both located in the Vilnius Cathedral). The works of Italian sculptors are characterized by a naturalistic treatment of forms, precise proportions, tectonicity, a realistic representation of the deceased. The local sculptors took over only the iconographic scheme of the Renaissance tomb; their works (e.g. tomb of Lew Sapieha, ca. 1633, at Church of St. Michael) are characterized by conditionality of forms, stylization. During this period local and Western European painters created religious, mythologic compositions, portraits, which were intertwined with late Gothic and Baroque features. Illustrated prayer books illustrations and miniatures have survived.

The Baroque period which began in the late 16th century was exceptional for Vilnius as wall painting blossomed in the city. Most of the palaces and churches were decorated with frescoes characterized by bright colors, sophisticated angles and dramatism style. Also during this period the secular painting spread – representational, imaginative, epitaph portraits, scenes of battles, politically important events. It is characterized by detailed realistic style. This period sculptures dominated in the sacred architecture (tombstones with sculptural portraits, exterior and interior decorative sculptures), made of wood, marble and stucco. Italian sculptors (e.g. G. P. Perti, G. M. Galli, A. S. Capone) were exceptionally important in the 17th century Grand Duchy's sculptures development and were invited there by the Lithuanian nobility. Their works are characterized by the features of mature baroque: expressiveness of forms, sensuality, atectonic composition (e.g. sculptural decor of the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul). The local sculptors emphasized the decorative features of the baroque, and the expressiveness and emotionality of the baroque was less characteristic in their works.

At the late 18th and 19th centuries, the Lithuanian painting was largely influenced by the Vilnius Art School which introduced manifestations of Classicism art and later of Romanticism art. The painters had internships abroad, mainly in Italy. Painting of allegorical, mythological compositions, landscapes, portraits of representatives of various circles of society was begun; historical themes prevailed. The most famous Classicism painters from this time are Pranciškus Smuglevičius, Jan Rustem, Juozapas Oleškevičius, Danielius Kondratavičius, Juozapas Peška, Vincentas Smakauskas. While the Romanticism art is characterized by Jan Rustem, Jonas Damelis, Vincentas Dmachauskas, Kanutas Ruseckas works. After the closure of Vilnius University in 1832, the artistic direction formed by the representatives of the Vilnius Art School influenced the further development of Lithuanian art.

Development of art in the first half of the 20th century was promoted by activities and exhibitions of the Lithuanian Art Society, established in 1907 by Petras Rimša, Antanas Žmuidzinavičius, Antanas Jaroševičius, and Vilnius Art Society, established in 1908. This period is characterized by Jonas Šileika, Justinas Vienožinskis, Jonas Mackevičius, Vytautas Kairiūkštis, Vytautas Pranas Bičiūnas works. They continued the traditions of Western European styles (symbolism, realism, art nouveau) and followed the modernism art directions. Although, after the World War II the method of socialist realism was introduced – propaganda paintings, compositions of historical, household genre, still lifes, landscapes, portraits and sculptures.

The most notable late 20th and 21st centuries Vilnian painters are Žygimantas Augustinas, Eglė Ridikaitė, Eglė Gineitytė, Patricija Jurkšaitytė, Jurga Barilaitė, Solomonas Teitelbaumas.

Many prominent art galleries are located in Vilnius. Lithuania's largest art collection is housed in the Lithuanian Art Museum. One branch of it, the Vilnius Picture Gallery in the Vilnius Old Town, houses a collection of Lithuanian art from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century. On the other side of the Neris, the National Art Gallery holds a permanent exhibition on Lithuanian 20th-century art, as well as numerous exhibitions on modern art. The Contemporary Art Centre is the largest venue for contemporary art in the Baltic States, with an exhibition space of 2400 square meters. The centre is a non-collection based institution committed to developing a broad range of international and Lithuanian exhibition projects as well as presenting a wide range of public programmes including lectures, seminars, performances, film and video screenings, and live new music events. On 10 November 2007, the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center was opened by avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas with its premiere exhibition entitled The Avant-Garde: From Futurism to Fluxus. In 2018, the MO Museum was opened and is a personal initiative of Lithuanian scientists and philanthropists Danguolė and Viktoras Butkus. Its collection of 5000 modern and contemporary pieces contains major Lithuanian artworks from the 1950s to this day.

The Užupis district near the Old Town, which used to be one of the more run-down districts of Vilnius during the Soviet era, is home to a movement of bohemian artists, who operate numerous art galleries and workshops. Užupis declared itself an independent republic on April Fool's Day in 1997. In the main square, the statue of an angel blowing a trumpet stands as a symbol of artistic freedom.

In 1995, the world's first bronze cast of Frank Zappa was installed in the Naujamiestis district with the permission of the government. The Frank Zappa sculpture confirmed the newly found freedom of expression and marked the beginning of a new era for Lithuanian society.

In 2015, the project of Vilnius Talking Statues was realized. Eighteen statues around Vilnius interact with visitors in multiple languages by a telephone call to a smartphone.

Literature

Zawadzki bookstore on the present-day Pilies Street. The store banners are printed in five languages: Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, French, German.

About 1520, Francysk Skaryna, who is the author of the first Ruthenian Bible, established a printing house in Vilnius – the first in Eastern Europe. In 1522, he prepared and published the first printed book of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, titled the Little Traveller's Book (Ruthenian language: Малая подорожная книжка). In 1525, he printed the Acts and Epistles of the Apostles (the Apostle).

The Vilnius Academy Press was established in 1575 by the Lithuanian noble Mikołaj Krzysztof "the Orphan" Radziwiłł as the printing house of the Vilnius Academy. He delegated the management of the printing house to the Jesuits. In May 1576, it published its first book Pro Sacratissima Eucharistia contra haeresim Zwinglianam by Piotr Skarga. The Vilnius Academy Press situation was exceptional because its activities were funded by the secular society, the Lithuanian nobility and the Church. In 1805, Józef Zawadzki bought the Vilnius Academy Press and founded the Józef Zawadzki printing shop which continuously worked till 1939 and published books in multiple languages. The first poetry book of Adam Mickiewicz was published there in 1822.

Gate of the Basilian Monastery where poet Adam Mickiewicz was imprisoned for fighting the Russian rule

One of the creators of Lithuanian writing, Mikalojus Daukša, translated and published the Catechism by Spanish Jesuit theologist Jacobo Ledesma in 1595 – this was the first printed Lithuanian language book in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. He also translated and published the Jakub Wujek's Postilla Catholica in 1599 (both in Vilnius).

The Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore (Vileišis Palace)

Many famous writers were born, lived in Vilnius or are alumnus of the Vilnius University (e.g. Konstantinas Sirvydas, Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski, Antoni Gorecki, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, Antoni Edward Odyniec, Michał Józef Römer, Adam Mickiewicz, Władysław Syrokomla, Józef Mackiewicz, Romain Gary, Juliusz Słowacki, Simonas Daukantas, Mykolas Biržiška, Petras Cvirka (who was killed in Vilnius by soviet secret police), Kazys Bradūnas, Nobel prize-winner Czesław Miłosz, Jurga Ivanauskaitė).

The first consideration of the First Statute of Lithuania took place in 1522 at the Seimas of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in Vilnius. The Statute of Lithuania has been drafted under the guidance of Grand Chancellor of Lithuania Albertas Goštautas and in accordance with the courts' jurisprudence formed by customary law, Heads of State legislation on certain matters and by the provisions of the canon law and Roman law regulations. It is the first official codification of this kind of secular law in Europe.

Lithuanian nationalist Albertas Goštautas actively supported the Lithuanian language usage in the Lithuanian literature and protected Lithuanian authors, including Abraomas Kulvietis and Michael the Lithuanian, who criticised the usage of Old Slavonic church language and called refugees Old Believers as the Muscovian spies in his book De moribus tartarorum, lituanorum et moscorum.

Since the 16th century, the Lithuanian Metrica was kept at the Lower Castle and safeguarded by the State Chancellor. Due to the deterioration of the books, the State Grand Chancellor, Lew Sapieha, ordered the volumes of the Metrica to be recopied in 1594. The recopying process continued until 1607. The newly recopied books were inventoried, rechecked, and transferred to a separate building in Vilnius, with the older books remaining in the Castle of Vilnius. According to the 1983 data, 665 books have remained till the nowadays and their microfilms are preserved at the Lithuanian State Historical Archives in Vilnius.

Over 200 tiles and commemorative plaques to writers, who have lived and worked in Vilnius, and foreign authors, who have shared a connection with Vilnius and Lithuania, adorn walls on Literatų Street (Lithuanian: Literatų gatvė) in the Old Town, presenting a broad overview of the history of Lithuanian literature.

The Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore and the Lithuanian Writers' Union are located in Vilnius.

The biggest book fair in Baltic states is annually held in Vilnius at LITEXPO, the Baltic's biggest exhibition centre.

Cinema

Billboard above the Botanical Garden (now Bernardinai Garden) main gates of the first cinema screening in Vilnius (1897)

The very first public film session in Vilnius was held in the Botanical Garden (now Bernardinai Garden) in the summer of 1897. It is notable that such an event was held in Vilnius soon after the very first film sessions in the world by Auguste and Louis Lumière, who held it in Paris in 1895. Vilnius film session also showed the Lumière brothers documentary movies. Firstly shown movies were educational and were filmed in exotic locations (e.g. India, Africa) and introduced different cultures to Vilnians, who enjoyed the movies because very few were able to visit such far places. Georges Méliès's movie A Trip to the Moon was first shown in the non-stationary Lukiškės Square movie theater in 1902 and was the first feature film shown in Vilnius.

First stationary movie theater in Vilnius named Iliuzija (English:Illusion) was opened in 1905 and was located in Didžioji Street 60. First movie theaters reminded theatres buildings and had boxes with more expensive tickets. Also, because there was no sound in the first movies, the sessions had a live orchestral or musicians performances. On stage, cinema screening was sometimes mixed with theatrical performances, illusion shows.

On 4 June 1924, Vilnius Magistrate established a popular 1,200-seat movie theater in the city hall, which in Polish was called Miejski kinematograf (English:City Movie Theater). The purpose of this cinema was to provide cultural education for students and adults. The popularity of this cinema is evidenced by the numbers of viewers in 1926: 502 261 tickets were sold, 24 242 tickets were given free to boarding children, 778 to Vilnius guests and 8385 to soldiers. In 1939, the Lithuanian authorities renamed it to Milda. In 1940, the last city government handed over the premises to the People's Commissariat of Education, which established the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society there.

In 1965, the most modern movie theater in Lithuania called Lietuva was opened in Vilnius, which annually had over 1.84 million visitors and profit of over 1 million Soviet rubles. After the reconstruction, it had one of the largest screens in Europe (200 square metres). Though, it was closed in 2002, demolished in 2017 and the MO Museum was built instead of it.

Vilnius Film Festival Kino Pavasaris is the biggest and most important cinema event in Lithuania with international guests and thousands of visitors.

Lithuanian Film Centre (Lithuanian: Lietuvos kino centras), which main task is to promote the development and competitiveness of the Lithuanian film industry, headquarters are in Vilnius.

Music

Libretto of the first opera staged in Vilnius (1636), which overtook the first operas in Paris (1645) and London (1656)

Musicians were presented at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania as early as the 14th century as Grand Duke Gediminas daughter Aldona of Lithuania already was a large sympathizer of music and took court musicians, singers with her to Kraków after marrying King Casimir III the Great. In the 16th century Vilnius for some time in their lives was a hometown of composer Wacław of Szamotuły, lutenist virtuoso Bálint Bakfark, composer Jan Brant. The first textbook of music in Lithuania – The Art and Practice of Music (Latin: Ars et praxis musica) was issued in Vilnius by Žygimantas Liauksminas in 1667.

Italian artists organized the first opera in Lithuania on 4 September 1636 at the Palace of the Grand Dukes by the order of Grand Duke Władysław IV Vasa. Operas are staged at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre and also by independent troupe Vilnius City Opera.

The Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society is the largest and oldest state owned concert organization in Lithuania, whose main activity is to organise and coordinate live concerts, diverse classical/classical contemporary/jazz music events and tours throughout Lithuania and abroad. The Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, founded by Gintaras Rinkevičius, every year builds up a wide-ranging repertoire, introduces exceptional programs, and invites young talent to perform along with recognized soloists.

In Lithuania, choral music is very important. Vilnius is the only city with three choirs laureates (Brevis, Jauna Muzika and Chamber Choir of the Conservatoire) at the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing. There is a long-standing tradition of the Dainų šventė (Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival). Since 1990, the festival has been organised every four years and summons roughly 30,000 singers and folk dancers of various professional levels and age groups from across the country in Vingis Park. In 2008, Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival together with its Latvian and Estonian versions was inscribed as UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Andrius Mamontovas, leader of Foje and founder of the annual Gatvės muzikos diena (Street Music Day)

Jazz scene was active even during the years of Soviet occupation. The real breakthrough would occur in 1970–71 with the coming together of the Ganelin/Tarasov/Chekasin trio, the alleged instigators of the Vilnius Jazz School. Most known annual event of jazz in the city is the Vilnius Jazz Festival.

Gatvės muzikos diena (Street Music Day) gathers musicians of various genres annually in the streets of Vilnius.

Vilnius is the birthplace of many prominent music personalities: singers (e.g. Mariana Korvelytė – Moravskienė, Paulina Rivoli, Danielius Dolskis, Vytautas Kernagis, Algirdas Kaušpėdas, Andrius Mamontovas, Nomeda Kazlaus, Asmik Grigorian), composers (e.g. César Cui, Felix Yaniewicz, Maximilian Steinberg, Vytautas Miškinis, Onutė Narbutaitė), conductors (e.g. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla), musicians (e.g. Antoni Radziwiłł, Jascha Heifetz, Clara Rockmore, Romas Lileikis).

Vilnius was a hometown of such 18th century composers as Michał Kazimierz Ogiński, Johann David Holland (colleague of C. Bach), Maciej Radziwiłł, Michał Kleofas Ogiński. 19th century Vilnius was famous for such European scale performers as singer Kristina Gerhardi Frank – a close friend of Mozart and Haydn (performed the main part at the premiere of The Creation by the latter), guitarist-virtuoso Marek Konrad Sokołowski, recognized as the best guitarist in Europe in the mid-19th century, composer Stanisław Moniuszko – "the father of Polish national opera". The wealthiest woman in the early 19th century Vilnius was singer Maria de Neri. In the early 20th century, Vilnius was a hometown of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis. Musicians of late 20th and early 21st centuries include Vyacheslav Ganelin, Petras Vyšniauskas, Petras Geniušas, Mūza Rubackytė, Alanas Chošnau, Marijonas Mikutavičius.

Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre is headquartered in Gediminas Avenue and also has its department at the Slushko Palace in Antakalnis]. Many accomplished singers have lectured at the Academy, including the internationally famous tenors Kipras Petrauskas and Virgilijus Noreika.

Theatre

Page in Latin of theatre program dedicated to Algirdas (1687), once performed in Vilnius

Lithuanian Grand Dukes' entertainment at the castle, ruler's visits abroad and the honorable guests' arrival meetings etiquette had theatrical elements already since the 14th century (e.g. musicians' chapels of Gediminas and Władysław II Jagiełło). During the period of Sigismund III Vasa's residence in Vilnius (first half of the 17th century), English professional drama actors' troupes played in the royal manor. In 1635, Władysław IV Vasa established a professional opera theatre in the Lower Castle, where dramma per musica genre productions were performed with operas' librettos being written by Italian Virgilio Puccitelli. The performances were characterized by fundamental, luxurious scenography.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries there was a Jesuit's School Theatre in Lithuania. In 1570, the first performance was shown in Vilnius (comedy Hercules by S. Tucci). Baroque aesthetics prevailed in the Jesuit's School Theatre, but it also had Middle Ages retrospectives, Renaissance elements, Rococo motifs, and served an educational function. The performances were played in Latin, however elements of the Lithuanian language were also included in intermediates and prologues, and some of the works were Lithuanian-themed (e.g. plays dedicated to Algirdas, Mindaugas, Vytautas and other rulers of Lithuania).

In 1785, Wojciech Bogusławski established the city's first public theatre Vilnius City Theatre. The theatre was initially located in the Oskierka Palace, but later moved to the Radziwiłł Palace and the Vilnius Town Hall. Until 1845 the plays were performed in Polish, from 1845 in Polish and Russian and from 1864 only in Russian. After the ban on the Lithuanian language was lifted, the plays were also performed in Lithuanian. The theatre ceased to exist in 1914.

During the interwar, then part of Poland, Vilnius was famous for the most modern in the region experimental Reduta troupe and institute, led by Juliusz Osterwa. In Vilnius and the Vilnius Region, the performances by the Vilnius Lithuanian Stage Amateur Company (Lithuanian: Vilniaus lietuvių scenos mėgėjų kuopa), established in 1930 (later it was renamed to Vilnius's Lithuanian Theatre; professional theatre Vaidila), were shown. In 1945, it was merged to the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre.

After the USSR occupation of Lithuania in 1940, theatre became one of the means of disseminating the Soviet ideology and censorship of repertoires was introduced. The performances incorporated the principles of socialist realism and a number of revolutionary plays were staged by the Russian authors. A Repertory Commission was established under the Ministry of Culture to direct theatres, control their repertoires, grant permissions to perform or ban performances. Socialist realism was the only recognized direction.

After the restoration of independence of Lithuania, theatre changed cardinally and sought to recreate a broken dialogue with spectators. Vilnius City Opera, an independent opera theatre in Vilnius, blends classical with contemporary art. While the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, State Small Theatre of Vilnius, State Youth Theatre and a number of private theatre companies, including OKT / Vilnius City Theatre, Anželika Cholina Dance Theatre and others, show classical, modern and Lithuanian playwriting directed by world-known Lithuanian and foreign directors. There also is a Russian language theatre Russian Drama Theatre of Lithuania.

Photography

Coronal mass ejection, captured in 1867 with Vilnius' photoheliograph, which was only the second such device in the entire world

The beginning of Lithuanian photography is considered to be the daguerreotyping of the reconstructed Verkiai Palace, which was performed in the summer of 1839 by François Marcillac, the governor of the children of Duke Ludwig Wittgenstein, this fact is mentioned in the memoirs of architect Bolesław Podczaszyński published in January 1853 in the Gazeta Warszawska newspaper. The unfavorable political situation in the country led to the slow development of new technology and cultural activities. The first known daguerreotype portrait atelier in Vilnius was opened in 1843 by C. Ziegler; such ateliers operated in Lithuania until 1859. One of the most famous photographers was K. Neupert, who came from Norway (since 1851 he worked in Vilnius and Druskininkai).

In the 1860s with the spread of negative and positive collodion technology, glass negatives and albumen paper were used instead of daguerreotype plates, photo portraits of standardized formats became widespread and commercial photography ateliers were established in Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities. The first landscape and architectural photographs were created by Vilnius photographers Abdonas Korzonas and Albert Swieykowski, who compiled the first set of photographs in Lithuania – the Vilnius Album (32 images). In 1862, the Provisional Censorship Regulations were adopted, which determined the activities of photographic institutions; they were supervised by the Central Press Board of the Ministry of the Interior. Photographers ateliers (4 of 9) who participated in the January Uprising and photographed the rebels were closed, their images were annihilated and the authors were punished (e.g. A. Korzonas was deported to Siberia). Other prominent photographers of the 19th century were Stanisław Filibert Fleury (one of the pioneers of stereoscopic photography), Aleksander Władysław Strauss, Józef Czechowicz.

One of the most important facts about the use of photography for scientific purposes is the second photoheliograph in the world (after London) installed in 1865 at the Vilnius University Astronomical Observatory, which was used to observe and photograph the sunspots. Since 1868, for the first time in the world, a systematic photographic service of sunspots dynamics was launched in Vilnius.

In 1927, Jan Bułhak in Vilnius established the first photography club in the present territory of Lithuania.

In 1952, the editorial office of Švyturys magazine organized the first photography exhibition in Vilnius, the main object of which was photography itself (16 photographers participated).

Crafts

The Great Monstrance (made in Vilnius, 1535, ordered by Albertas Goštautas) is one of the largest in Central Europe.
Reverse of Sigismund III Vasa's gold coin of 10 Lithuanian Ducat, struck in the Vilnius Mint in 1616, with the Coat of arms of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and bearing the privy marks of Hieronim Wołłowicz, Grand Treasurer of Lithuania.

Iron tools, weapons, brass, glass and silver jewelry have been produced in the present territory of Lithuania since the 1st century. Later pottery and production of wood products became widespread, and weaving in the 2nd and 4th centuries. During the period of feudalism, home crafts were the most significant in the conditions of subsistence economy. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the separation of crafts from agriculture accelerated; crafts have become an independent branch of the economy. The Grand Dukes of Lithuania promoted the development of crafts in cities. Weaving, shoemaking, fur-making and other crafts predominated. With the introduction of foreign artisans (early 14th century), the development of crafts accelerated even further. The development of crafts and trade stimulated the growth of Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities. In the 14th and 15th centuries, crafts were already highly specialized (especially in the production of tools, household items, fabrics, clothing, weapons, and jewelry) and at the same time workshops were established, which trained and defended the interests of craftsmen. In the 16th century, the production of fine glassware began, goldsmithing was developed, and the level of pottery and weaving crafts rose. The Statutes of Lithuania (1529 and 1588 editions) mention 25 crafts. Prominent European goldsmiths worked in the Vilnius Goldsmiths' Workshop (established in 1495), which controlled the trade of precious metals, gemstones and stood out for its wealth as it serviced the territory up to Daugava and Dnieper Rivers, as well as the Catholic Church in Lithuania, the manor of the Grand Duke, nobility, townspeople. No less important was the Vilnius Mint, which was the main mint of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and minted the Lithuanian denarius, shillings, groschens, thalers, ducats, and other coins from 1387 to 1666.

In the second half of the 17th century, due to the economic turmoil caused by the Russo-Polish War, crafts declined, most of the goods were imported from abroad duty-free by Szlachta Lithuanian and Polish nobles and sold on their holdings. Crafts began to rise again in the second half of the 18th century to the first half of the 19th century and Vilnius was the largest Lithuanian craft center. After the abolition of serfdom, craft schools were established in the Lithuanian cities. The growing industry begun to push crafts from some areas of food processing, textiles and metalworking. However, crafts have long prevailed in clothing manufacturing, goldsmithing, wood, food processing, and other fields. During the years of Soviet occupation, craftsmen worked in artels (until 1960), after their abolition - in household service combines. After the restoration of Lithuania's independence, crafts complemented small and medium-sized businesses.

Language

Main article: Lithuanian language
Privilege to Vilnius Cathedral issued by Vytautas the Great in Vilnius on 16 February 1410 in Latin language

As a historically multicultural capital, many languages statuses changed over the centuries in the history of Vilnius. The predominant language of public life in medieval Lithuania was Lithuanian. It was spoken by people living in the ethnopolitical center of the state – ethnic Lithuania, including the ruler's manor and the most prominent Lithuanian nobility. However, the Lithuanian language had no literary traditions and was not used in writing, except for the most important religious texts (e.g. the Lord's and the Hail Mary prayers). Although, the importance of the spoken Lithuanian language remained for centuries because it is known that even Vytautas the Great himself knew and spoke in the Lithuanian language with Władysław II Jagiełło, whose son Casimir IV Jagiellon also spoke in the Lithuanian language. The word about the Lithuanian language spread wide, as even the Byzantine Greek historian Laonikos Chalkokondyles in the 15th century knew that the Lithuanians had their own distinct language.

The Ruthenian language was used in Lithuania and its capital Vilnius due to the incorporation of the Kievan Rus' lands. In colloquial form, these dialects formed the basis of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian languages in the 19th century. The written form of the Ruthenian language formed from the interaction of the ancient Slavic language with the local elements of the Ruthenian language. Such a Ruthenian language became the main language of the Chancery of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 14th and 15th centuries and maintained its dominant position until the middle of the 17th century.

Latin and Polish were also widely used in the Chancery of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the second part of the 17th century, the Polish language ousted the Ruthenian language from the written sources and the Lithuanian language from most areas of the public life. The first state documents in the Lithuanian language appeared in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania only at the very end of its existence (e.g. Constitution of 3 May 1791 and the Great Sejm Lithuanian manuscripts, Kościuszko Uprising Lithuanian notes).

In 1552, Grand Duke Sigismund II Augustus ordered that orders of the Magistrate of Vilnius be announced in Lithuanian, Polish, and Ruthenian languages.

Minorities (e.g. Lithuanian Jews, Lipka Tatars, Crimean Karaites) were under the guardianship of the Grand Duke of Lithuania, but their languages were only used among themselves and never gained a significant role. The 2nd and 3rd Statutes of Lithuania consolidated Lithuanian Jews status as non-Christian and "common human" (non-noble).

According to the 14th article of the modern Constitution of Lithuania, the Lithuanian language is the only official language in the state. Therefore, all the official procedures in Vilnius must be proceeded in the Lithuanian language, however interpreter assistance is guaranteed by the state in some cases.

Lithuanians speak on average of 2.7 languages, and 97.3% of the population speaks at least one foreign language.

Fashion

Janusz Radziwiłł (left), wearing żupan and kontush belt (these, along with kontusz, were main attributes of the Lithuanian nobles and wealthy Vilnians). Emerencjanna Pociej (right) in 1718, wife of Ludwik Pociej, wearing the Western European style women's clothing, which were popular in Vilnius already since the 18th century.

It is known that the Vilnians have enjoyed to expensively dress up since the Middle Ages. According to historian Antanas Čaplinskas, even the merchants and craftsmen wives were wearing multiple rings decorated with gemstones (e.g. with ruby and fourteen diamonds). Those who did not dress up and did not followed the fashion trends were even ridiculed (e.g. for wearing sheepskins, for not wearing luxurious belts, gloves, or for not using handkerchiefs). Property inventories of 16th–17th centuries often mention expensive clothing, such as long, wide-sleeved jackets of precious materials, known as kontusz, and żupans decorated with lynx's or other animal fur, also kontush belts. Special attention was paid to the buttons as in the list of one nobleman's property Čaplinskas found 12 buttons with pearls and corals, about 100 large buttons with diamonds, plum-shaped buttons decorated with enamel, as well as buttons made from brilliants, emeralds. Delias and dolmans were also popular among the townspeople and nobles.

Wealthy townspeople, decorated with luxurious clothing, raised the envy of the Lithuanian nobility and the nobles demanded the adoption of laws limiting the clothing of the townspeople. For the first time such restrictions were recorded in the Statute of Lithuania of 1588, according to which the townspeople were allowed to wear only two rings (one of them was the seal) while Jews were forbidden to adorn with gold chains and brooches (though, the Jewish women had more rights). Even wider restrictions were put in place by the Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth which adopted the Act of Thrift in 1613, according to which the non-noble townspeople were forbidden to appear in public places dressed in expensive furs (violators of the law were fined and the clothes were given to the complainants). The wealthy townspeople were not satisfied with such limitations, therefore a subscription fee was introduced later which removed all limitations.

The clothing trends changed in the late 18th century when almost all men already had shaved beards, short-haired hairstyles and began to wear trendy, blue, green or black tailcoats with open-fronts and waistcoats matched with white or yellowish trousers, while the 18th century women's clothing fashion had almost no differences from the Western European fashion trends. In the early 20th century the clothes were already in line with the Western European fashion trends, and in 1961 clothing designers studies were launched in the State Art Institute of Lithuania, also in the same year the Vilnius Model House was established which created and popularized unique and industrial apparel and footwear models, made clothing presentations.

Mados infekcija (English:Fashion Infection) was launched in 1999 and is the biggest Lithuanian fashion show, held every spring in Vilnius. Prominent Lithuanian clothing designer Juozas Statkevičius usually organizes his collections presentations in Vilnius.

Holidays and festivals

Kaziuko mugė is held annually in the city in honor of Saint Casimir

As a result of centuries long Catholic traditions in Vilnius and Lithuania, the Catholic holidays (e.g. Christmas, Easter, Saint John's Eve) are widely celebrated and employees have a days off.

Every year on 16 February (day of the Act of Independence of Lithuania) and on 11 March (day of the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania) festive events are organized in Vilnius with official ceremonies conducted by the heads of state and the holy masses of the Lithuanian Catholic Church in the Vilnius Cathedral. While in the evening of 12 January bonfires are ignited to mark the bloody January Events.

Saint Casimir's Fair (Lithuanian: Kaziuko mugė) has been held annually for hundreds of years in the city's markets and streets on the Sunday nearest to 4 March (Feast of St. Casimir), the anniversary of Saint Casimir's death. It attracts tens of thousands of visitors and many Lithuanian and foreign craftsmen. Easter palms (Lithuanian: Verbos) are one of the most recognizable symbols of the fair.

Capital's Days (Lithuanian: Sostinės dienos) is the biggest festival of music and culture held in the city annually for three days (from 30 August to 1 September).

Although it is not a national holiday, the Vilnia River is dyed green every year for Saint Patrick's Day.

During the annual Vilnius Culture Night various artists and cultural organisations hold events and performances all over the city.

City government

Krzysztof Mikołaj "Perkūnas" Radziwiłł (Voivode of Vilnius from 1584 to 1603). Due to his prominent victories versus Ivan the Terrible's troops during the Livonian War, he was nicknamed "the Thunderbolt" (Perkūnas).

Before the Magdeburg rights were granted to Vilnius in 1378, the city was overseen by the ruler's vicegerents. Later these duties were granted to a magistrate or a City Council, subordinate only to the ruler himself. During wars, when the city was in a danger, the city was led by a Voivode of Vilnius. The magisterial authority was headquartered at the Vilnius Town Hall.

Vilnius Town Hall, reconstructed in neoclassical style according to the design by Laurynas Gucevičius in 1799

Vilnius Magistrate was responsible for the city economy, was collecting taxes, taking care of the city treasury, was accumulating stocks of grain in order to avoid residents starvation in case of famine or wars. He also acted as a notary in transactions, testaments and as a judge during the city residents conflicts that involved new buildings constructions and reconstructions. His other function was taking care of the city craftsmen. From the beginning, statutes of workshops were approved by the ruler himself. Later, Sigismund II Augustus granted this privilege to the city magistrates in 1552. Since the 1522 privilege by Sigismund I the Old, Vilnius Magistrates had the responsibility to protect the city and its resident's tranquility by having 24 armed guards. During war times, the night watch was performed by three jurisdictions – magistrate, bishop and castle men.

Chief City Administrator was vaitas (a Grand Duke of Lithuania vicegerent in the city). Most of them were beginning their careers in the magistracy before obtaining such a position. All vaitai were Catholics. Vaitas was chairing during the City Council meetings. His competence also included criminal cases and he had the right to impose a death penalty. At first, he examined the cases alone, however since the 16th century two suolininkai also examined important cases (if the lawsuit was over 10 groschen) together with the vaitas. In the 16th century, Vilnius City Council consisted of 12 burgomasters and 24 councilors (half of them were Catholics, the other half were orthodoxes). There were no direct elections to the City Council and members to the council were chosen by the wealthy townspeople, merchants, workshops seniors. Burgomasters were being chosen until their deaths. In case of death, another member of the council was being chosen of the same religion. In 1536, Sigismund I the Old signed a privilege which regulated the magistracy formation principles that prohibited to choose close relatives to the council and all the new taxes, obligations and regulations required the prior agreement of the townspeople.

Vilnius City Municipality Building in Konstitucijos Avenue, housing the city's municipal council and administration

Under the Russian Empire, the City Council was replaced with a City Duma. The city was the capital of the Lithuania Governorate in 1797–1801, Vilna Governorate-General in 1794–1912, and Vilna Governorate in 1795–1915.

After the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, Vilnius became a republican subordinate city and capital of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The current Vilnius City Municipal Council was established in 1990. The Vilnius City Municipality is one of 60 municipalities of Lithuania and includes the nearby town of Grigiškės, three villages, and some rural areas. The town of Grigiškės was separated from the Trakai District Municipality and attached to the Vilnius City Municipality in 2000.

A 50-member council is elected to four-year terms; the candidates are nominated by registered political parties and committees. As of the 2011 elections, independent candidates also were permitted. The last election was held in March 2019 and the results were: Public Election Committee "R. Šimašius Team "For Vilnius, which we are proud of" (17 seats), A. Zuokas and Vilnius Citizens Coalition "Happy Vilnius" (10 seats), Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (9 seats), the coalition of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and Russians Alliance "Christian Families Alliance" (6 seats), Labour Party (5 seats), Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (3 seats).

Before 2015, mayors were appointed by the council. Starting with the elections in 2015, the mayors are elected directly in a two-round system by voters registered in the municipality. Remigijus Šimašius became the first directly elected mayor of the city.

Subdivisions

Elderships, a statewide administrative division, function as municipal districts. The 21 elderships are based on neighbourhoods:

Map of Vilnius elderships. Numbers on the map correspond with numbers in the list
  1. Verkiai – includes Baltupiai, Jeruzalė, Santariškės, Balsiai, Visoriai
  2. Antakalnis – includes Valakampiai, Turniškės, Dvarčionys
  3. Pašilaičiai – includes Tarandė
  4. Fabijoniškės – includes Bajorai
  5. Pilaitė
  6. Justiniškės
  7. Viršuliškės
  8. Šeškinė
  9. Šnipiškės
  10. Žirmūnai – includes Šiaurės miestelis
  11. Karoliniškės
  12. Žvėrynas
  13. Grigiškės – a separate town
  14. Lazdynai
  15. Vilkpėdė – includes Vingis Park
  16. Naujamiestis – includes bus and train stations
  17. Senamiestis (Old Town) – includes Užupis
  18. Naujoji Vilnia – includes Pavilnys, Pūčkoriai
  19. Paneriai – includes Trakų Vokė, Gariūnai
  20. Naujininkai – includes Kirtimai, Salininkai, Vilnius International Airport
  21. Rasos – includes Belmontas, Markučiai

District municipality

Further information: Vilnius District Municipality
Medininkai Castle, built in the first half of the 14th century. It is the largest enclosure type defensive castle in Lithuania and one of the primary landmarks of the Vilnius district.

Vilnius District Municipality (Lithuanian: Vilniaus rajono savivaldybė) is one of the largest municipalities in Lithuania. It occupies 2129 square kilometres and has 23 civil parishes. There are 1163 villages and 5 towns (Nemenčinė, Bezdonys, Maišiagala, Mickūnai and Šumskas) in the district. Vilnius district surrounds the Lithuania's capital and has developed public, business rural infrastructure and offers high standard of living with clean environment. Vilnius district borders with the Republic of Belarus and neighbours with Švenčionys, Moletai, Širvintos, Elektrėnai, Trakai and Šalčininkai districts.

Vilnius district has a multinational population, of which 52% are Poles, 33% are Lithuanians and the rest of 16% are Russians, Belarusians and other nationalities residents (e.g. Ukrainians, Lipka Tatars, Jews). Vilnius district has over 100,000 residents. Most of the population (95%) live in villages and 5% live in towns.

Vilnius district has the highest terrains of Lithuania – Aukštojas, Juozapinė and Kruopinė Hills, which are raised over 290 metres above sea level and are considered very high in the country's flatlands.

Palm Sunday is widely celebrated in the district and the unique and colorful Vilnius' Easter palms (verbos) are made there from dried flowers and herbs. The tradition of making Vilnius palms is dated to the times of St. Casimir, who is a patron saint of Lithuania and Lithuanian youth.

Medininkai Castle, Liubavas Manor mill and Bareikiškės Manor are the most famous historical landmarks of the district.

Vilnius Voivodeship from 1769 surrounded a completely independent microstate Republic of Paulava, known for its Age of Enlightenment values, with its own president, peasants parliament, army and laws.

As a result of its large Polish population, Vilnius District Municipality Council mostly consists from members of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania. Lithuanian Pole Marija Rekst is a long-term mayor of the district.

National government

Seimas Palace in Vilnius, where the parliamentarians of Lithuania convenes

As the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius is the seat of Lithuania's national government. For the executive, the two chief officers of Lithuania have their offices in Vilnius. The President of the Republic of Lithuania resides at the Presidential Palace in Daukanto Square, while the Prime Minister's seat is at the Government of Lithuania office in Gediminas Avenue. According to the Law of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, the President of the Republic has a residence in Vilnius that is located in Turniškės district near Neris river. Prime Minister also has a right to a residence in Turniškės district during term in office. Government ministries are located in various parts of the city; many are located in Vilnius Old Town.

Historically, the Seimas of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania mostly gathered in Vilnius. The present-day Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania is also located in Vilnius and meets at the Seimas Palace in Gediminas Avenue.

Lithuania's highest courts are located in Vilnius. The Supreme Court of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Aukščiausiasis Teismas), the highest court in the judicial order, which reviews criminal and civil cases, is located in the Gynėjų Street, while the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos vyriausiasis administracinis teismas), which acts as the highest court in the administrative order, judging litigation against public bodies, is located in the Žygimantų Street. The Constitutional Court of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucinis Teismas), an advisory body with ultimate authority on the constitutionality of laws meets in the Constitutional Court's Palace in Gediminas Avenue.

The Lithuanian Tribunal, the highest appeal court for the nobility of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, was established by Stephen Báthory, Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland, in 1581. It was located in Vilnius until the Third Partition of Poland in 1795.

Special services

Lithuanian Police officer, patrolling with a Segway.
Emergency Response Center in Antakalnis, which deals with the emergency calls in Vilnius.

The security of Vilnius is mainly the responsibility of the Vilniaus apskrities vyriausiasis policijos komisariatas, the highest police office in the city, and local police offices. Its main responsibilities are ensuring public order and public safety, disclosure and investigation of criminal offenses and traffic safety supervision. In 2016, there were 1500 police officers in Vilnius. Public Security Service is responsible for the prompt restoration of public order in extreme and special situations and ensure proper protection of important state objects and escorted subjects.

Vilniaus apskrities priešgaisrinė gelbėjimo valdyba is the primary governing body of the Vilnius's firefighters forces. In the first 9 months of 2018, there were 1287 fire incidents in the city of Vilnius, during which 6 people died and 16 were traumatized.

Vilniaus greitosios medicinos pagalbos stotis is responsible for emergency medical services in the city and can be contacted directly by calling a short number 033. It is one of the oldest emergency medical services institution in Eastern Europe and was established already in 1902. Large part of this institution doctors and other personnel were awarded with medals for their assistance to victims during the January Events in 1991.

Major number for contacting all the special services in Vilnius (and other regions of Lithuania) is 112.

Panorama of the Vilnius Old Town as seen from the Gediminas' Tower at dusk. Vilnius has one of the largest and best preserved old town in Northern, Eastern, and Central Europe. Its skyline is dominated by towers of the ancient churches, dating to the times when Vilnius was capital of the Europe's largest state – Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Urbanism and architecture

Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is a Baroque architecture masterpiece. It was funded by Michał Kazimierz Pac, commemorating a victory over the Muscovites and their expulsion from Vilnius after six years of occupation.

The Old Town of Vilnius is the historical centre of Vilnius, about 3.6 km2 (1.4 sq mi) in size. Its history begins from the Neolithic period. During it, the glacial hills were intermittently occupied and a wooden castle, at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers, was built around 1000 AD to fortify Gedimino Hill. The settlement developed into a town in the 13th century, when the pagan Baltic people were invaded by the Westerners during the Lithuanian Crusade. Around 1323, when the first written sources about Vilnia occurred, it was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which was formed from various cultures and nationalities residents. At this time, it only had some brick structures. By the 15th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania had become one of the most powerful and the largest country in Europe with its territory stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea (mostly, present-day Belarus, Ukraine and Russia lands). The historic centre consists of three castles territories (Upper, Lower and Curved) and the area that was previously encircled by a Wall of Vilnius. Its plan is mostly circular with its center in the original castle site. The streets pattern is [medieval and has small, narrow streets, however large squares were also developed in later periods. Pilies Street, the main artery, links the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania with Vilnius Town Hall. Other streets meander through the palaces of feudal lords and landlords, churches, shops and craftsmen's workrooms.

The historic buildings are in Gothic (e.g. Church of St. Anne), Renaissance (e.g. Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania), Baroque (e.g. Church of St. Peter and St. Paul with over 2,000 stucco figures interior, Vilnius University's main campus, which features 13 courtyards framed by 15th century buildings and splashed with 300-year-old frescoes, and the Church of St. Johns) and Classical styles (e.g. Vilnius Cathedral, Vilnius Town Hall, Šuazeliai Palace, Verkiai Palace) with splendid exteriors and interiors. The variety of preserved churches and former palaces of the Lithuanian nobility especially constitutes the Vilnius multicultural heritage.

As a capital of the massive state, Lithuanians shaped the development of its outstanding capital together with other nations. Vilnius development was influenced by the West and East ideologies. Christianity has dominated in Lithuania since the Christianization of Lithuania in 1387, however Orthodoxy of the state's eastern residents and the growing importance of Judaism led to exemplary material manifestations of these religious communities (e.g. Orthodox Cathedral of the Theotokos, Great Synagogue of Vilna).

The 17th century Chapel of Saint Casimir, a patron saint of Lithuania and its youth, in the Cathedral of Vilnius

Various disasters resulted in reconstructions of the Vilnius buildings in the School of Vilnius Baroque style, which later left an imprint in the whole Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Talented artists (e.g. Matteo Castelli, Pietro Perti) from the present-day Canton of Ticino were particularly preferred by the Grand Duke of Lithuania and local nobility, and developed many famous objects in the city (e.g. Chapel of Saint Casimir). Lithuanian Laurynas Gucevičius left a huge mark in the Classical style architecture of Vilnius.

Vilnius Old Town was inscribed to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1994. The inscribed property has an extension of 352 ha. Vilnius Historic Centre is particularly noted for maintaining the medieval streets pattern without any significant gaps. However, some places were damaged during Lithuania's occupations and wars, including the Cathedral Square that covers the foundations of the Royal Palace – demolished after the 3rd partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, a square in the east from the Church of All Saints where the Convent of the Barefoot Carmelites previously stood alongside a Vice-Chancellor Stefan Pac's established Baroque Church of St. Joseph the Betrothed, both demolished by the tsar's order. Great Synagogue and part of the buildings in the Vokiečių Street (German: Deutsche Gasse) were demolished after World War II.

Vilnius occupies an area of 401 square kilometers, of which only one fifth is developed and the remainder is green belt and water. For this reason, Vilnius is often referred to as one of the 'greenest' capital cities in Europe.

Crypts

The crypts of Vilnius Cathedral are a place where prominent figures of Lithuania and the Catholic Church are buried. At the Royal Mausoleum Grand Duke Alexander Jagiellon, Queen Elizabeth of Austria, Barbara Radziwiłł, heart of the Grand Duke Władysław IV Vasa are buried. These crypts also have one of the oldest frescos in Lithuania, painted in the late 14th or early 15th century, and dating to the times of the Christianization of Lithuania.

Housing

Vilnius Old Town apartments offers views to the most notable landmarks of the city and a medieval atmosphere

Vilnius Old Town (Lithuanian: Vilniaus senamiestis) with medieval stone paved streets and Užupis offers one of the most prestigious housing in Vilnius. Many old town apartment buildings there offers direct views to the iconic churches or the biggest landmarks of the city (e.g. especially desired Gediminas Tower), enclosed inner courtyards, high ceilings, attics, non-standard layouts and luxurious historic interiors. Most expensive flats in these neighbourhoods may cost millions of euros and are accessible only to the wealthiest residents of the city. However, such problems as traffic jams, expensive car parking spaces, air pollution, high costs of maintenance, limitations for reconstructions repels rich Vilnians from living in these neighbourhoods, who often buy or build private houses in more distant parts of Vilnius (Balsiai, Bajorai, Pavilnys, Kalnėnai, Pilaitė and others) or nearby areas of the Vilnius District Municipality. About 21,000 residents live in the old town and 7,000 in Užupis.

Part of Valakampiai neighborhood in Antakalnis eldership by the Neris River as seen from Verkiai Palace
Helios City complex in Naujamiestis with shopping mall and apartments

Valakampiai and Turniškės are the city's most prestigious places with private houses quarters as plots there are sufficiently large, surrounded with the greenery, pines forests and are easily accessible from the city centre. Generally, exceptionally wealthy residents and heads of the state (e.g. presidents) live there and most of the larger private houses costs millions of euros. Part of the Žvėrynas neighbourhood also offers luxurious private houses with plots close to the Vingis Park, but it also has the Soviet-era apartment buildings, poor condition wooden houses, higher number of residents (~12,200).

Neighbourhoods around the old town (Antakalnis, Žirmūnai, Naujamiestis, Žvėrynas) offer a wide variety prices flats, decent amount of greenery suitable for walks, bicycle roads and therefore are the most popular among the middle class residents. Wealthier communities are living in a new construction apartments or renovated Soviet-era apartments. The Government of Lithuania strongly supports the renovation process and compensates 30% or more of the cost. However, poorer inhabitants and low income pensioners are often stopping the process adding to overall regionalistic policies of the politicians.

More distant neighbourhoods (e.g. Lazdynai, Karoliniškės, Viršuliškės, Šeškinė, Justiniškės, Pašilaičiai, Fabijoniškės, Naujininkai) are offering significantly cheaper flats. Their biggest disadvantages together with a more difficult communication with the city centre are mostly not renovated Soviet-era high-rise buildings, worn out surroundings, large traffic jams on the streets connecting with the city centre during the rush hours and a constant lack of car parking spaces near older apartments.

Šnipiškės eldership has received a significant amount of investment during the 2010s. The area was first mentioned in the Vilnius's historical documents in 1536 when the Grand Duke Sigismund I the Old ordered Ulrich Hosius to build a wooden bridge over the Neris river. Soon around the bridge, a suburb began to develop. In the 16th a palace dedicated to the Muscovites and Tatars messengers was built by the magistrate of Vilnius to the north of Šnipiškės, as during their visits, they acted noisily and the townspeople did not want them around. In the 18th century, a Jesuit's Church of St. Raphael the Archangel and monastery as well as solid palaces of the rich and multi-story brick houses of ordinary townspeople were built in Šnipiškės. On the other hand, the outskirts of this suburb were inhabited by the craftsmen: the glass-makers, brick-makers, pottery-makers. Smoking pipe factory, sawmills and even a tiny candy factory emerged. A small part of the territory (8 ha) of Šnipiškės west of the Kalvarijų market, called Skansenas, occupied mostly by poor condition wooden houses, emerged in the late 19th century. Surprisingly, it survived to this day and is now still underdeveloped territory, protected by the state. Next to it, then-luxurious quarter of bankers – Piromontas was built in the 1890s, is architectural heritage too.

Šnipiškės in the 19th century with the Chapel of Jesus of Šnipiškės

During the 1960s, the Šnipiškės area was named the new city center: the first city pedestrian zone organized and before the 1990 a number of buildings, including the largest shopping center in what was then Lithuanian SSR, the highest and the largest hotel, planetarium, museum of Revolution, Pioneer's Palace as well as number of ministries of the Lithuanian SSR were built. However, the broader territory of Šnipiškės, stretching to the north of what is now Konstitucijos Avenue, remained mainly underdeveloped until the early 2000s when the new Vilnius city municipality building was built in the area, that inspired transformation of the surroundings: the new Europa square formed with a new shopping center "Europa", 33-story "Europa" business tower and 27-story "Europa" apartment building. Former Museum of Revolution was reconstructed to the National Art Gallery in the late 2000s. Since then skyscrapers and expensive commercial offices are being built constantly in the area. It already has almost 0.5 million square meters of real estate. A Japanese garden will be completed in the area till 2020.

In 2019, average price for 1 m2 (11 sq ft) of flat was around 2,000 euros and around 1,200 euros for 1 m2 (11 sq ft) of a private house in Vilnius, while the rent prices were ~10 €/m2 (for flats) and ~8 €/m2 (for private houses) respectively. According to the economists, number of transactions and housing affordability index has reached record highs in 2019 because of the significant rise in Vilnius residents incomes and slowing of the flats prices rising. Despite that, according to a research one fourth of the 26–35 years old inhabitants are still living in their parents or relatives owned homes, which is the highest number in the Baltic states, however it is likely that large part of these young people are simply saving for their own homes or the initial contribution because statistics traditionally shows that Lithuanians purchases their homes with less borrowed funds than Latvians or Estonians.

Grand Duke Sigismund II Augustus (a direct offspring of Gediminas by the male-line) and Grand Duchess Barbara Radziwiłł in Vilnius. The city prospered during his reign and the Golden Age.

Vilnius has thousands of years of demographics history as in the eldership of Vilkpėdė the remains of the Magdalenian culture settlement were found, which are dated to around 10,000 years BC. In the first 1,000 years AD there were large settlements in Kairėnai, Pūčkoriai and Naujoji Vilnia. The most densely populated area was the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia Rivers, which also had fortified homesteads. Later Vilnius was part of the Kingdom of Lithuania territory, however King Mindaugas did not constantly reside in it, despite building the first Catholic Church in Lithuania there on the occasion of his coronation. The city began to develop in the late 13th century, during the reign of Grand Dukes Butvydas and Vytenis.

Major growth of Vilnius as the centre and capital of the medieval state is attributed to the 14th century reign of Grand Duke Gediminas who invited knights, merchants, doctors, craftspeople and others to come to the Grand Duchy to practice their trades and faith without restriction. Although, the growth of Vilnius was limited at the time due to the brutal Teutonic Order attacks (e.g. during their assault in 1390 around 14,000 Vilnians were killed) and the Lithuanian Civil War of 1389–1392.

Vilnius developed as a multicultural city. In the 14th century sources it is mentioned that Vilnius consists of the Great (Lithuanian) city and Ruthenians city. Until the 16th century the city was mostly inhabited by Lithuanians and Ruthenians, however the German merchants, artisans, Jews (since the 14th century; later had their qahal till 1845) and the Tartars (since 1397) also settled down in Vilnius. In the 16th–17th centuries, during Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the Polonophone population began to grow – by the middle of the 17th century most writings were in Polish due to the Polonisation (before the 16th century the number was only around 5%).

The city prospered during the Golden Age by being one of the main cities of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the residence of the Lithuanian nobility. However, the city was severely devastated by fire in 1610. After the Battle of Vilnius in 1655 the city came under Russian control (1655–1661). Next, after the Great Northern War, the Swedish Empire controlled the city from 1702 to 1709. This occupation ended during the Great Northern War plague outbreak in 1709. It took the city more than 50 years to recover.

Manifesto of the Uprising of 1794 in Lithuanian, encouraging Lithuanians to defend Vilnius from falling under the Russian control. The Grand Duchy's capital was nearly empty when the uprising failed and in 1795 the state was abolished after the Third Partition.

According to the first population census of the Commonwealth in 1790, the Vilnius Voivodeship (without the Grodno County) had a population of 718,571 residents, while the Vilnius County had 105,896 residents (the whole Grand Duchy after the Second Partition had a population of 1,333,493 then). Shortly after, the city population decreased to just 17,500 residents in 1796 due to the fierce battles of the Vilnius uprising in 1794, which was the last attempt to save the Grand Duchy's capital from falling under the complete Russian control. Though, after the rebels defeat, Vilnius was incorporated into the Russian Empire and was its third largest city in the beginning of the 19th century. After a few decades of the Russian despotism, Vilnius demographics were once again affected by the November Uprising in 1830 and the January Uprising in 1863, during which rebels attempts were made to restore the statehood. According to the Russian Empire Census of 1897, Vilnius had 154,532 residents and later grown to 205,300 residents in 1909, while the Vilna Governorate had 1,561,713 residents in 1897.

During World War I thousands of Vilnians were forced to flee, were killed or were taken to the forced labor camps; consequently the city had only 128,500 residents in 1919 (in total, the present-day Lithuania territory lost around 1 million residents). Vilnius recovered during the interwar period and had 209,442 residents in 1939, but due to World War II the number fell to 110,000 in 1944.

Vilnius again grew in population by being the capital of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (according to the 1989 census, it had 576,747 residents). Despite the fact that almost whole Lithuania suffered from a large emigration after the restoration of independence in 1990, the number of residents in Vilnius remained almost unchanged (542,287 in 2001) and began to steadily grow every year since 2006 to 580,020 residents (as of 1 January 2020).

Historic ethnic makeup

Historic ethnic makeup of Vilnius
Year Lithuanians Poles Russians Jews Others Total
1897 3,131 2% 47,795 30% 30,967 20% 61,847 40% 10,792 7% 154,532
1931 1,579 0.8% 128,600 65.5% 7,400 3.8% 54,600 27.8% 4,166 2.1% 196,345
1959 79,400 34% 47,200 20% 69,400 29% 16,400 7% 23,700 10% 236,100
2001 318,510 57.5% 104,446 18.9% 77,698 14.1% 2,770 0.5% 50,480 9.1% 553,904
2011 337,000 63.2% 88,380 16.5% 64,275 12% N/A 45,976 8.6% 535,631
Pagan Lithuanians worshipping a grass snake, oak and holy fire. From Olaus Magnus' Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (History of the Northern People), book 3, 1555.
Model of the Vilnius Castle Complex in the first half of the 17th century. The Upper Castle, which early wooden variants dates to the 10th century, was partly destroyed during the Battle of Vilnius (1655) and was never rebuilt.

Around 1000 years AD, the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers was densely populated by the Striped Ceramics culture, which had a half a hectare fortified settlement on the Gediminas' Hill. This culture tribes were common throughout present-day Lithuania, east of the Šventoji River and in the western part of Belarus. The direct descendants of this culture are believed to be a Baltic tribe – the Aukštaitians (English:Highlanders). According to a prominent researcher of Vilnius history Antanas Čaplinskas, who researched the surnames of Vilnius residents in the archive documents of the city, the oldest surviving surnames of Vilnius residents are Lithuanian. Pagan Lithuanians mostly lived at the northern foot of Gediminas' Hill and in the Crooked Castle.

Later, following the invitation of Grand Duke Gediminas, merchants and craftsmen began to move to Vilnius from the cities of the German Hanseatic League, France, Italy and Spain, and replaced the Lithuanian surnames with German, Polish, and Russian surnames. In the late 14th century, during the reign of Grand Duke Algirdas, Vilnius already had a Ruthenian quarter (Latin: Civitas Ruthenica) in the present-day Latako and Rusų Streets, as the trade relations between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Ruthenian principalities were quite well developed, therefore quite a few Ruthenian merchants lived there and the Ruthenian nobles had their residences in the quarter. The variety of nations in Vilnius was further increased by Grand Duke Vytautas the Great, who introduced Litvak Jews, Tatars and Crimean Karaites. After a few hundred years, the number of locals in Vilnius was smaller than the number of newcomers. However, according to an analysis of the tax registers of 1572, Lithuania proper had 850,000 residents, of which 680,000 (80%) were ethnically Lithuanians.

Beginning during the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Polish culture began to penetrate the city rapidly and soon the Polish language prevailed in the city, even the Magistrate's documents were written in Polish until the November Uprising in 1831. After living for a while in Vilnius, foreign merchants and artisans quickly assimilated and were Polonized. The majority of the Lithuanian nobles spoke the Polish language, however they never considered themselves Poles and the Union of Lublin was only signed during the second attempt in 1569, with the agreement that both states will be sovereign entities within the Commonwealth and the forbidment for the Poles from the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland to buy land in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Their opinion did not change within the union and was confirmed again in the Reciprocal Guarantee of Two Nations in 1791.

Multicultural Vilnians in 1915. The city was famous for its tolerance of various ethnicities till World War I.

Over the centuries, the composition of the population of Vilnius changed to become ethnically less Lithuanian. According to historian Vytautas Merkys, the city lost a great deal of its old population during the brutal rampages of the Swedish and Russian armies in the 17th and 18th centuries, and they were replaced by the newcomers, however the Lithuanians also constantly inhabited in Vilnius. According to the Russian Empire Census of 1897, only 2.1% (3200 residents) identified themselves as Lithuanian-speakers, while the Poles (30.8%; 47,600 residents) and the Jews (40.0%; 61,800 residents) were the largest ethnic groups of the city. According to the Parish censuses of 1857–1858, the Lithuanian population remained significant in the Vilna Governorate and, according to different authors, was between 23.6% and 50.0% (210,273–418,880 residents). Among the Szlachta (nobility) in Vilnius during the census of 1897, there were 5,301 (46.3%) local nobles and 6,403 (54.7%) newcomers, of these 24.1% noble newcomers came from Vilna Governorate territories, while the rest of newcomers nobles came to Vilnius from Grodno Governorate, Minsk Governorate, Vitebsk Governorate, Kovno Governorate, Vistula Land and other regions.

Ethnic Lithuanian numbers in the city of Vilnius reached record lows in 1931 (1600 residents – 0.8%, while Poles accounted for 65.9% – 128,600 residents) following the 1922 annexation of Vilnius Region by Poland and the Lithuanians retreat from the region to the temporary capital of Kaunas. Following the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty in 1939, Lithuania recovered the Vilnius Region and made efforts to Lithuanize Vilnius by the introduction of Lithuanian laws. Prime Minister Antanas Merkys once said that it was intended "to make everybody think like Lithuanians. First of all, it was and still is necessary to comb out the foreign element from the Vilnius Region". The Lithuanian Government put into force a law according to which "who on 12 July 1920 (...) were regarded as Lithuanian nationals, and on 27 October 1939 were resident in the territory became Lithuanian nationals" (this definition of citizenship was used to dismiss a large number of Polish civil servants and ~150,000 Poles were later repatriated from the Lithuanian SSR). Almost the whole Jewish population was exterminated during the Holocaust in Lithuania. After World War II, the number of ethnic Lithuanians in the city started recovering (e.g. there already were 79,363 Lithuanians in 1959, who accounted for 33.6% of all residents in the city), however the Lithuanization ideas were mostly replaced with the Sovietization of the population after the rigged election to the People's Seimas in 1940. Following the restoration of independence in 1990, the ethnic Lithuanian population in the city continued to grow and according to the 2011 census of Lithuania already reached 63.2% (337,000 residents).

Vilnius modern skyline at dusk with the new city centre (Šnipiškės) in the middle, in which the main banks, financial services and businesses headquarters are located.
Europa Tower is the tallest building in the Baltic states and is one of the symbols of modern Vilnius and its economic growth

Vilnius is the major economic centre of Lithuania. The GDP per capita (nominal) in Vilnius county was 25,400 (~US$30,000) in 2019, making it the wealthiest region in Lithuania and the second-wealthiest region in the Baltic states.

The budget of Vilnius reached €740 million in 2021. As of beginning of 2021 the average gross salary in Vilnius city municipality reached €1,797 per month or around €22,000 annual.

Since 2010, employment and unemployment indicators have continuously been improving in Lithuania. Employment reached a record high of 77.5% in the third quarter of 2018 while unemployment was 6.3% in the fourth quarter, a rate last observed in 2008. Nevertheless, this has to be seen in the context of a shrinking working age population. The activity rate reached 82% in 2017. Vilnius and Kaunas counties offer better labour market opportunities than other counties, and this drives the internal interregional migration. However, in other regions employment opportunities remain scarce. Unemployment rates remained persistently high in the least developed regions (14.9% in Utena County as compared to 4.8% in Vilnius County). Other key labour market indicators have improved, returning to pre-crisis levels. Long-term unemployment fell to 2.1% in the third quarter of 2018 (EU average: 2.9%). Youth unemployment (13.3%) and the rate of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET, at 9.1%) were below the EU average in 2017.

K29 business centre is the first office in the Baltic states which received excellent BREEAM rating

Overall, the share of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE) has decreased since Lithuania joined the EU in 2004. However, it remains among the highest in the EU (29.6% in 2017, compared to 22.4% in the EU). The risk of poverty or social exclusion in rural areas is nearly double that of urban areas, which corresponds to the gap in the unemployment rate between cities and rural areas (4.5% versus 11% in 2017). In particular the metropolitan areas of Vilnius and Kaunas, where significant economic activity is centred, drive a significant gap between AROPE rates in urban and rural areas. In 2017, the AROPE rate in rural areas was 37.2%, compared to 19.9% in cities.

Over the past 15 years, Lithuania has experienced the fastest convergence in the EU, but the benefits of economic growth are uneven across regions. Disparities among Lithuania's regions have steadily grown in this period. While GDP per capita reached nearly 110% of the EU average in the capital region of Vilnius, it is only between 42% and 77% in other regions. The country's rapid convergence is mainly fuelled by two regions – the capital region of Vilnius and Kaunas County – producing 42% and 20% of the national GDP, respectively. In 2014–2016 these regions grew on average by 4.6% (Vilnius) and 3.3% (Kaunas), while the other regions, which have a higher share of rural areas, stagnated or were in recession.

The supply of new housing in Vilnius and its suburbs, the country's biggest real estate market, has reached post-crisis highs and the stock of unsold apartments in the three largest cities has started to increase since the beginning of 2017. The demand for housing is still strong, fuelled by rapidly rising wages, benign financial conditions and positive expectations. In the first half of 2018, the number of monthly transactions was the highest since the 2007–2008 peak. Most foreign direct investment and productive public investment in Lithuania is concentrated around the two main economic development poles of Vilnius and Kaunas.

Vilnius Industrial Park is located 18.5 kilometres from the city and its land is intended for commercial, industrial use.

Science and research

Vilnius University Astronomical Observatory, est. in 1753, is one of the oldest in Europe and was the first in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

In 1675, Tito Livio Burattini lived in Vilnius and published a book Misura universale in which he suggested to use term metre for a unit of length for the first time. In 1753, on the initiative of Thomas Zebrowski the Vilnius University Astronomical Observatory was established, which was among the first observatories in Europe and the first in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Marcin Odlanicki Poczobutt led the reconstruction of the observatory in 1770–72 (according to Marcin Knackfus project) and made sure it was equipped with the latest astronomical instruments, from 1773 he began constant astronomical observations, which were recorded in the observation journals (French: Cahiers des observations), and created a constellation Taurus Poniatovii. In 1781, Jean-Emmanuel Gilibert established the Botanical Garden of Vilnius University with over 2000 plants, he also provided the first herbariums, collections of stuffed animals and birds, fossil plants, animal remains, and a collection of minerals to the Vilnius University. After the Third Partition of the Commonwealth, the observatory published the first exact sciences journal in the Russian Empire called the Journal of Mathematical Sciences (Russian:Вестник математических наук).

Scientific centres and universities faculties in the Sunrise Valley

Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park (Lithuanian: Saulėtekio slėnio mokslo ir technologijų parkas) is a non-profit organization, founded in 2003. The park is the centre of entrepreneurship, promotion of business and science collaboration, provision of infrastructure and other innovation support. Over 20,000 students study in the Vilnius University and Vilnius Gediminas Technical University facilities in the Sunrise Valley and 5,000 scientists performs their research in the corresponding science centres there.

Centre for Physical Sciences and Technology (Lithuanian: Fizinių ir technologijos mokslų centras) or FTMC is the largest scientific research institution in Lithuania, which specialises in laser technologies, optoelectronics, nuclear physics, organic chemistry, bio and nano technologies, electrochemical material science, electronics, and other scientific fields. The centre was created in 2010 by merging institutes of Chemistry, Physics, Semiconductor Physics in Vilnius and Textile institute in Kaunas. The centre features 250 laboratories (24 open to the public) and can accommodate more than 700 researchers and students. Furthermore, the centre also offers PhD Studies and annually helds FizTech conferences of PhD students and young researchers. FTMC is the founder and sole shareholder of the Science and Technology Park of Institute of Physics in Savanorių Avenue, which provides assistance to companies operating in research and development field.

Laser Research Centre of Vilnius University (Lithuanian: Vilniaus universiteto Lazerinių tyrimų centras) is an open access centre, mostly used by the Department of Quantum Electronics, which prepares highly qualified physicists, laser physicists and laser technology specialists. The department carries out world-class research in laser physics, nonlinear optics, optical component characterization, biophotonics and laser microtechnology. Lithuania is one of the world's leaders in producing laser technologies and has over 50% of the world's market share in ultrashort pulses lasers, which are produced by the Vilnius-based companies. In 2019, they developed one of the world's most powerful laser system in the world SYLOS for the Extreme Light Infrastructure laboratory in Szeged, which produces high-intensity ultra-short pulses with a peak power of up to a thousand times that of the most powerful nuclear power plant in the United States. Also, Corning Inc. has bought the licence for the state-of-the-art glass cutting solutions from the Vilnius-based laser company Altechna and uses it for manufacturing billions of Gorilla Glasses.

Virginijus Šikšnys is a prominent biochemist of the Vilnius University

Vilnius University Life Sciences Centre (Lithuanian: Vilniaus universiteto Gyvybės mokslų centras) is a scientific research centre, which consists of three institutes: Institute of Biochemistry, Institute of Biosciences and Institute of Biotechnology. The centre was opened in 2016 and has 900 students, ~120 PhD students and 250 scientific-pedagogical staff that are able to use open access scientific laboratories equipped with the most advanced equipment there. Next to the main building there is a Technology Business Incubator for small and medium businesses in life sciences or related fields.

Vilnius Gediminas Technical University has three research centres in the Sunrise Valley: Civil Engineering Research Centre, Technology Centre for Building Information and Digital Modelling, Competence Centre of Intermodal Transport and Logistics.

The Lithuanian Social Research Centre (Lithuanian: Lietuvos socialinių tyrimų centras) in A. Goštauto St. 9 analyzes the socio-economic, political and demographic processes and helps clients in public and private sectors. The Centre closely cooperates with the Government of Lithuania.

Santara Valley (Lithuanian: Santaros slėnis) is a second science and research valley in Vilnius, which focuses on the medicine, biopharmaceutical and bioinformatics areas. Vilnius University Faculty of Medicine Science Centre, costing €37.1 million, will be completed in the valley in 2021.

Jonas Kubilius, long-term rector of the Vilnius University is known for works in Probabilistic number theory, Kubilius model, Theorem of Kubilius and Turán–Kubilius inequality bear his name. Jonas Kubilius successfully resisted attempts to Russify the Vilnius University. Vilnian Marija Gimbutas was the first to formulate the Kurgan hypothesis. In 1963, Vytautas Straižys and his coworkers created Vilnius photometric system that is used in astronomy. Kavli Prize laureate Virginijus Šikšnys is known for his discoveries in CRISPR field – invention of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.

Information technology

The Green Hall business centre complex in Žvėrynas, which houses IT companies and the Europe's first international Blockchain Centre

Lithuania and its capital Vilnius is an attractive place for foreign companies to open their offices. This is due to several main reasons – highly qualified employees and good infrastructure. Several high schools are preparing skilled specialists in Vilnius, most notably the Vilnius University Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics and Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Faculty of Fundamental Sciences. Sphere of the information technology is an attractive profession among the qualified professionals due to the high salaries in Vilnius (e.g. Lithuanian branch of Google, established in Vilnius, offers ~€17,800 monthly salary, which is one of the highest in Lithuania). In 2018, the annual output of the information technology sector in Lithuania was €2.296 billion, of which a large amount was created in Vilnius.

Vilnius Tech Park in Sapieha Park is the biggest information technology startup hub in the Baltic and Nordic countries and unites international startups, technology companies, accelerators, incubators. In 2019, the fDi Intelligence (an investment experts subdivision of the Financial Times) ranked Vilnius as number one city in the Tech Start-up FDI Attraction Index.

In 2011, Vilnius had the fastest internet speed in the world and despite the fall in the rankings in recent years – it still remained as one of the fastest around the globe. Vilnius Airport also has one of the fastest wireless public internet (Wi-Fi) among the European airports.

The National Cyber Security Centre of Lithuania was established in Vilnius due increasing internet attacks against the Lithuanian Government organizations.

Bebras is an international informatics and information technology contest, which is held annually for pupils of 3–12 grades since 2004. Since 2017, computer programming is taught in the primary schools.

Lithuania and especially its capital Vilnius is a popular fintech companies hub due to the state's flexible regulations in the e-money licences field. In 2018, Bank of Lithuania granted an electronic money licence to the Google Payment Lithuania company, based in Vilnius. Since 2018, prominent e-money startup Revolut also has an e-money licence and headquarters in Vilnius, furthermore in 2019 it began to move its clients to the Lithuanian company Revolut Payments. On 23 January 2019, the Europe's first international Blockchain Centre was opened in Vilnius.

Finance and banking

Vilnius is Lithuania's financial centre. The Ministry of Finance is located in Vilnius and is responsible for the development and enforcement of an efficient public financial policy with a view to ensuring the macroeconomic stability of the state and its economic growth. The Bank of Lithuania is also headquartered in Vilnius and fosters a reliable financial system and ensures sustainable economic growth. Nasdaq Vilnius Stock Exchange, a leading stock exchange in Lithuania, is located in K29 business centre in Konstitucijos Avenue.

The National Audit Office of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublikos valstybės kontrolė) is located in V. Kudirka Street and helps the state to manage public funds and property wisely. While the State Tax Inspectorate (Lithuanian: Valstybinė mokesčių inspekcija) is headquartered in Vasario 16-osios Street and is responsible for collecting or refunding taxes in the country.

At the time, 7 banks in Lithuania are holding a bank or a specialised bank licence, while 9 banks are carrying out their activities as foreign bank branches. The two largest banks registered in Lithuania (AB SEB bankas, Swedbank, AB,) are supervised directly by the European Central Bank jointly with Bank of Lithuania experts.

The majority of the Lithuanian financial system consists of capital banks of the Nordic countries.

Tertiary education

The Grand Courtyard of Vilnius University and Church of St. Johns

On 14 October 1773, the Commission of National Education (Lithuanian: Edukacinė komisija) was created by the Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Grand Duke Stanisław August Poniatowski, which supervised the Vilnius University, schools and was responsible for other educational matters in the Commonwealth. Because of its vast authority and autonomy, it is considered as the first Ministry of Education in European history and an important achievement of the Enlightenment in the Commonwealth.

The city has many universities. The largest and oldest is Vilnius University with 19,768 students. Its main premises are in the Old Town. The university has been ranked among the top 500 universities in the world by QS World University Rankings. The university is participating in projects with UNESCO and NATO, among others. It features Masters programs in English and Russian, as well as programs delivered in cooperation with universities all over Europe. The university is divided into 14 faculties.

Other major universities include Mykolas Romeris University (7,500 students), Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (9,600 students), and Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences (merged into Vytautas Magnus University in 2018). Specialized higher schools with university status include the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and the Vilnius Academy of Arts. The museum associated with the Vilnius Academy of Arts holds about 12,000 artworks.

There are also a few private universities such as ISM University of Management and Economics, European Humanities University, and Kazimieras Simonavičius University.

Several colleges are also in Vilnius including Vilnius College, Vilnius College of Technologies and Design, International School of Law and Business, and others.

Primary and secondary education

National M. K. Čiurlionis School of Art is a prestigious art school, offering free education to talented Lithuanians

Primary and lower secondary education is mandatory in Lithuania. Children must start attending pre-primary education at six years old and education is compulsory until the age of 16. Primary and secondary education is free at all stages, however there also are private schools with tuition fees in Vilnius. The education system is governed by the Government of Lithuania and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of Lithuania which headquarters are in Vilnius.

Cathedral School of Vilnius, first mentioned in 1397, is the earliest known Lithuanian school. Vilnius Vytautas the Great Gymnasium, established in 1915, is the first Lithuanian gymnasium in Eastern Lithuania. In 2018, the city had 120 schools (not including preschools) with 61,123 pupils and 4,955 educators. Four out of five best rated schools in Lithuania are located in Vilnius, while the Vilnius Lyceum is the number one.

Ethnic minorities in Lithuania are allowed to have their own schools. In Vilnius there are 7 elementary schools, 8 primary schools, 2 progymnasiums and 12 gymnasiums dedicated exceptionally for minorities children where lessons are conducted in minorities languages only. In 2017, there were 4,658 Poles and 9,274 Russians who studied in their minorities languages in the city.

Vilnius has 11 vocational schools which provides vocational education.

National M. K. Čiurlionis School of Art is the only art school in Lithuania spanning the entire 12-year learning cycle. Vilnius Justinas Vienožinskis Art School is another prominent art school in Vilnius.

Most of the school graduates in Vilnius later studies in the universities or colleges as Lithuania is one of the world's leading countries in OECD's statistics of population with tertiary education (56% of 25–34 year-olds in 2018).

Libraries

One of the 16th century Central Vilnius University Library reading rooms, decorated in 1803 with the portraits of the 12 most prominent figures in antiquity art and science

The Central Library of Vilnius City Municipality (Lithuanian: Vilniaus miesto savivaldybės centrinė biblioteka) operates public libraries in Vilnius. It has 17 public libraries, located in different elderships of Vilnius, 2 of them (libraries Saulutė and Papartis) are dedicated to children's literature only. Large part of these libraries organizes computer literacy courses that are free of charge. Usage of public libraries requires a free LIBIS (integrated information system of Lithuanian libraries) card.

Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos nacionalinė Martyno Mažvydo biblioteka), located in Gediminas Avenue and founded in 1919, is a national cultural institution which collects, organizes and preserves Lithuania's written cultural heritage content, develops the collection of Lithuanian and foreign documents relevant to research, educational and cultural needs of Lithuania, and provides library information services to the public. As of 1 July 2019, its electronic catalog has 1,140,708 bibliographic records.

The Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences (Lithuanian: Lietuvos mokslų akademijos Vrublevskių biblioteka) is a scientific library of state significance, a cultural, scientific and educational institution. Its founder is the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. All citizens of Lithuania and foreign countries are entitled to use the services of the Library. As of 1 January 2015, the stock of the Library counted 3,733,514 volumes. On 1 January 2015, the Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences had 12,274 registered users.

Every Lithuanian university and college has its own library, dedicated to their students, professors and alumni. The most notable modern university library is the National Open Access Scientific Communication and Information Center of Vilnius University (Lithuanian: Vilniaus universiteto bibliotekos Mokslinės komunikacijos ir informacijos centras) in Saulėtekis Valley, which was opened in 2013 and offers over 800 workplaces in total area of 14,043.61 m2 (151,164.2 sq ft). Central Vilnius University Library, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Library, Mykolas Romeris University Library, ISM University of Management and Economics Library, European Humanities University Library, Kazimieras Simonavičius University Library are located in these universities complexes in Vilnius.

Religious groups in Vilnius (2011 census)
Religion People %
Roman Catholic 350,797 65.5%
Eastern Orthodox 47,827 8.9%
Old Believers 5,593 1.0%
Evangelical Lutheran 1,594 0.3%
Evangelical Reformed 1,186 0.2%
Sunni Muslim 798 0.2%
Jewish 796 0.2%
Greek Catholic 167 <0.1%
Karaites 139 <0.1%
Other 5,050 0.9%
None 47,655 8.9%
No response 74,029 13.8%
Church of St. Casimir, the first Baroque church in Vilnius, known for excellent acoustics and organ concerts with renowned international musicians
Orthodox Cathedral of the Theotokos, built in the 14th century by Grand Duke Algirdas for newcomers Ruthenians in the Ruthenian quarter of Vilnius (Latin: Civitas Ruthenica)

Already in the 17th century Vilnius was known as a city of many religions. In 1600, Samuel Lewkenor's book describing cities with universities was published in London. Lewkenor mentions that citizens of Vilnius included Catholics, Orthodox, followers of John Calvin and Martin Luther, Jews and Tartar Muslims.

Throughout the 17th century Vilnius had a reputation as a city which had no rivals in Europe in the number of churches of different confessions. At the end of the century, this reputation was confirmed by the highly regarded (and several times republished) work by Robert Morden, "Geography Rectified or a Description of the World", which said that no other city in the world could surpass Vilnius in the number of churches and temples of various faiths, except perhaps Amsterdam.

Today Vilnius is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vilnius, with the main church institutions and Archdiocesan Cathedral (Vilnius Cathedral) located here. Numerous Christian Beatified persons, martyrs, Servants of God and Saints, are associated with Vilnius. These, among others, include Franciscan martyrs of Vilnius, Orthodox martyrs Anthony, John, and Eustathius, Saint Casimir, Josaphat Kuntsevych, Andrew Bobola, Raphael Kalinowski, Faustina Kowalska, Jurgis Matulaitis-Matulevičius.

There are a number of other active Roman Catholic churches in the city, along with small enclosed monasteries and religion schools. Church architecture includes Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical styles, with important examples of each found in the Old Town. Additionally, Eastern Rite Catholicism has maintained a presence in Vilnius since the Union of Brest. The Baroque Basilian Gate is part of an Eastern Rite monastery.

Vilnius has been home to an Eastern Orthodox Christian presence since the 13th or even the 12th century. A famous Russian Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Spirit, is near the [Gate of Dawn. St. Paraskeva's Orthodox Church in the Old Town is the site of the baptism of Hannibal, the great-grandfather of Pushkin, by Tsar Peter the Great in 1705. Many Old Believers, who split from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1667, settled in Lithuania. The Church of St. Michael and St. Constantine was built in 1913. Today a Supreme Council of the Old Believers is based in Vilnius.

A number of Protestant and other Christian groups are represented in Vilnius, most notably the Lutheran Evangelicals and the Baptists.

The pre-Christian religion of Lithuania, centred on the forces of nature as personified by deities such as Perkūnas (the Thunder God), is experiencing some increased interest. Romuva established a Vilnius branch in 1991.

Judaism and Karaism

Once widely known as Yerushalayim D'Lita (the "Jerusalem of Lithuania"), Vilnius, since the 18th century, was a world centre for Torah study, and had a large Jewish population. A major scholar of Judaism and Kabbalah centred in Vilnius was the famous Rabbi Eliyahu Kremer, also known as the Vilna Gaon. His writings have significant influence among Orthodox Jews to this day. Jewish life in Vilnius was destroyed during the Holocaust; there is a memorial stone dedicated to victims of Nazi genocide in the centre of the former Jewish Ghetto – now Mėsinių Street. The Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum is dedicated to the history of Lithuanian Jewish life. The site of Vilnius's largest synagogue, built in the early 1630s and wrecked by Nazi Germany during its occupation of Lithuania, was found by ground-penetrating radar in June 2015, with excavations set to begin in 2016.

The Karaites are a Jewish sect that migrated to Lithuania from the Crimea. Although their numbers are very small, the Karaites are becoming more prominent since Lithuanian independence, and have restored their kenesas (e.g. Vilnius Kenesa).

Pilgrimage

"It is safe to say that I have been in Vilnius all my life, at least since I became conscious. I was in Vilnius with thoughts and heart. One could say – the whole being. And so it stayed. And in Rome."

— From the speech of Pope John Paul II at the Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit during his visit to Lithuania in 1993.

The interior of the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn with the holy Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn painting

Since the Christianization of Lithuania in 1387, Vilnius has become one of the main centres of Christianity in Lithuania and a Christian pilgrimage site. Vilnius Pilgrimage Centre (Lithuanian: Vilniaus piligrimų centras) coordinates pilgrimages, assists in their proper preparation, and takes care of pilgrimage pastoral care. Many places in Vilnius are associated with divine miracles or marks significant events to the Christians. The Chapel of the Gate of Dawn is visited by thousands of Christian pilgrims annually. Initially, the gates were part of the defensive Wall of Vilnius, however in the 16th century they were given to the Carmelites, who installed a chapel in the gates with a prominent 17th century Catholic painting Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn. The painting was later decorated with gold-plated silver embellishments and is surrounded by a legend and divine miracles.

The first Divine Mercy painting by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski (1934) at the Divine Mercy Sanctuary, Vilnius
Verkiai Calvary, c. 1840s. It was built as a sign of gratitude for the victory in the Second Northern War.

Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy is another important pilgrimage site, which has the Divine Mercy image. Vilnius became the birthplace of the Divine Mercy Devotion when Saint Faustina began her mission under the guidance and discernment of her new spiritual director, blessed Michał Sopoćko. In 1934, the first Divine Mercy image was painted by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski under the supervision of Faustina Kowalska and it presently hangs in the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Vilnius. A feast of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is held in the shrine 24 hours per day. The House of St. Faustina where she previously lived is located in V. Grybo St. in Antakalnis and is open to the pilgrims every day.

Church of St. Philip and St. Jacob near the Lukiškės Square has the painting of the Mother of God of Lukiškės, which is glorified by divine miracles. The icon was painted in the 15th – 16th centuries and is one of the oldest monuments of easel painting in Lithuania. It was brought by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania artillery general Motiejus Korvinas Gosievskis from the Russo-Polish War. From 1684 onwards miracles began to be experienced in the Vilnius Dominican Monastery, related to the image of Mother of God of Lukiškės, which in 1737 were published in a miracles book Mystical fountain (Lithuanian: Mistinis fontanas). The icon was restored and returned to the Dominicans in 2012.

Three Crosses is a prominent monument in Vilnius. According to a debated legend of the Franciscan martyrs of Vilnius, presented in the Bychowiec Chronicle, fourteen Franciscan friars were invited to Vilnius from Podolia by Petras Goštautas. The friars publicly preached the gospel and denigrated the pagan Lithuanian gods. Angered city residents burned the monastery and killed all fourteen friars. Seven of them were beheaded on the Bleak Hill; the other seven were crucified and thrown into the Neris or Vilnia River.

Verkiai Calvary (or Vilnius Calvary) is the second oldest calvary in Lithuania after Žemaičių Kalvarija. It is located in Verkiai, a neighborhood of Vilnius. The Calvary was built in 1662–69 as a sign of gratitude for the victory in the Second Northern War (1655–60). The consecration ceremony of the new Stations of the Cross took place at Pentecost on 9 June 1669. The Calvary includes 20 brick chapels, seven wooden and one brick gate, and one bridge with a wooden chapel. The path ends at the Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross. In 1962 all chapels, except four closest to the church, were destroyed by the Soviet authorities with dynamites overnight. The Calvary was reconstructed in 1990–2002 and the chapels were solemnly consecrated at Pentecost in 2002. Pilgrimages in the Calvary are organized regularly with the clergy.

Church Heritage Museum (Lithuanian: Bažnytinio paveldo muziejus) exhibits the oldest and largest of all the churches of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania treasure trove of the Vilnius Cathedral and liturgical artefacts from other churches of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vilnius.

Vilnius is the only city in the Baltic states with an Apostolic Nunciature, in which Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis stayed during their visits to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Almost half of Vilnius is covered by green areas, such as parks, public gardens, natural reserves. Additionally, Vilnius is host to numerous lakes, where residents and visitors swim and have barbecues in the summer. Thirty lakes and 16 rivers cover 2.1% of Vilnius's area, with some of them having sand beaches.

Vingis Park, the city's largest, hosted several major rallies during Lithuania's drive towards independence in the 1980s. Sections of the annual Vilnius Marathon pass along the public walkways on the banks of the Neris River. The green area next to the White Bridge is another popular area to enjoy good weather, and has become venue for several music and large screen events.

Singing fountain in Bernardinai Garden

Cathedral Square in Old Town is surrounded by a number of the city's most historically significant sites. Lukiškės Square is the largest, bordered by several governmental buildings: the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Polish Embassy, and the Genocide Victims' Museum, where the KGB tortured and murdered numerous opposers of the communist regime. An oversized statue of Lenin in its centre was removed in 1991. Town Hall Square has long been a centre of trade fairs, celebrations, and events in Vilnius, including the Kaziukas Fair. The city Christmas tree is decorated there. State ceremonies are often held in Daukantas Square, facing the Presidential Palace.

On 20 October 2013, Bernardinai Garden, near Gediminas Tower, previously known as Sereikiškės Park, was opened after reconstruction. The authentic 19th century Vladislovas Štrausas environment was restored. It is a venue for concerts, festivals, and exhibitions.

Rasos Cemetery, consecrated in 1801, is the burial site of Jonas Basanavičius and other signatories of the 1918 Act of Independence, along with the heart of Polish leader Józef Piłsudski. Two of the three Jewish cemeteries in Vilnius were destroyed by communist authorities during the Soviet era; the remains of the Vilna Gaon were moved to the remaining one. A monument was erected at the place where Užupis Old Jewish Cemetery was. About 18,000 burials have been made in the Bernardine Cemetery, established in 1810; it was closed during the 1970s and is now being restored. Antakalnis Cemetery, established in 1809, contains various memorials to Polish, Lithuanian, German and Russian soldiers, along with the graves of those who were killed during the January Events.

Tourists in the Old Town of Vilnius

According to the data collected by the Lithuanian Department of Statistics, a total of 1,200,858 visitors had rented rooms in Vilnius accommodation venues where they spent a total of 2,212,109 nights in 2018. Compared to the 2017 statistics, the number of guests grew by 12% and 11% respectively.

The Republic of Užupis is a tourists frequently visited micronation in Vilnius, full of Bohemian culture and art

In 2018 81% of all the visitors who stayed in Vilnius were foreigners (970,577), which is 11% more than the previous year. Most foreign visitors came from Belarus (102,915), Germany (101,999), Poland (99,386), Russia (90,388) and Latvia (61,829). Guests from these countries accounted for 47% of all foreign guests, who rented rooms in Vilnius accommodation venues. Entirely, 230,281 Lithuanians (19% of all guests) were in Vilnius accommodation venues during 2018 (which is 18% more than in 2017).

According to a 2018 Vilnius Visitors Survey, 48% of tourists visited Vilnius for the first time, 85% of tourists planned the trip by themselves and 15% travelled with travel agencies. According to the same survey, 40% of tourists specified that they decided to visit Vilnius in order to learn about the history and heritage of the city; however, 23% of tourists also planned trips to other areas of Lithuania (e.g. Trakai, Kaunas, Druskininkai, Šiauliai, etc.). Many Belarusians (~200 000 granted travel visas annually) are arriving for shopping in the city's shopping malls and upon departing submits even half a meter long receipts to the customs.

In 2018 Vilnius Tourist Information Centres were visited by a total of 119,136 visitors (95,932 foreigners and 23,204 Lithuanians), a 5% increase compared with the 2017 statistics. In 2017 the centres were visited by 113,818 visitors (97,072 foreigners and 16,746 Lithuanians).

The best-rated tourist services in Vilnius are restaurants (cafés) services quality, old town attractions, hotels (or other accommodation places) services, trips to Trakai, parks (green zones), connection with the Vilnius Airport, food in hotels, restaurants, cafés.

In the City Costs Barometer 2019, Vilnius was ranked as number one among the European capitals for offering best value to visitors.

The Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports is slated in 2022 to be transformed into the leading convention center in the Baltic states. The controversial project has been approved by the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Hotels

Lithuania is a member of the European Hotelstars Union, which provides a harmonised hotel classification with common criteria and procedures in the participating countries. Vilnius has six 5-star hotels, all located in the Vilnius Old Town. There are also 27 4-star hotels. The Grand Hotel Kempinski Vilnius, with a direct view of the Cathedral Square, is considered as the most luxurious hotel in Vilnius and offers presidential rooms for around €3,000 per night (more than three times the average monthly net salary in Vilnius) and is frequently chosen by the heads of state, movie stars, famous musicians and other celebrities during their visits to Lithuania.

In 2019, Vilnius had 82 hotels, 8 motels and 40 other accommodation facilities with 6,822 rooms and 15,248 beds. The highest hotel room occupancy was in August and the lowest in February.

According to a 2018 Vilnius visitors survey, 44% of visitors to Vilnius stayed in middle-range hotels (3–4 stars), 12% stayed in standard or economy hotels (1–2 stars) and 11% stayed in luxury 5-star hotels.

Siemens Arena

Several teams are based in the city. The largest is the basketball club BC Rytas, which participates in European competitions such as the Euroleague and Eurocup, the domestic Lithuanian Basketball League, winning the ULEB Cup (predecessor to the Eurocup) in 2005 and the Eurocup in 2009. Its home arena is the 2,500-seat Lietuvos Rytas Arena; all European matches and important domestic matches are played in the 11,000-seat Siemens Arena.

Vilnius also has several football teams. FK Žalgiris is the main football team. The club plays at LFF Stadium in Vilnius (capacity 5,067). Construction of the multi-functional Lithuania National Stadium has been ongoing in Šeškinė since 1987 and is currently frozen.

Olympic champions in swimming Lina Kačiušytė and Robertas Žulpa are from Vilnius. There are several public swimming pools in Vilnius with Lazdynai Swimming Pool being the only Olympic-size swimming pool of the city.

The city is home to the Lithuanian Bandy Association, Badminton Federation, Canoeing Sports Federation, Baseball Association, Biathlon Federation, Sailors Union, Football Federation, Fencing Federation, Cycling Sports Federation, Archery Federation, Athletics Federation, Ice Hockey Federation, Basketball Federation, Curling Federation, Rowing Federation, Wrestling Federation, Speed Skating Association, Gymnastics Federation, Equestrian Union, Modern Pentathlon Federation, Shooting Union, Triathlon Federation, Volleyball Federation, Tennis Union, Taekwondo Federation, Weightlifting Federation, Table Tennis Association, Skiing Association, Rugby Federation, Swimming Federation.

The Vilnius Marathon is an international marathon with thousands of participants every year.

Vilnius is one of the host cities for the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup.

Navigability of the river Neris is very limited and no regular water routes exist, although it was used for navigation in the past. The river rises in Belarus, connecting Vilnius and Kernavė, and becomes a tributary of Nemunas river in Kaunas.

Vilnius Airport serves most Lithuanian international flights to many major European destinations. The airport has about 50 destinations in 25 countries. The airport is situated only 5 km (3.1 mi) away from the centre of the city, and has a direct rail link to Vilnius railway station.

The Vilnius railway station is an important hub serving direct passenger connections to Minsk, Kaliningrad, Moscow and Saint Petersburg as well as being a transit point of Pan-European Corridor IX.

Vilnius is the starting point of the A1 motorway that runs across Lithuania and connects the three major cities (Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda) and is a part of European route E85. The A2 motorway, connecting Vilnius with Panevėžys, is a part of E272. Other highways starting in Vilnius include A3, A4, A14, A15, A16. Vilnius's Southern bypass is road A19.

Carsharing and electric vehicles infrastructure

Carsharing company SPARK car and an EV charging station in Vilnius

Vilnius-based international company CityBee is the biggest carsharing services provider in Vilnius, which offers cars, bicycles and electric scooters for a short or long term rental. Users get free parking, fuel, insurance and are only required to pay for the time of usage and distance travelled. The rental is activated using a mobile app. Its biggest competitor is another Vilnius-based company SPARK, which works with the same principles, but offers only the electric vehicles and has its own charging stations across Vilnius.

Vilnius is the city with the most electric vehicles in Lithuania. The city has tens of public high-power charging stations, provided by a state-owned enterprise Ignitis ON and a municipal enterprise Susisiekimo paslaugos. Vilnius city municipality and the Government of Lithuania encourages the usage of electric vehicles and has granted a number of benefits for such cars users (e.g. six charging stations offers a completely free charging in Vilnius, free parking in the city's public areas, electric vehicles are allowed to drive in a separate A road lane and significantly benefits in the traffic jams, electric and hybrid vehicles license plates begins with a letter E).

Public transport

Solaris Urbino 18 bus and Škoda 26Tr Solaris trolleybuses in Vilnius
Orange bikes, available for renting

The bus network and the trolleybus network are run by Vilniaus viešasis transportas. There are over 60 bus, 18 trolleybus, 6 rapid bus and 6 night bus routes. The trolleybus network is one of the most extensive in Europe. Over 250 buses and 260 trolleybuses transport about 500,000 passengers every workday. The first regular bus routes were established in 1926, and the first trolleybuses were introduced in 1956.

At the end of 2007, a new electronic monthly ticket system was introduced. It was possible to buy an electronic card in shops and newspaper stands and have it credited with an appropriate amount of money. The monthly e-ticket cards could be bought once and credited with an appropriate amount of money in various ways including the Internet. Previous paper monthly tickets were in use until August 2008.

The ticket system changed again from 15 August 2012. E-Cards were replaced by Vilnius Citizen Cards ("Vilniečio Kortelė"). It is now possible to buy a card or change an old one in newspaper stands and have it credited with an appropriate amount of money or a particular type of ticket. Single trip tickets have been replaced by 30 and 60-minute tickets.

The public transportation system is dominated by the low-floor Volvo and Mercedes-Benz buses as well as Solaris trolleybuses. There are also plenty of the traditional Škoda vehicles, built in the Czech Republic, still in service, and many of these have been extensively refurbished internally. This is a result of major improvements that started in 2003 when the first brand-new Mercedes-Benz buses were bought. In 2004, a contract was signed with Volvo Buses to buy 90 brand-new 7700 buses over the following three years.

An electric tram and a metro system through the city were proposed in the 2000s. However, neither has progressed beyond initial planning. In 2018 the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania approved a new metro project with the president's agreement.

In 2014 a mobile app was launched with public transport tickets on smartphones.

In 2017, Vilnius started the historically largest upgrade of its bus services by purchasing 250 new low-floor buses. The project will result in making 6 of 10 public buses being brand new by the middle of 2018 and will allow its passengers to use such modern technologies as free Wi-Fi and to charge their electronic devices while traveling. On 5 September 2017, 50 new Isuzu buses were presented and articulated Scania buses were promised in the very near future. Vilnius City Municipality also held a contest for 41 new trolleybuses and its winner Solaris committed to deliver all trolleybuses until the autumn of 2018, which will also have the free Wi-Fi and charging features. On 13 November Vilnius City Municipality signed a contract with Solaris for the remaining 150 Solaris Urbino buses of the newest IV generation (100 standard and 50 articulated), also with the free Wi-Fi and USB charging. On 20 September 2019, five all-electric Karsan Jest Electric autobuses were presented, which will serve the 89 route in narrow streets.

Since 2017 a 30-minute ticket costs 0.65 euro, a 60-minute ticket costs 0.90 euro and a single ticket bought on board costs 1.00 euro. There are other types of tickets, both short-term and long-term. Various discounts for pupils, students and elder people are available.

House in which the Vilnius Medical Society was established in 1805

The Vilnians took care of the cleanliness and health responsibly already during the Grand Duchy of Lithuania times as the city had public bathhouses and one fourth of houses in Vilnius had individual bathhouses, also almost half of the houses had alcohol distilleries. In 1518, medicine doctor and canon Martynas Dušnickis established the first špitolė (English:spital) in Vilnius, which was the first hospital-like institution in Lithuania and treated people who were not able to take care of themselves due to their health condition, age, and poverty. The Brotherhood of Saint Roch maintained primitive hospitals and shelters (špitolė) for the sick and the disabled in Vilnius from 1708 to 1799, although it is not known whether the brothers had any kind of medical education, it is known that the brothers hired paramedics, doctors, and surgeons, including women nurses who could take care of their female patients, and a significant number of its patients had sexually transmitted diseases (other Catholic hospitals refused to treat such patients), also the brotherhood sheltered pregnant women and their abandoned children, other patients sought help for injuries, tuberculosis, rheumatism, arthritis, etc. In 1805, the Vilnius Medical Society was established on the initiative of Joseph Frank (son of Johann Peter Frank), which was the first society of this type in Eastern Europe and to this day unites medicine doctors and professors in Vilnius. The same year, the society established a teaching hospital (clinic) under the Vilnius University Faculty of Medicine.

The Ministry of Health is located in Vilnius and is responsible for the healthcare in Lithuania. Vilnians have to pay the compulsory health insurance (6.98% of the salary), which is governed by the Vilnius Territorial Health Insurance Fund and guarantees free health care to every insured person, however some residents are exempt from this tax (e.g. disabled persons, children, full-time students, etc.).

Vilnius University Hospital Santaros Klinikos and the Vilnius City Clinical Hospital are the primary hospitals in Vilnius. There also are eight polyclinics, the Medical Centre of the Ministry of the Interior and a number of private health care facilities in the city.

The title page of Kurier Litewski (1760, Vilnius)

The first Lithuanian periodical newspaper (weekly) Kurier Litewski was published in Vilnius from 1760 to 1763. Vilnius is home to numerous newspapers, magazines and publications including Lietuvos rytas, Lietuvos žinios, Verslo žinios, Respublika, Valstiečių laikraštis, Mokesčių žinios, Aktualijos, 15min, Vilniaus diena, Vilniaus Kraštas, Lietuvos aidas, Valstybė, Veidas, Panelė, Franciscan Bernardinai.lt, Russian Litovskij kurjer, Polish Tygodnik Wileńszczyzny.

Vilnius TV Tower is located in Karoliniškės microdistrict and transmits television signals to the whole of Vilnius. The most-viewed networks in Lithuania are headquartered in Vilnius including LRT televizija, TV3, LNK, BTV, LRT Plius, LRT Lituanica, TV6, Lietuvos rytas TV, TV1, TV8, Sport1, Liuks!, Info TV.

The first stationary radio station in Vilnius Rozgłośnia Wileńska was launched in Žvėrynas microdistrict on 28 November 1927, but was later moved to the present-day Gediminas Avenue in 1935. M-1, the first commercial radio station in Lithuania, started broadcasting from Vilnius in 1989. Many other Lithuanian or foreign languages radio stations also broadcasts from Vilnius, most of them signals comes from the Vilnius TV Tower or the Vilnius Press House.

The Lithuanian Union of Journalists (Lithuanian: Lietuvos žurnalistų sąjunga) and the Lithuanian Society of Journalists (Lithuanian: Lietuvos žurnalistų draugija) are headquartered in Vilnius.

Vilnius is twinned with:

  1. "Vilnius: In Search of the Jerusalem of Lithuania – Lithuanian Jewish Community". lzb.lt. 18 November 2016. Retrieved5 March 2021.
  2. Widespread use of the nickname from the 16th century to this day as a reference to the many Catholic churches and monasteries in Vilnius and overall religious atmosphere in the centre. This nickname was/is used not only by the foreigners but also by the local population. The 19th-century Lithuanian cultural figure Dionizas Poška nicknamed Vilnius "Rome of the North", as, according to him, Vilnius is "the old religious centre, that transformed from a pagan city into the bastion of Christianity". D. Poška, 'Raštai', Vilnius, 1959, p. 67
  3. Cultural newspaper, that has been published in Vilnius since 1990, is named "Šiaurės Atėnai" (The Athens of the North) as a reference to one of Vilnius's nicknames, which was widespread in the first half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, mostly because of Vilnius University. During the interwar period, a Polish scientific newspaper published in Vilnius was also named "Atheneum Wileńskie".
  4. Especially in the 16th–17th centuries, Vilnius was called the ‘New Babylon’ because of the many languages spoken there as well as its many religions (there were various Christian communities as well as Jews and a Muslim Tatar community). E.g.: S. Bodniak, "Polska w relacji włoskiej z roku 1604", Pamiętnik biblioteki kórnickiej, 2, (Kórnik, 1930), p. 37.
  5. This nickname was very popular among the Lithuanian nobility, citizens of Vilnius and poets, especially during the Baroque period. Many poets of the period, including Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski, nicknamed Vilnius "the capital of Palemon" or "the city of Palemon". Živilė Nedzinskaitė, Vilnius XVII–XVIII a. LDK lotyniškojoje poezijoje, Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, Vilnius, 2010, p. 16; Eugenija Ulčinaitė, Motiejus Kazimieras Sarbievijus: Antikos ir krikščionybės sintezė; Vilniaus pasveikinimas, Lietuvių literatūros ir tautosakos institutas, Vilnius, 2001, pp. 47, 59, 61, 63; etc.
  6. "Population on 1 January by age groups and sex - functional urban areas". appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu. Retrieved5 March 2021.
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  33. Aleksandravičius, Egidijus; Kulakauskas, Antanas (1996). Carų valdžioje: Lietuva XIX amžiuje [Under the Tzars: Lithuania in the 19th Century] (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Baltos lankos. Archived from the original on 12 August 2006. Polish translation: Pod władzą carów: Litwa w XIX wieku, Universitas, Kraków 2003, p. 90, ISBN 83-7052-543-1
  34. Hoerder, Dirk; Blank, Inge; Rössler, Horst (1994). Roots of the Transplanted. East European Monographs. p. 69. ISBN 978-0880332880.
  35. Zimmerman, Joshua D. (26 January 2004). Poles, Jews, and the Politics of Nationality: The Bund and the Polish Socialist Party in Late Tsarist Russia, 1892–1914. Univ of Wisconsin Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-299-19463-5.
  36. Snyder, Timothy (2003). The Reconstruction of Nations. Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus 1569–1999. Yale University Press. p. 306. ISBN 978-0-300-10586-5. A 1909 official count of the city found 205,250 inhabitants, of whom 1.2 percent were Lithuanian; 20.7 percent Russian; 37.8 percent Polish; and 36.8 percent Jewish.
  37. Vardys, Vytas Stanley; Sedaitis, Judith B. (1997).Lithuania: The Rebel Nation. Westview Series on the Post-Soviet Republics. WestviewPress. pp. 19–20. ISBN 0-8133-1839-4.
  38. Eidintas, Alfonsas; Žalys, Vytautas; Alfred Erich Senn (1999). Ed. Edvardas Tuskenis (ed.). Lithuania in European Politics: The Years of the First Republic, 1918–1940 (Paperback ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 17–18. ISBN 0-312-22458-3.
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  42. Abdelal, Rawi (2001). National Purpose in the World Economy: Post-Soviet States in Comparative Perspective. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-8977-8. At the same time, Poland acceded to Lithuanian authority over Vilnius in the 1920 Suwałki Agreement.
  43. Price, Glanville (1998). Encyclopedia of the Languages of Europe. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8014-8977-8. In 1920, Poland annexed a third of Lithuania's territory (including the capital, Vilnius) in a breach of the Treaty of Suvalkai of 7 October 1920, and it was only in 1939 that Lithuania regained Vilnius and about a quarter of the territory previously occupied by Poland.
  44. Smith, David James; Pabriks, Artis; Purs, Aldis; Lane, Thomas (2002). The Baltic States. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-28580-3. Fighting continued until the agreement at Suwałki between Lithuania and Poland on 7 October 1920, which drew a line of demarcation which was incomplete but indicated that the Vilnius area would be part of Lithuania
  45. Eudin, Xenia Joukoff; Fisher, Harold H.; Jones, Rosemary Brown (1957).Soviet Russia and the West, 1920–1927. Stanford University. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-8047-0478-6. The League effected an armistice, signed at Suwałki, 7 October 1920, by the terms of which the city was to remain under Lithuanian jurisdiction.
  46. Eidintas, Alfonsas; Tuskenis, Edvardas; Zalys, Vytautas (1999). Lithuania in European Politics. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-22458-5. The Lithuanians and the Poles signed an agreement at Suwałki on 7 October. Both sides were to cease hostilities and to peacefully settle all disputes. The demarcation line was extended only in the southern part of the front, to Bastunai. Vilnius was thus left on the Lithuanian side, but its security was not guaranteed.
  47. Abramowicz, Hirsz; Dobkin, Eva Zeitlin; Shandler, Jeffrey; Fishman, David E. (1999). Profiles of a Lost World: Memoirs of East European Jewish Life Before World War II. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8143-2784-5. Before long there was a change of authority: Polish legionnaires under the command of General Lucian Zeligowski 'did not agree' with the peace treaty signed with Lithuania in Suwałki, which ceded Vilna to Lithuania.
  48. Brecher, Michael; Wilkenfeld, Jonathan (1997). A Study of Crisis. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-10806-0. Mediation by the League Council led to an agreement on the 20th providing for a cease-fire and Lithuania's neutrality in the Polish–Russian War; Vilna remained part of Lithuania. The (abortive) Treaty of Suwałki, incorporating these terms, was signed on 7 October.
  49. Buell, Leslie (2007). Poland: Key to Europe. Alfred Knopf, republished by Read Books. ISBN 978-1-4067-4564-1. Clashes subsequently took place with Polish troops, leading to the armistice at Suwałki in October 1920 and the drawing of the famous Curzon Line under League mediation, which allotted Vilna to Lithuania.
  50. Slocombe, George (1970). Mirror to Geneva. Ayer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8369-1852-6. Zeligowski seized the city in October 1920, in flagrant violation not only of the Treaty of Suwałki signed by Poland and Lithuania two days earlier, but also of the covenant of the newly created League of Nations.
  51. "Prieš 100 metų lenkai užėmė Vilnių: kad jis vėl bus Lietuvos sostine, galėjo tikėti tik don kichotai". Lrt.lt (in Lithuanian). 19 April 2019. Retrieved22 September 2019.
  52. Müller, Jan-Werner (2002). Memory and Power in Post-War Europe: Studies in the Presence of the Past. Cambridge University Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-5210-0070-3.
  53. Gross, Jan Tomasz (2002). Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia. Princeton University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-6910-9603-2.
  54. Tylińska, Ewelina. "The revival of the Vilnius University in 1919: Historical conditions and importance for Polish science". In M. Kokowski (ed.). The Global and the Local: The History of Science and the Cultural Integration of Europe. 2nd ICESHS (Cracow, Poland, September 6–9, 2006). p. 896.
  55. Iškauskas, Česlovas. "Č. Iškauskas. Galingųjų vizitai Lietuvoje: Napoleonas, Hitleris, Putinas". DELFI. Retrieved24 September 2019.
  56. "Kultūrų kryžkelė. Menora (2014.10.30)". Lrt.lt. 30 October 2014. Retrieved12 November 2019.
  57. Krauski, Josef (1992). "Education as Resistance: The Polish Experience of Schooling During the War". In Lowe, Roy (ed.). Education and the Second World War : studies in schooling and social change. Falmer Press. p. 130. ISBN 0-7507-0054-8.
  58. Praleika, Aidanas. "Pirmoji pasaulyje "gyvybės vizas" žydams išdavė Lietuva, bet pasaulis to nežino". LZinios.lt. Retrieved15 November 2017.
  59. Snyder, Timothy (2003). The Reconstru

    Vilnius
Vilnius Article Talk Language Watch Edit Vilna Wilna and Wilno redirect here For other uses see Vilna disambiguation Wilna disambiguation and Wilno disambiguation Vilnius ˈ v ɪ l n i e s VIL nee es Lithuanian ˈvʲɪlʲnʲʊs listen see also other names is the capital and largest city of Lithuania with a population of 588 412 as of 2021 update 7 The population of Vilnius s functional urban area which stretches beyond the city limits is estimated at 706 832 as of 2019 6 while according to the Vilnius territorial health insurance fund there were 732 421 permanent inhabitants as of October 2020 in Vilnius city and Vilnius district municipalities combined 11 Vilnius is in southeastern Lithuania and is the second largest city in the Baltic states It is the seat of Lithuania s national government and the Vilnius District Municipality VilniusCapital cityClockwise from top right Gediminas Tower Vilnius business district Presidential Palace Pilies Street Gate of Dawn Vilnius Cathedral and its bell towerFlagCoat of armsNickname s Jerusalem of Lithuania 1 Rome of the North 2 Athens of the North 3 New Babylon 4 The city capital of Palemon 5 Motto s Unitas Justitia Spes Latin Unity Justice Hope Interactive map of VilniusVilniusLocation within LithuaniaShow map of LithuaniaVilniusLocation within the BalticsShow map of Baltic statesVilniusLocation within EuropeShow map of EuropeVilniusVilnius Earth Show map of EarthCoordinates 54 41 N 25 17 E 54 683 N 25 283 E 54 683 25 283 Coordinates 54 41 N 25 17 E 54 683 N 25 283 E 54 683 25 283CountryLithuaniaCountyVilnius CountyMunicipalityVilnius City MunicipalityCapital ofLithuaniaFirst mentioned1323Granted city rights1387EldershipsList AntakalnisFabijoniskesGrigiskesJustiniskesKaroliniskesLazdynaiNaujamiestisNaujininkaiNaujoji VilniaPaneriaiPasilaiciaiPilaiteRasosSeskineSnipiskesVerkiaiVilkpedeSenamiestis Old Town VirsuliskesZirmunaiZverynasGovernment TypeCity council MayorRemigijus SimasiusArea Capital city401 km2 155 sq mi Elevation112 m 367 ft Population 2021 7 Capital city588 412 Rank 31st in EU Density1 392 km2 3 610 sq mi Urban706 832 6 Demonym s VilnianTime zoneUTC 2 EET Summer DST UTC 3 EEST Postal code01001 14191Area code s 370 5GMP nominal 8 2019 Total 20 7 billion 24B Per capita 25 400 29012 City budget 740 million 9 HDI 2019 0 920 10 very highWebsitevilnius wbr ltUNESCO World Heritage SiteOfficial nameHistoric Centre of VilniusTypeCulturalCriteriaii ivDesignated1994 18th session Reference no 1 UNESCO regionEurope Vilnius is classified as a Gamma global city according to GaWC studies 12 and is known for the architecture in its Old Town declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 13 Before World War II Vilnius was one of the largest Jewish centres in Europe Its Jewish influence has led to its nickname the Jerusalem of Lithuania Napoleon called it the Jerusalem of the North 14 as he was passing through in 1812 In 2009 Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture together with Linz Austria 15 In 2021 Vilnius was named among top 25 fDi s Global Cities of the Future one of the most forward thinking cities with the greatest potential in the World 16 Contents 1 Etymology and other names 2 History 2 1 Early history and Grand Duchy of Lithuania 2 2 Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth 2 3 In the Russian Empire 2 4 World War I 2 5 Regional turmoil 1918 1920 2 6 Interbellum 2 7 World War II 2 8 In the Lithuanian SSR Soviet Union 2 9 Independent Lithuania 3 Geography 3 1 Nature reserves 4 Climate 5 Culture 5 1 Painting and sculpture 5 2 Literature 5 3 Cinema 5 4 Music 5 5 Theatre 5 6 Photography 5 7 Crafts 5 8 Language 5 9 Fashion 5 10 Holidays and festivals 6 Administration 6 1 City government 6 2 Subdivisions 6 3 District municipality 6 4 National government 6 5 Special services 7 Cityscape 7 1 Urbanism and architecture 7 2 Crypts 7 3 Housing 8 Demographics 8 1 Historic ethnic makeup 9 Economy 9 1 Science and research 9 2 Information technology 9 3 Finance and banking 10 Education 10 1 Tertiary education 10 2 Primary and secondary education 10 3 Libraries 11 Religion 11 1 Judaism and Karaism 11 2 Pilgrimage 12 Parks squares and cemeteries 13 Tourism 13 1 Hotels 14 Sports 15 Transport 15 1 Carsharing and electric vehicles infrastructure 15 2 Public transport 16 Healthcare 17 Media 18 Twin towns sister cities 19 Significant depictions in popular culture 20 Notable people 21 See also 22 References 22 1 Bibliography 23 External linksEtymology and other names EditThe name of the city originates from the Vilnia River from the Lithuanian for ripple 17 The city has also had many derivative spellings in various languages throughout its history Vilna was once common in English The most notable non Lithuanian names for the city include Polish Wilno Belarusian Vilnya Viĺnia German Wilna Latvian Vilna Ukrainian Vilno Vilno Yiddish ווילנע Vilne A Russian name from the time of the Russian Empire was Vilna Vilna 18 19 although Vilnyus Vilnyus is now used The names Wilno Wilna and Vilna were also used in older English German French and Italian language publications when the city was one of the capitals of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth and an important city in the Second Polish Republic The name Vilna is still used in Finnish Portuguese Spanish and Hebrew Wilna is still used in German along with Vilnius Iron Wolf The neighborhoods of Vilnius also have names in other languages which represent the languages spoken by various ethnic groups in the area According to legend Grand Duke Gediminas c 1275 1341 was hunting in the sacred forest near the Valley of Sventaragis near where the Vilnia River flows into the Neris River Tired after the successful hunt of a wisent the Grand Duke settled in for the night He fell soundly asleep and dreamed of a huge Iron Wolf standing on top a hill and howling as strong and loud as a hundred wolves Upon awakening the Duke asked the krivis pagan priest Lizdeika to interpret the dream The priest told him What is destined for the ruler and the State of Lithuania is thus the Iron Wolf represents a castle and a city which will be established by you on this site This city will be the capital of the Lithuanian lands and the dwelling of their rulers and the glory of their deeds shall echo throughout the world Therefore Gediminas obeying the will of the gods built the city and gave it the name Vilnius from the Vilnia River 20 History EditMain articles History of Vilnius and Timeline of Vilnius Early history and Grand Duchy of Lithuania Edit Further information Kingdom of Lithuania and Grand Duchy of Lithuania King Mindaugas Monument Historian Romas Batura identifies the city with Voruta one of the castles of Mindaugas who was King of Lithuania after coronation in 1253 During the reign of Grand Dukes Butvydas and Vytenis a city started emerging from a trading settlement and the first Franciscan Catholic church was built 21 Vilnius is the historic and present day capital of Lithuania Archeological findings indicate that this city was the capital of the Kingdom of Lithuania and later that of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania After Lithuania formed a dual confederation with the Kingdom of Poland Vilnius still remained as Lithuania s capital 22 The city was first mentioned in written sources in 1323 as Vilna 23 when the Letters of Grand Duke Gediminas were sent to German cities inviting Germans including German Jews to settle in the capital city as well as to Pope John XXII These letters contain the first unambiguous reference to Vilnius as the capital 22 Old Trakai Castle had been the earlier seat of the court of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Grand Duke Algirdas left consolidated Lithuania as a superpower of the region and multiple times devastated Moscow as a response to the Muscovy attacks on the Lithuanian lands 24 Under the reign of Vytautas the Great right Vilnius emerged as the capital of Europe s largest state Vilnius location offered practical advantages it lay in the Lithuanian heartland at the confluence of two navigable rivers Vilnia and Neris surrounded by impenetrable forests and wetlands At the time of the 14th century Lithuania was continuously invaded by the State of the Teutonic Order 25 The future King of England Henry IV then Henry Bolingbroke spent a full year of 1390 supporting the unsuccessful siege of Vilnius by Teutonic Knights with his 300 fellow knights During this campaign he bought captured Lithuanian women and children and took them back to Konigsberg for their conversion 26 King Henry s second expedition to Lithuania in 1392 illustrates the financial benefits of these guest crusaders to the Order His small army consisted of over 100 men including longbow archers and six minstrels at a total cost to the Lancastrian purse of 4 360 Despite the efforts of Bolingbroke and his English crusaders two years of attacks on Vilnius proved fruitless 27 Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and Grand Duke Gediminas Monument with the howling iron wolf Vilnius was the flourishing capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania the residence of the Grand Duke Gediminas expanded the Grand Duchy through warfare along with strategic alliances and marriages 22 At its height it covered the territory of modern day Lithuania Belarus Ukraine Transnistria and portions of modern day Poland and Russia His grandchildren Vytautas the Great and Jogaila however fought civil wars During the Lithuanian Civil War of 1389 1392 Vytautas besieged and razed the city in an attempt to wrest control from Jogaila 22 The two Gediminids cousins later settled their differences after a series of treaties culminating in the 1569 Union of Lublin the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth was formed The Commonwealth s rulers held two titles Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland In 1387 Jogaila acting as a Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland granted Magdeburg rights to the city 22 The city underwent a period of expansion in the 16th century The Wall of Vilnius were built for protection between 1503 and 1522 comprising nine city gates and three towers 22 and Sigismund II Augustus moved his court there in 1544 I saw as many jewels as I did not expect to find accumulated in one place with them the treasures of Venice and the Pope which I have also seen cannot be compared Papal nuncio Berardo Bongiovanni recalling about Sigismund II Augustus s treasury kept in the Grand Ducal Palace in 1560 28 Vilnius was Sigismund s favorite city his investments made it one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern and Central Europe 29 Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth Edit Further information Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth Vilnius panorama in 1600 by Tomasz Makowski Vilnius growth was due in part to the establishment of Alma Academia et Universitas Vilnensis Societatis Iesu by the Polish King and Grand Duke of Lithuania Stephen Bathory in 1579 The university soon developed into one of the most important scientific and cultural centres in the region and the most notable scientific centre of the Commonwealth 30 During its rapid development the city was open to migrants from the territories of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland Grand Duchy and further Many languages were spoken Polish German Yiddish Ruthenian Lithuanian Russian Old Church Slavonic Latin Hebrew and Turkic languages the city was compared to Babylon 25 Each group contributed uniquely to the city s life and crafts trade and science prospered The 17th century brought a number of setbacks The Commonwealth was involved in a series of wars collectively known as The Deluge During the Thirteen Years War 1654 1667 Vilnius was occupied by Muscovite forces it was pillaged and burned and its population massacred During the Great Northern War it was looted by the Swedish army An outbreak of bubonic plague in 1710 killed about 35 000 residents devastating fires occurred in 1715 1737 1741 1748 and 1749 25 The city s growth lost its momentum for many years but even despite this fact at the end of the 18th century and before the Napoleon wars Vilnius with 56 000 inhabitants entered the Russian Empire as its third largest city La Grande Armee in Vilnius during its retreat near the Vilnius Town Hall In the beginning of his invasion of Russia Napoleon established the Lithuanian Provisional Governing Commission with the nobility seeing him as a liberator In the Russian Empire Edit The fortunes of the Commonwealth declined during the 18th century Three partitions took place dividing its territory among the Russian Empire the Habsburg Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia Forces led by Jakub Jasinski expelled Russians from Vilnius during the uprising in 1794 31 However after the third partition of April 1795 Vilnius was annexed by the Russian Empire and became the capital of the Vilna Governorate During Russian rule the city walls were destroyed and by 1805 only the Gate of Dawn remained In 1812 the city was taken by Napoleon on his push towards Moscow and again during the disastrous retreat The Grande Armee was welcomed in Vilnius Thousands of soldiers died in the city during the eventual retreat the mass graves were uncovered in 2002 25 Inhabitants expected Tsar Alexander I to grant them autonomy in response to Napoleon s promises to restore the Commonwealth but Vilnius did not become autonomous neither by itself nor as a part of Congress Poland Following the November uprising in 1831 Vilnius University was closed and Russian repressions halted the further development of the city Civil unrest in 1861 was suppressed by the Imperial Russian Army 32 During the January uprising in 1863 heavy fighting occurred within the city but was brutally pacified by Mikhail Muravyov nicknamed The Hangman by the population because of the many executions he organized After the uprising all civil liberties were withdrawn and use of the Polish 33 and Lithuanian languages was banned 34 Vilnius had a vibrant Jewish population according to the Russian census of 1897 out of the total population of 154 500 Jews constituted 64 000 approximately 40 35 During the early 20th century the Lithuanian speaking population of Vilnius constituted only a small minority with Polish Yiddish and Russian speakers comprising the majority of the city s population 36 House of the Signatories in Vilnius In 1905 the Great Seimas of Vilnius took place in the current Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society building On 4 5 December 1905 the Great Seimas of Vilnius was held in the current Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society building with over 2000 participants It was the first modern national congress in Lithuania 37 The assembly decided to demand wide political autonomy within the Russian Empire and achieve this by peaceful means It is considered an important step towards the Act of Independence of Lithuania adopted on 16 February 1918 by the Council of Lithuania as the Seimas laid the groundwork for the establishment of an independent Lithuanian state 38 World War I Edit During World War I Vilnius and the rest of Lithuania was occupied by the German Army from 1915 until 1918 39 The Act of Independence of Lithuania which declared Lithuanian independence without any affiliation to any other nation was issued in the city on 16 February 1918 with Vilnius as its capital 40 Regional turmoil 1918 1920 Edit At the end of 1918 Soviet Russia invaded Lithuania with massive forces and the Lithuanian Army withdrew from Vilnius to the center of the country in order to form a defense line The German Army withdrew together with the Lithuanian government The Self Defence of Lithuania which was affiliated with the Second Polish Republic briefly controlled the city and unsuccessfully tried protecting it against the invading Soviet forces Vilnius changed hands again during the Polish Soviet War and the Lithuanian Wars of Independence it was taken by the Polish Army only to fall to Soviet forces again Shortly after the Red Army s defeat at the 1920 Battle of Warsaw in order to delay the Polish advance the Soviet government ceded the city to Lithuania after the signing the Soviet Lithuanian Peace Treaty on 12 July 1920 41 The League of Nations became involved in the subsequent Lithuanian self defense from Poland after it attacked Lithuanian army positions in the south west of Lithuania The League brokered the ceasefire called the Suwalki Agreement on 7 October 1920 Lithuanians believed that it stopped a Polish aggression Although neither Vilnius or the surrounding region was explicitly addressed in the agreement numerous historians have described the agreement as allotting Vilnius to Lithuania 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 On 9 October 1920 the Polish Army surreptitiously under General Lucjan Zeligowski seized Vilnius during an operation known as Zeligowski s Mutiny The city and its surroundings were designated as a separate state called the Republic of Central Lithuania Celebration of incorporation of Vilnius Region to Poland in 1922 The event sparked vast Lithuanians anger with a popular interwar chant Mes be Vilniaus nenurimsim English We will not calm down without Vilnius 51 Interbellum Edit On 20 February 1922 after the highly contested election in Central Lithuania the entire area was annexed by Poland with the city becoming the capital of the Wilno Voivodeship Wilno being the name of Vilnius in Polish Kaunas then became the temporary capital of Lithuania Lithuania vigorously contested the Polish annexation of Vilnius and refused diplomatic relations with Poland The predominant languages of the city were still Polish and to a lesser extent Yiddish The Lithuanian speaking population at the time was a small minority at about 6 of the city s population according even to contemporary Lithuanian sources 52 The Council of Ambassadors and the international community with the exception of Lithuania recognized Polish sovereignty over Vilnius Region in 1923 53 Vilnius University was reopened in 1919 under the name of Stefan Batory University 54 By 1931 the city had 195 000 inhabitants making it the fifth largest city in Poland with varied industries such as Elektrit a factory that produced radio receivers World War II Edit Further information Occupation of the Baltic states June Uprising in Lithuania and Vilna Ghetto Lithuanian Army tanks in Vilnius after regaining control of the capital Nazi Germany had invited Lithuania to join the invasion of Poland and retake the historical capital Vilnius by force however President Antanas Smetona and most of the Lithuanian politicians declined this offer because they had doubts about Adolf Hitler s eventual victory and were outraged by the 1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania Instead they supported the neutrality policy and after being encouraged by the French and British diplomats Lithuania adopted the Neutrality Act which was supported by all the political forces 55 World War II began with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 The secret protocols of the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact had partitioned Lithuania and Poland into German and Soviet spheres of interest On 19 September 1939 Vilnius was seized by the Soviet Union which invaded Poland on 17 September The Soviets repressed the local population and devastated city moving assets and factories to the USSR territory including the major Polish radio factory Elektrit along with a part of its labor force to Minsk in Belarus SSR 56 The Soviets and Lithuania concluded a mutual assistance treaty on 10 October 1939 with which the Lithuanian government accepted the presence of Soviet military bases in various parts of the country On 28 October 1939 the Red Army withdrew from the city to its suburbs to Naujoji Vilnia and Vilnius was given over to Lithuania A Lithuanian Army parade took place on 29 October 1939 through the city center The Lithuanians immediately attempted to re Lithuanize the city for example by Lithuanizing Polish schools 57 Just after the beginning of the World War II on 2 September 1939 the Lithuanian Consulate was opened in Vilnius The consulate was the first in the world to grant Visas For Life for the Jews and also saved many Polish war refugees 58 The whole of Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union on 3 August 1940 following a June ultimatum from the Soviets demanding among other things that unspecified numbers of Red Army soldiers be allowed to enter the country for the purpose of helping to form a more pro Soviet government After the ultimatum was issued and Lithuania further occupied a Soviet government was installed with Vilnius as the capital of the newly created Lithuanian SSR Between 20 000 and 30 000 of the city s inhabitants were subsequently arrested by the NKVD and sent to gulags in the far eastern areas of the Soviet Union 59 Povilas Plechavicius commander of the LTDF On 22 June 1941 the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union while at the same time Lithuanians began the anti Soviet June Uprising organized by the Lithuanian Activist Front Lithuanians proclaimed independence and organized the Provisional Government of Lithuania This government quickly self disbanded 60 Nazis captured Vilnius on 24 June 1941 61 Lithuania became part of the Reichskommissariat Ostland German civil administration 62 Two ghettos were set up in the old town centre for the large Jewish population the smaller one of which was liquidated by October 63 The larger ghetto lasted until 1943 though its population was regularly deported in roundups known as Aktionen 64 A forced labour camp Kailis was also set up behind the Vilnius Town Hall as a factory to produce winter clothing for the Wehrmacht and another one later for vehicle repair HKP 562 on 47 amp 49 Subaciaus Street A failed ghetto uprising on 1 September 1943 organized by the Fareinigte Partizaner Organizacje the United Partisan Organization the first Jewish partisan unit in German occupied Europe 65 was followed by the final destruction of the ghetto During the Holocaust about 95 of the 265 000 strong Jewish population of Lithuania was murdered by the German units and Lithuanian Nazi collaborators many of them in Paneriai about 10 km 6 2 mi west of the old town centre see the Ponary massacre In 1944 after the Nazis suffered losses in the Eastern Front and the Red Army was approaching the Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force LTDF was established under the command of general Povilas Plechavicius The LTDF mission was to defend the country within its borders against the Red Army and the Soviet partisans 66 On 1 April 1944 the LTDF battalions entered Vilnius and confronted the Armia Krajowa AK which unsuccessfully attempted to capture the city before the Soviets see Operation Ostra Brama 67 The AK tried to negotiate a non aggression pact with Plechavicius but the Lithuanian side demanded the Poles to abandon the Vilnius Region or subordinate themselves to Lithuanians 68 The 19 500 men LTDF disbanded itself after refusing to transcend the Lithuanian border and to aid the Nazis in the Eastern Front Many of the former LTDF members later formed the core of the Lithuanian partisans e g Jonas Zemaitis 69 In the Lithuanian SSR Soviet Union Edit Further information Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic The former KGB headquarters in Vilnius now the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights In July 1944 Vilnius was once more occupied by Soviet Army with the Vilnius offensive during which it defeated the German garrison 70 The town was once more the Lithuanian SSR s capital The NKVD began repressions against Lithuanians and Armia Krajowa 71 72 Sovietization began in earnest The war had irreversibly altered the city most of the city s population was removed from the city and 40 of its buildings were destroyed including numerous historic architectural monuments 73 The Jewish population had been exterminated in the Holocaust while most of the remaining ones were compelled to move to Communist Poland by 1946 Some partisans and members of the intelligentsia hiding in the forest were now targeted and deported to Siberia after the war citation needed From the late 1940s on Vilnius began to grow again following an influx of Lithuanians Poles and Belarusians from neighbouring regions and throughout Lithuania as well as neighbouring region of Grodno and from other more remote areas of the Soviet Union particularly Russia Belarus and Ukraine citation needed Most of these new residents moved to Vilnius due to repressions or poor living conditions caused by e g collectivisation in areas where they lived previously 74 75 On the previously rural outskirts as well as in the very vicinity of the Old Town industrial zones in Paupys Markuciai Naujamiestis industrial areas were re designed and large Soviet plants were built following a program of industrialization citation needed In November 1980 the number of inhabitants of Vilnius exceeded 500 000 Because of shortage of housing for a growing population of the city large scale Microdistricts so called sleeping districts were built in the elderates of Antakalnis Zirmunai Lazdynai Karoliniskes Virsuliskes Baltupiai Justiniskes Pasilaiciai Fabijoniskes and on a smaller scale in other parts of Vilnius 22 These were connected with the central part as well as with industrial areas via expressway like streets so called fast traffic streets and by public transport noticeably extensive network of trolleybuses from 1956 Independent Lithuania Edit Skyline of the New City Center from Karoliniskes outcrop with the majority of high rise buildings constructed in the last two decades after the Act of the Re Establishment of the State of Lithuania was declared Annual commemoration of January Events in the Independence Square near the Seimas Palace with bonfires On 11 March 1990 the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian SSR announced its secession from the Soviet Union and intention to restore an independent Republic of Lithuania 76 As a result of these declarations on 9 January 1991 the Soviet Union sent in troops This culminated in the 13 January attack on the State Radio and Television Building and the Vilnius TV Tower killing at least fourteen civilians and seriously injuring 700 more 77 The Soviet Union finally recognised Lithuanian independence in September 1991 78 The Constitution as did the earlier Lithuanian Constitution of 1922 mentions that the capital of the State of Lithuania shall be the city of Vilnius the long standing historical capital of Lithuania Gediminas Avenue in autumn Vilnius has been rapidly transforming emerging as a modern European city The majority of its historical buildings during the last 25 years had been renovated and a business and commercial area is being developed into the New City Centre that is expected to become the city s main administrative and business district on the north side of the Neris river This area includes modern residential and retail space with the municipality building and the 148 3 metre 487 ft Europa Tower as its most prominent buildings The construction of Swedbank s headquarters is symbolic of the importance of Scandinavian banks in Vilnius The building complex Vilnius Business Harbour was built in 2008 and one of its towers is now the 6th tallest building in Lithuania More buildings are scheduled for construction in the area More than 75 000 new flats were built between 1995 and 2018 including almost 50 000 new flats between 2003 and 2018 making Vilnius an absolute leader in construction sector in the Baltics of the last two decades On average 298 000 square metre 3 210 000 sq ft or 3 246 flats are built each year In 2015 there were 225 871 units in multi storey houses and 20 578 flats in single family or duplex apartment houses the share of such housing increasing from 6 9 in 2006 to 8 3 in 2015 79 80 The record numbers of flats were built in 2019 4 322 flats in multi family residentials were built in Vilnius city municipality and 817 flats were built in Vilnius urban zone the city and the closest surroundings in single family detached houses the later being the highest number in history 81 Vilnius was selected as a 2009 European Capital of Culture along with Linz the capital of Upper Austria Its 2009 New Year s Eve celebration marking the event featured a light show said to be visible from outer space 82 In preparation the historical centre of the city was restored and its main monuments were renovated 83 The global economic crisis led to a drop in tourism which prevented many of the projects from reaching their planned extent and allegations of corruption and incompetence were made against the organisers 84 85 while tax increases for cultural activity led to public protests 86 and the general economic conditions sparked riots 87 In 2015 Remigijus Simasius became the first directly elected mayor of the city 88 On 28 29 November 2013 Vilnius hosted the Eastern Partnership Summit in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania Many European presidents prime ministers and other high ranking officials participated in the event 89 On 29 November 2013 Georgia and Moldova signed association and free trade agreements with the European Union 90 Previously Ukraine and Armenia were also expected to sign the agreements but postponed the decision sparking large protests in Ukraine The 2023 NATO summit will be held in Vilnius 91 Geography Edit Neris River at Mindaugas Bridge with Vilnius Upper Castle in the distance A favorable geographic location made the Upper Castle on the Gediminas Hill unconquerable for hundreds of years 22 Vilnius is situated in south eastern Lithuania 54 41 N 25 17 E 54 683 N 25 283 E 54 683 25 283 at the confluence of the Vilnia and Neris rivers Multiple countries claims that the Geographical Centre of Europe is located in their territories however the only location with recognition in the Guinness Book of World Records is located near Vilnius 92 After a re estimation of the boundaries of the continent of Europe in 1989 Jean George Affholder a scientist at the Institut Geographique National French National Geographic Institute determined that the geographic centre of Europe is located at 54 54 N 25 19 E 54 900 N 25 317 E 54 900 25 317 Purnuskes centre of gravity 93 The method used for calculating this point was that of the centre of gravity of the geometrical figure of Europe This point is located in Lithuania near the village of Girija 26 kilometres from Vilnius A monument composed by the sculptor Gediminas Jokubonis and consisting of a column of white granite surmounted by a crown of stars was erected at the location in 2004 92 Vilnius lies 312 km 194 mi from the Baltic Sea and Klaipeda the chief Lithuanian seaport Vilnius is connected by highways to other major Lithuanian cities such as Kaunas 102 km or 63 mi away Siauliai 214 km or 133 mi away and Panevezys 135 km or 84 mi away The area of Vilnius is 402 square kilometres 155 sq mi Buildings occupy 29 1 of the city green spaces occupy 68 8 and waters occupy 2 1 94 Nature reserves Edit Vilnius has eight protected nature reserves Vokes Senslenio Slopes Geomorphological Reserve Aukstagiris Geomorphological Reserve Valakupiu Klonio Geomorphological Reserve Verzuva Hydrographic Reserve Voke Hydrographic Reserve Cedronas Upstream Landscape Reserve Tapeliai Landscape Reserve and Seskine Slopes Geomorphological Reserve 95 Climate Edit Foggy winter sunrise in Vilnius The climate of Vilnius is humid continental Koppen climate classification Dfb 96 Temperature records have been kept since 1777 97 The average annual temperature is 7 3 C 45 F in January the average temperature is 3 9 C 25 F in July it is 18 7 C 66 F The average precipitation is about 691 millimetres 27 20 in per year Average annual temperatures in the city have increased significantly during the last 30 years a change which the Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service attributes to global warming induced by human activities 98 Summer days are pleasantly warm and sometimes hot especially in July and August with temperatures above 30 C 86 F throughout the day during periodic heat waves Night life in Vilnius is in full swing at this time of year and outdoor bars restaurants and cafes become very popular during the daytime Winters can be very cold with temperatures rarely reaching above freezing temperatures below 25 C 13 F are not unheard of in January and February Vilnius s rivers freeze over in particularly cold winters and the lakes surrounding the city are almost always permanently frozen during this time of year A popular pastime is ice fishing The Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service is headquartered in Vilnius and monitors climate of Vilnius and Lithuania 99 Climate data for Vilnius 1991 2020 normals sun 1961 1990 Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec YearRecord high C F 11 0 51 8 14 4 57 9 19 8 67 6 29 0 84 2 31 8 89 2 34 2 93 6 36 4 97 5 34 9 94 8 33 1 91 6 24 5 76 1 15 5 59 9 10 5 50 9 36 4 97 5 Average high C F 1 7 28 9 0 5 31 1 4 4 39 9 12 6 54 7 18 4 65 1 21 7 71 1 23 8 74 8 23 1 73 6 17 4 63 3 10 2 50 4 3 7 38 7 0 3 31 5 11 2 52 2 Daily mean C F 3 9 25 0 3 1 26 4 0 9 33 6 7 6 45 7 13 0 55 4 16 4 61 5 18 7 65 7 17 9 64 2 13 0 55 4 7 0 44 6 1 8 35 2 2 2 28 0 7 3 45 1 Average low C F 5 9 21 4 5 6 21 9 2 7 27 1 2 6 36 7 7 5 45 5 11 1 52 0 13 6 56 5 12 7 54 9 8 5 47 3 3 7 38 7 0 1 31 8 4 1 24 6 3 5 38 3 Record low C F 37 2 35 0 35 8 32 4 29 6 21 3 14 4 6 1 4 4 24 1 0 1 32 2 3 5 38 3 1 0 33 8 4 8 23 4 14 4 6 1 22 8 9 0 30 5 22 9 37 2 35 0 Average precipitation mm inches 38 9 1 53 34 4 1 35 37 0 1 46 46 2 1 82 52 1 2 05 72 7 2 86 79 3 3 12 75 8 2 98 65 2 2 57 51 5 2 03 51 5 2 03 49 2 1 94 653 8 25 74 Average precipitation days 21 7 18 4 17 5 10 2 12 4 11 7 11 4 10 5 9 7 13 5 16 7 21 2 174 9Mean monthly sunshine hours 37 70 117 165 242 231 220 217 141 93 33 25 1 591Average ultraviolet index 0 1 2 3 5 6 6 5 3 2 1 0 3Source WMO avg high and low 100 NOAA sun extremes and mean temperatures 101 Meteo Climat 102 and Weather Atlas 103 Culture EditPainting and sculpture Edit Gothic wall frescoes of the Church of St Francis and St Bernard 16th century Tombstone of Lew Sapieha ca 1633 at Church of St Michael For centuries Vilnius as a capital city was an art centre of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and has attracted artists from all across Europe The oldest works of art which remained from the early Gothic period 14th century are paintings dedicated to churches and liturgy e g frescoes in the Crypts of Vilnius Cathedral decorated hymns books Walls paintings from the 16th centuries were also discovered in Vilnius e g painting of the Church of St Francis and St Bernard vaults or in the Church of Saint Nicholas 104 Gothic wooden mostly polychrome sculptures were used to decorate the altars of the churches of Vilnius Some Gothic seals from the 14 15th centuries remained till the nowadays Kestutis Vytautas the Great Sigismund II Augustus 105 In the early 16th century the Renaissance sculptures appeared which were mostly created by Italian sculptors Bernardinus Zanobi da Gianotti Giovani Cini Giovanni Maria Padovano In the Renaissance period portrait tombstones and medals were highly valued e g marle tomb of Albertas Gostautas 1548 by B Z da Gianotti tomb of Povilas Alseniskis 1555 by G Cini both located in the Vilnius Cathedral The works of Italian sculptors are characterized by a naturalistic treatment of forms precise proportions tectonicity a realistic representation of the deceased The local sculptors took over only the iconographic scheme of the Renaissance tomb their works e g tomb of Lew Sapieha ca 1633 at Church of St Michael are characterized by conditionality of forms stylization 105 During this period local and Western European painters created religious mythologic compositions portraits which were intertwined with late Gothic and Baroque features Illustrated prayer books illustrations and miniatures have survived 104 The Baroque period which began in the late 16th century was exceptional for Vilnius as wall painting blossomed in the city Most of the palaces and churches were decorated with frescoes characterized by bright colors sophisticated angles and dramatism style Also during this period the secular painting spread representational imaginative epitaph portraits scenes of battles politically important events It is characterized by detailed realistic style 104 This period sculptures dominated in the sacred architecture tombstones with sculptural portraits exterior and interior decorative sculptures made of wood marble and stucco Italian sculptors e g G P Perti G M Galli A S Capone were exceptionally important in the 17th century Grand Duchy s sculptures development and were invited there by the Lithuanian nobility Their works are characterized by the features of mature baroque expressiveness of forms sensuality atectonic composition e g sculptural decor of the Church of St Peter and St Paul The local sculptors emphasized the decorative features of the baroque and the expressiveness and emotionality of the baroque was less characteristic in their works 105 Lithuanian Girl with Palm Sunday Fronds by Kanutas Ruseckas At the late 18th and 19th centuries the Lithuanian painting was largely influenced by the Vilnius Art School which introduced manifestations of Classicism art and later of Romanticism art The painters had internships abroad mainly in Italy Painting of allegorical mythological compositions landscapes portraits of representatives of various circles of society was begun historical themes prevailed The most famous Classicism painters from this time are Pranciskus Smuglevicius Jan Rustem Juozapas Oleskevicius Danielius Kondratavicius Juozapas Peska Vincentas Smakauskas While the Romanticism art is characterized by Jan Rustem Jonas Damelis Vincentas Dmachauskas Kanutas Ruseckas works 104 After the closure of Vilnius University in 1832 the artistic direction formed by the representatives of the Vilnius Art School influenced the further development of Lithuanian art 106 Development of art in the first half of the 20th century was promoted by activities and exhibitions of the Lithuanian Art Society established in 1907 by Petras Rimsa Antanas Zmuidzinavicius Antanas Jarosevicius and Vilnius Art Society established in 1908 107 108 This period is characterized by Jonas Sileika Justinas Vienozinskis Jonas Mackevicius Vytautas Kairiukstis Vytautas Pranas Biciunas works They continued the traditions of Western European styles symbolism realism art nouveau and followed the modernism art directions 104 Although after the World War II the method of socialist realism was introduced propaganda paintings compositions of historical household genre still lifes landscapes portraits and sculptures 104 105 The most notable late 20th and 21st centuries Vilnian painters are Zygimantas Augustinas Egle Ridikaite Egle Gineityte Patricija Jurksaityte Jurga Barilaite Solomonas Teitelbaumas 104 Vilnius Picture Gallery in the old town former Chodkiewicz Palace Many prominent art galleries are located in Vilnius Lithuania s largest art collection is housed in the Lithuanian Art Museum 109 One branch of it the Vilnius Picture Gallery in the Vilnius Old Town houses a collection of Lithuanian art from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century 110 On the other side of the Neris the National Art Gallery holds a permanent exhibition on Lithuanian 20th century art as well as numerous exhibitions on modern art 111 The Contemporary Art Centre is the largest venue for contemporary art in the Baltic States with an exhibition space of 2400 square meters The centre is a non collection based institution committed to developing a broad range of international and Lithuanian exhibition projects as well as presenting a wide range of public programmes including lectures seminars performances film and video screenings and live new music events 112 On 10 November 2007 the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center was opened by avant garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas with its premiere exhibition entitled The Avant Garde From Futurism to Fluxus 113 In 2018 the MO Museum was opened and is a personal initiative of Lithuanian scientists and philanthropists Danguole and Viktoras Butkus Its collection of 5000 modern and contemporary pieces contains major Lithuanian artworks from the 1950s to this day 114 The Uzupis district near the Old Town which used to be one of the more run down districts of Vilnius during the Soviet era is home to a movement of bohemian artists who operate numerous art galleries and workshops Uzupis declared itself an independent republic on April Fool s Day in 1997 115 In the main square the statue of an angel blowing a trumpet stands as a symbol of artistic freedom In 1995 the world s first bronze cast of Frank Zappa 116 was installed in the Naujamiestis district with the permission of the government The Frank Zappa sculpture confirmed the newly found freedom of expression and marked the beginning of a new era for Lithuanian society In 2015 the project of Vilnius Talking Statues was realized Eighteen statues around Vilnius interact with visitors in multiple languages by a telephone call to a smartphone 117 Literature Edit See also Lithuanian literature Zawadzki bookstore on the present day Pilies Street The store banners are printed in five languages Russian Polish Lithuanian French German About 1520 Francysk Skaryna who is the author of the first Ruthenian Bible established a printing house in Vilnius the first in Eastern Europe In 1522 he prepared and published the first printed book of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania titled the Little Traveller s Book Ruthenian language Malaya podorozhnaya knizhka In 1525 he printed the Acts and Epistles of the Apostles the Apostle 118 The Vilnius Academy Press was established in 1575 by the Lithuanian noble Mikolaj Krzysztof the Orphan Radziwill as the printing house of the Vilnius Academy He delegated the management of the printing house to the Jesuits In May 1576 it published its first book Pro Sacratissima Eucharistia contra haeresim Zwinglianam by Piotr Skarga The Vilnius Academy Press situation was exceptional because its activities were funded by the secular society the Lithuanian nobility and the Church 119 In 1805 Jozef Zawadzki bought the Vilnius Academy Press and founded the Jozef Zawadzki printing shop which continuously worked till 1939 and published books in multiple languages 120 The first poetry book of Adam Mickiewicz was published there in 1822 121 Gate of the Basilian Monastery where poet Adam Mickiewicz was imprisoned for fighting the Russian rule One of the creators of Lithuanian writing Mikalojus Dauksa translated and published the Catechism by Spanish Jesuit theologist Jacobo Ledesma in 1595 this was the first printed Lithuanian language book in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania He also translated and published the Jakub Wujek s Postilla Catholica in 1599 both in Vilnius 122 The Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore Vileisis Palace Many famous writers were born lived in Vilnius or are alumnus of the Vilnius University e g Konstantinas Sirvydas Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski Antoni Gorecki Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski Antoni Edward Odyniec Michal Jozef Romer Adam Mickiewicz Wladyslaw Syrokomla Jozef Mackiewicz Romain Gary Juliusz Slowacki Simonas Daukantas Mykolas Birziska Petras Cvirka who was killed in Vilnius by soviet secret police Kazys Bradunas Nobel prize winner Czeslaw Milosz Jurga Ivanauskaite 123 The first consideration of the First Statute of Lithuania took place in 1522 at the Seimas of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in Vilnius The Statute of Lithuania has been drafted under the guidance of Grand Chancellor of Lithuania Albertas Gostautas and in accordance with the courts jurisprudence formed by customary law Heads of State legislation on certain matters and by the provisions of the canon law and Roman law regulations It is the first official codification of this kind of secular law in Europe 124 Lithuanian nationalist Albertas Gostautas actively supported the Lithuanian language usage in the Lithuanian literature and protected Lithuanian authors including Abraomas Kulvietis and Michael the Lithuanian who criticised the usage of Old Slavonic church language and called refugees Old Believers as the Muscovian spies in his book De moribus tartarorum lituanorum et moscorum 125 Since the 16th century the Lithuanian Metrica was kept at the Lower Castle and safeguarded by the State Chancellor Due to the deterioration of the books the State Grand Chancellor Lew Sapieha ordered the volumes of the Metrica to be recopied in 1594 The recopying process continued until 1607 The newly recopied books were inventoried rechecked and transferred to a separate building in Vilnius with the older books remaining in the Castle of Vilnius According to the 1983 data 665 books have remained till the nowadays and their microfilms are preserved at the Lithuanian State Historical Archives in Vilnius 126 Over 200 tiles and commemorative plaques to writers who have lived and worked in Vilnius and foreign authors who have shared a connection with Vilnius and Lithuania adorn walls on Literatu Street Lithuanian Literatu gatve in the Old Town presenting a broad overview of the history of Lithuanian literature 127 The Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore and the Lithuanian Writers Union are located in Vilnius 128 129 The biggest book fair in Baltic states is annually held in Vilnius at LITEXPO the Baltic s biggest exhibition centre 130 Cinema Edit See also Cinema of Lithuania Billboard above the Botanical Garden now Bernardinai Garden main gates of the first cinema screening in Vilnius 1897 The very first public film session in Vilnius was held in the Botanical Garden now Bernardinai Garden in the summer of 1897 It is notable that such an event was held in Vilnius soon after the very first film sessions in the world by Auguste and Louis Lumiere who held it in Paris in 1895 Vilnius film session also showed the Lumiere brothers documentary movies Firstly shown movies were educational and were filmed in exotic locations e g India Africa and introduced different cultures to Vilnians who enjoyed the movies because very few were able to visit such far places Georges Melies s movie A Trip to the Moon was first shown in the non stationary Lukiskes Square movie theater in 1902 and was the first feature film shown in Vilnius 131 Lithuanian Theater Music and Cinema Museum located in the 17th century Minor Radvilos Palace First stationary movie theater in Vilnius named Iliuzija English Illusion was opened in 1905 and was located in Didzioji Street 60 132 First movie theaters reminded theatres buildings and had boxes with more expensive tickets Also because there was no sound in the first movies the sessions had a live orchestral or musicians performances On stage cinema screening was sometimes mixed with theatrical performances illusion shows 131 On 4 June 1924 Vilnius Magistrate established a popular 1 200 seat movie theater in the city hall which in Polish was called Miejski kinematograf English City Movie Theater The purpose of this cinema was to provide cultural education for students and adults The popularity of this cinema is evidenced by the numbers of viewers in 1926 502 261 tickets were sold 24 242 tickets were given free to boarding children 778 to Vilnius guests and 8385 to soldiers In 1939 the Lithuanian authorities renamed it to Milda In 1940 the last city government handed over the premises to the People s Commissariat of Education which established the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society there 132 In 1965 the most modern movie theater in Lithuania called Lietuva was opened in Vilnius which annually had over 1 84 million visitors and profit of over 1 million Soviet rubles After the reconstruction it had one of the largest screens in Europe 200 square metres 132 Though it was closed in 2002 demolished in 2017 and the MO Museum was built instead of it 133 Vilnius Film Festival Kino Pavasaris is the biggest and most important cinema event in Lithuania with international guests and thousands of visitors 134 Lithuanian Film Centre Lithuanian Lietuvos kino centras which main task is to promote the development and competitiveness of the Lithuanian film industry headquarters are in Vilnius 135 Music Edit See also Music of Lithuania Libretto of the first opera staged in Vilnius 1636 which overtook the first operas in Paris 1645 and London 1656 136 Musicians were presented at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania as early as the 14th century as Grand Duke Gediminas daughter Aldona of Lithuania already was a large sympathizer of music and took court musicians singers with her to Krakow after marrying King Casimir III the Great 137 In the 16th century Vilnius for some time in their lives was a hometown of composer Waclaw of Szamotuly lutenist virtuoso Balint Bakfark composer Jan Brant The first textbook of music in Lithuania The Art and Practice of Music Latin Ars et praxis musica was issued in Vilnius by Zygimantas Liauksminas in 1667 138 Italian artists organized the first opera in Lithuania on 4 September 1636 at the Palace of the Grand Dukes by the order of Grand Duke Wladyslaw IV Vasa 139 Operas are staged at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre and also by independent troupe Vilnius City Opera 140 The Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society is the largest and oldest state owned concert organization in Lithuania whose main activity is to organise and coordinate live concerts diverse classical classical contemporary jazz music events and tours throughout Lithuania and abroad 141 The Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra founded by Gintaras Rinkevicius every year builds up a wide ranging repertoire introduces exceptional programs and invites young talent to perform along with recognized soloists 142 Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival in Vingis Park In Lithuania choral music is very important Vilnius is the only city with three choirs laureates Brevis Jauna Muzika and Chamber Choir of the Conservatoire at the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing 143 There is a long standing tradition of the Dainu svente Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival Since 1990 the festival has been organised every four years and summons roughly 30 000 singers and folk dancers of various professional levels and age groups from across the country in Vingis Park 144 In 2008 Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival together with its Latvian and Estonian versions was inscribed as UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity 145 Andrius Mamontovas leader of Foje and founder of the annual Gatves muzikos diena Street Music Day Jazz scene was active even during the years of Soviet occupation The real breakthrough would occur in 1970 71 with the coming together of the Ganelin Tarasov Chekasin trio the alleged instigators of the Vilnius Jazz School 146 Most known annual event of jazz in the city is the Vilnius Jazz Festival Gatves muzikos diena Street Music Day gathers musicians of various genres annually in the streets of Vilnius 147 Vilnius is the birthplace of many prominent music personalities singers e g Mariana Korvelyte Moravskiene Paulina Rivoli Danielius Dolskis Vytautas Kernagis Algirdas Kauspedas Andrius Mamontovas Nomeda Kazlaus Asmik Grigorian composers e g Cesar Cui Felix Yaniewicz Maximilian Steinberg Vytautas Miskinis Onute Narbutaite conductors e g Mirga Grazinyte Tyla musicians e g Antoni Radziwill Jascha Heifetz Clara Rockmore Romas Lileikis Vilnius was a hometown of such 18th century composers as Michal Kazimierz Oginski Johann David Holland colleague of C Bach Maciej Radziwill Michal Kleofas Oginski 19th century Vilnius was famous for such European scale performers as singer Kristina Gerhardi Frank a close friend of Mozart and Haydn performed the main part at the premiere of The Creation by the latter guitarist virtuoso Marek Konrad Sokolowski recognized as the best guitarist in Europe in the mid 19th century composer Stanislaw Moniuszko the father of Polish national opera The wealthiest woman in the early 19th century Vilnius was singer Maria de Neri In the early 20th century Vilnius was a hometown of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis Musicians of late 20th and early 21st centuries include Vyacheslav Ganelin Petras Vysniauskas Petras Geniusas Muza Rubackyte Alanas Chosnau Marijonas Mikutavicius Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre is headquartered in Gediminas Avenue and also has its department at the Slushko Palace in Antakalnis Many accomplished singers have lectured at the Academy including the internationally famous tenors Kipras Petrauskas and Virgilijus Noreika 148 Theatre Edit Page in Latin of theatre program dedicated to Algirdas 1687 once performed in Vilnius Lithuanian Grand Dukes entertainment at the castle ruler s visits abroad and the honorable guests arrival meetings etiquette had theatrical elements already since the 14th century e g musicians chapels of Gediminas and Wladyslaw II Jagiello During the period of Sigismund III Vasa s residence in Vilnius first half of the 17th century English professional drama actors troupes played in the royal manor In 1635 Wladyslaw IV Vasa established a professional opera theatre in the Lower Castle where dramma per musica genre productions were performed with operas librettos being written by Italian Virgilio Puccitelli The performances were characterized by fundamental luxurious scenography 149 Between the 16th and 18th centuries there was a Jesuit s School Theatre in Lithuania In 1570 the first performance was shown in Vilnius comedy Hercules by S Tucci Baroque aesthetics prevailed in the Jesuit s School Theatre but it also had Middle Ages retrospectives Renaissance elements Rococo motifs and served an educational function The performances were played in Latin however elements of the Lithuanian language were also included in intermediates and prologues and some of the works were Lithuanian themed e g plays dedicated to Algirdas Mindaugas Vytautas and other rulers of Lithuania 150 151 In 1785 Wojciech Boguslawski established the city s first public theatre Vilnius City Theatre The theatre was initially located in the Oskierka Palace but later moved to the Radziwill Palace and the Vilnius Town Hall Until 1845 the plays were performed in Polish from 1845 in Polish and Russian and from 1864 only in Russian After the ban on the Lithuanian language was lifted the plays were also performed in Lithuanian The theatre ceased to exist in 1914 152 Lithuanian National Drama Theatre During the interwar then part of Poland Vilnius was famous for the most modern in the region experimental Reduta troupe and institute led by Juliusz Osterwa 153 In Vilnius and the Vilnius Region the performances by the Vilnius Lithuanian Stage Amateur Company Lithuanian Vilniaus lietuviu scenos megeju kuopa established in 1930 later it was renamed to Vilnius s Lithuanian Theatre professional theatre Vaidila were shown In 1945 it was merged to the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre 151 After the USSR occupation of Lithuania in 1940 theatre became one of the means of disseminating the Soviet ideology and censorship of repertoires was introduced The performances incorporated the principles of socialist realism and a number of revolutionary plays were staged by the Russian authors A Repertory Commission was established under the Ministry of Culture to direct theatres control their repertoires grant permissions to perform or ban performances Socialist realism was the only recognized direction 151 After the restoration of independence of Lithuania theatre changed cardinally and sought to recreate a broken dialogue with spectators 151 Vilnius City Opera an independent opera theatre in Vilnius blends classical with contemporary art While the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre State Small Theatre of Vilnius State Youth Theatre and a number of private theatre companies including OKT Vilnius City Theatre Anzelika Cholina Dance Theatre and others show classical modern and Lithuanian playwriting directed by world known Lithuanian and foreign directors There also is a Russian language theatre Russian Drama Theatre of Lithuania 154 Photography Edit Coronal mass ejection captured in 1867 with Vilnius photoheliograph which was only the second such device in the entire world The beginning of Lithuanian photography is considered to be the daguerreotyping of the reconstructed Verkiai Palace which was performed in the summer of 1839 by Francois Marcillac the governor of the children of Duke Ludwig Wittgenstein this fact is mentioned in the memoirs of architect Boleslaw Podczaszynski published in January 1853 in the Gazeta Warszawska newspaper 155 The unfavorable political situation in the country led to the slow development of new technology and cultural activities The first known daguerreotype portrait atelier in Vilnius was opened in 1843 by C Ziegler such ateliers operated in Lithuania until 1859 One of the most famous photographers was K Neupert who came from Norway since 1851 he worked in Vilnius and Druskininkai 155 In the 1860s with the spread of negative and positive collodion technology glass negatives and albumen paper were used instead of daguerreotype plates photo portraits of standardized formats became widespread and commercial photography ateliers were established in Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities The first landscape and architectural photographs were created by Vilnius photographers Abdonas Korzonas and Albert Swieykowski who compiled the first set of photographs in Lithuania the Vilnius Album 32 images In 1862 the Provisional Censorship Regulations were adopted which determined the activities of photographic institutions they were supervised by the Central Press Board of the Ministry of the Interior Photographers ateliers 4 of 9 who participated in the January Uprising and photographed the rebels were closed their images were annihilated and the authors were punished e g A Korzonas was deported to Siberia Other prominent photographers of the 19th century were Stanislaw Filibert Fleury one of the pioneers of stereoscopic photography 156 Aleksander Wladyslaw Strauss Jozef Czechowicz 155 One of the most important facts about the use of photography for scientific purposes is the second photoheliograph in the world after London installed in 1865 at the Vilnius University Astronomical Observatory which was used to observe and photograph the sunspots 155 Since 1868 for the first time in the world a systematic photographic service of sunspots dynamics was launched in Vilnius 157 In 1927 Jan Bulhak in Vilnius established the first photography club in the present territory of Lithuania 158 In 1952 the editorial office of Svyturys magazine organized the first photography exhibition in Vilnius the main object of which was photography itself 16 photographers participated 155 Crafts Edit The Great Monstrance made in Vilnius 1535 ordered by Albertas Gostautas is one of the largest in Central Europe 159 Reverse of Sigismund III Vasa s gold coin of 10 Lithuanian Ducat struck in the Vilnius Mint in 1616 with the Coat of arms of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth and bearing the privy marks of Hieronim Wollowicz Grand Treasurer of Lithuania Iron tools weapons brass glass and silver jewelry have been produced in the present territory of Lithuania since the 1st century 160 Later pottery and production of wood products became widespread and weaving in the 2nd and 4th centuries During the period of feudalism home crafts were the most significant in the conditions of subsistence economy In the 13th and 14th centuries the separation of crafts from agriculture accelerated crafts have become an independent branch of the economy The Grand Dukes of Lithuania promoted the development of crafts in cities Weaving shoemaking fur making and other crafts predominated With the introduction of foreign artisans early 14th century the development of crafts accelerated even further The development of crafts and trade stimulated the growth of Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities In the 14th and 15th centuries crafts were already highly specialized especially in the production of tools household items fabrics clothing weapons and jewelry and at the same time workshops were established which trained and defended the interests of craftsmen In the 16th century the production of fine glassware began goldsmithing was developed and the level of pottery and weaving crafts rose The Statutes of Lithuania 1529 and 1588 editions mention 25 crafts 160 Prominent European goldsmiths worked in the Vilnius Goldsmiths Workshop established in 1495 which controlled the trade of precious metals gemstones and stood out for its wealth as it serviced the territory up to Daugava and Dnieper Rivers as well as the Catholic Church in Lithuania the manor of the Grand Duke nobility townspeople 161 No less important was the Vilnius Mint which was the main mint of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and minted the Lithuanian denarius shillings groschens thalers ducats and other coins from 1387 to 1666 162 In the second half of the 17th century due to the economic turmoil caused by the Russo Polish War crafts declined most of the goods were imported from abroad duty free by Szlachta Lithuanian and Polish nobles and sold on their holdings Crafts began to rise again in the second half of the 18th century to the first half of the 19th century and Vilnius was the largest Lithuanian craft center After the abolition of serfdom craft schools were established in the Lithuanian cities The growing industry begun to push crafts from some areas of food processing textiles and metalworking However crafts have long prevailed in clothing manufacturing goldsmithing wood food processing and other fields During the years of Soviet occupation craftsmen worked in artels until 1960 after their abolition in household service combines After the restoration of Lithuania s independence crafts complemented small and medium sized businesses 160 Language Edit Main article Lithuanian language Manuscript of the Constitution of 3 May 1791 in Lithuanian 163 Privilege to Vilnius Cathedral issued by Vytautas the Great in Vilnius on 16 February 1410 in Latin language As a historically multicultural capital many languages statuses changed over the centuries in the history of Vilnius The predominant language of public life in medieval Lithuania was Lithuanian It was spoken by people living in the ethnopolitical center of the state ethnic Lithuania including the ruler s manor and the most prominent Lithuanian nobility However the Lithuanian language had no literary traditions and was not used in writing except for the most important religious texts e g the Lord s and the Hail Mary prayers 164 125 Although the importance of the spoken Lithuanian language remained for centuries because it is known that even Vytautas the Great himself knew and spoke in the Lithuanian language with Wladyslaw II Jagiello whose son Casimir IV Jagiellon also spoke in the Lithuanian language 165 166 The word about the Lithuanian language spread wide as even the Byzantine Greek historian Laonikos Chalkokondyles in the 15th century knew that the Lithuanians had their own distinct language 167 The Ruthenian language was used in Lithuania and its capital Vilnius due to the incorporation of the Kievan Rus lands In colloquial form these dialects formed the basis of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian languages in the 19th century The written form of the Ruthenian language formed from the interaction of the ancient Slavic language with the local elements of the Ruthenian language Such a Ruthenian language became the main language of the Chancery of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 14th and 15th centuries and maintained its dominant position until the middle of the 17th century 164 168 Latin and Polish were also widely used in the Chancery of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania In the second part of the 17th century the Polish language ousted the Ruthenian language from the written sources and the Lithuanian language from most areas of the public life The first state documents in the Lithuanian language appeared in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania only at the very end of its existence e g Constitution of 3 May 1791 and the Great Sejm Lithuanian manuscripts Kosciuszko Uprising Lithuanian notes 164 In 1552 Grand Duke Sigismund II Augustus ordered that orders of the Magistrate of Vilnius be announced in Lithuanian Polish and Ruthenian languages 169 Minorities e g Lithuanian Jews Lipka Tatars Crimean Karaites were under the guardianship of the Grand Duke of Lithuania but their languages were only used among themselves and never gained a significant role The 2nd and 3rd Statutes of Lithuania consolidated Lithuanian Jews status as non Christian and common human non noble 170 According to the 14th article of the modern Constitution of Lithuania the Lithuanian language is the only official language in the state Therefore all the official procedures in Vilnius must be proceeded in the Lithuanian language however interpreter assistance is guaranteed by the state in some cases 171 Lithuanians speak on average of 2 7 languages and 97 3 of the population speaks at least one foreign language 172 Fashion Edit Janusz Radziwill left wearing zupan and kontush belt these along with kontusz were main attributes of the Lithuanian nobles and wealthy Vilnians Emerencjanna Pociej right in 1718 wife of Ludwik Pociej wearing the Western European style women s clothing which were popular in Vilnius already since the 18th century It is known that the Vilnians have enjoyed to expensively dress up since the Middle Ages According to historian Antanas Caplinskas even the merchants and craftsmen wives were wearing multiple rings decorated with gemstones e g with ruby and fourteen diamonds Those who did not dress up and did not followed the fashion trends were even ridiculed e g for wearing sheepskins for not wearing luxurious belts gloves or for not using handkerchiefs Property inventories of 16th 17th centuries often mention expensive clothing such as long wide sleeved jackets of precious materials known as kontusz and zupans decorated with lynx s or other animal fur also kontush belts 173 Special attention was paid to the buttons as in the list of one nobleman s property Caplinskas found 12 buttons with pearls and corals about 100 large buttons with diamonds plum shaped buttons decorated with enamel as well as buttons made from brilliants emeralds 173 Delias and dolmans were also popular among the townspeople and nobles 174 Wealthy townspeople decorated with luxurious clothing raised the envy of the Lithuanian nobility and the nobles demanded the adoption of laws limiting the clothing of the townspeople For the first time such restrictions were recorded in the Statute of Lithuania of 1588 according to which the townspeople were allowed to wear only two rings one of them was the seal while Jews were forbidden to adorn with gold chains and brooches though the Jewish women had more rights 173 Even wider restrictions were put in place by the Sejm of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth which adopted the Act of Thrift in 1613 according to which the non noble townspeople were forbidden to appear in public places dressed in expensive furs violators of the law were fined and the clothes were given to the complainants 173 The wealthy townspeople were not satisfied with such limitations therefore a subscription fee was introduced later which removed all limitations 173 The clothing trends changed in the late 18th century when almost all men already had shaved beards short haired hairstyles and began to wear trendy blue green or black tailcoats with open fronts and waistcoats matched with white or yellowish trousers 174 while the 18th century women s clothing fashion had almost no differences from the Western European fashion trends In the early 20th century the clothes were already in line with the Western European fashion trends and in 1961 clothing designers studies were launched in the State Art Institute of Lithuania also in the same year the Vilnius Model House was established which created and popularized unique and industrial apparel and footwear models made clothing presentations 175 Mados infekcija English Fashion Infection was launched in 1999 and is the biggest Lithuanian fashion show held every spring in Vilnius 176 Prominent Lithuanian clothing designer Juozas Statkevicius usually organizes his collections presentations in Vilnius 177 Holidays and festivals Edit Kaziuko muge is held annually in the city in honor of Saint Casimir As a result of centuries long Catholic traditions in Vilnius and Lithuania the Catholic holidays e g Christmas Easter Saint John s Eve are widely celebrated and employees have a days off 178 Every year on 16 February day of the Act of Independence of Lithuania and on 11 March day of the Act of the Re Establishment of the State of Lithuania festive events are organized in Vilnius with official ceremonies conducted by the heads of state and the holy masses of the Lithuanian Catholic Church in the Vilnius Cathedral 179 180 While in the evening of 12 January bonfires are ignited to mark the bloody January Events 181 Saint Casimir s Fair Lithuanian Kaziuko muge has been held annually for hundreds of years in the city s markets and streets on the Sunday nearest to 4 March Feast of St Casimir the anniversary of Saint Casimir s death It attracts tens of thousands of visitors and many Lithuanian and foreign craftsmen Easter palms Lithuanian Verbos are one of the most recognizable symbols of the fair 182 Capital s Days Lithuanian Sostines dienos is the biggest festival of music and culture held in the city annually for three days from 30 August to 1 September 183 Although it is not a national holiday the Vilnia River is dyed green every year for Saint Patrick s Day 184 During the annual Vilnius Culture Night various artists and cultural organisations hold events and performances all over the city 185 Administration EditCity government Edit See also Voivode of Vilnius and Mayor of Vilnius Krzysztof Mikolaj Perkunas Radziwill Voivode of Vilnius from 1584 to 1603 Due to his prominent victories versus Ivan the Terrible s troops during the Livonian War he was nicknamed the Thunderbolt Perkunas Before the Magdeburg rights were granted to Vilnius in 1378 the city was overseen by the ruler s vicegerents Later these duties were granted to a magistrate or a City Council subordinate only to the ruler himself During wars when the city was in a danger the city was led by a Voivode of Vilnius 186 The magisterial authority was headquartered at the Vilnius Town Hall 187 Vilnius Town Hall reconstructed in neoclassical style according to the design by Laurynas Gucevicius in 1799 Vilnius Magistrate was responsible for the city economy was collecting taxes taking care of the city treasury was accumulating stocks of grain in order to avoid residents starvation in case of famine or wars He also acted as a notary in transactions testaments and as a judge during the city residents conflicts that involved new buildings constructions and reconstructions His other function was taking care of the city craftsmen From the beginning statutes of workshops were approved by the ruler himself Later Sigismund II Augustus granted this privilege to the city magistrates in 1552 Since the 1522 privilege by Sigismund I the Old Vilnius Magistrates had the responsibility to protect the city and its resident s tranquility by having 24 armed guards During war times the night watch was performed by three jurisdictions magistrate bishop and castle men 186 188 Chief City Administrator was vaitas a Grand Duke of Lithuania vicegerent in the city 189 Most of them were beginning their careers in the magistracy before obtaining such a position All vaitai were Catholics Vaitas was chairing during the City Council meetings His competence also included criminal cases and he had the right to impose a death penalty At first he examined the cases alone however since the 16th century two suolininkai also examined important cases if the lawsuit was over 10 groschen together with the vaitas In the 16th century Vilnius City Council consisted of 12 burgomasters and 24 councilors half of them were Catholics the other half were orthodoxes There were no direct elections to the City Council and members to the council were chosen by the wealthy townspeople merchants workshops seniors Burgomasters were being chosen until their deaths In case of death another member of the council was being chosen of the same religion In 1536 Sigismund I the Old signed a privilege which regulated the magistracy formation principles that prohibited to choose close relatives to the council and all the new taxes obligations and regulations required the prior agreement of the townspeople 186 Vilnius City Municipality Building in Konstitucijos Avenue housing the city s municipal council and administration Under the Russian Empire the City Council was replaced with a City Duma 190 The city was the capital of the Lithuania Governorate in 1797 1801 Vilna Governorate General in 1794 1912 and Vilna Governorate in 1795 1915 191 192 After the Soviet occupation of Lithuania Vilnius became a republican subordinate city and capital of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic 190 The current Vilnius City Municipal Council was established in 1990 190 The Vilnius City Municipality is one of 60 municipalities of Lithuania and includes the nearby town of Grigiskes three villages and some rural areas 193 The town of Grigiskes was separated from the Trakai District Municipality and attached to the Vilnius City Municipality in 2000 A 50 member council is elected to four year terms the candidates are nominated by registered political parties and committees 194 As of the 2011 elections independent candidates also were permitted 195 The last election was held in March 2019 and the results were Public Election Committee R Simasius Team For Vilnius which we are proud of 17 seats A Zuokas and Vilnius Citizens Coalition Happy Vilnius 10 seats Homeland Union Lithuanian Christian Democrats 9 seats the coalition of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and Russians Alliance Christian Families Alliance 6 seats Labour Party 5 seats Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union 3 seats 194 196 Before 2015 mayors were appointed by the council 197 Starting with the elections in 2015 the mayors are elected directly in a two round system by voters registered in the municipality 197 Remigijus Simasius became the first directly elected mayor of the city 198 Subdivisions Edit Elderships a statewide administrative division function as municipal districts The 21 elderships are based on neighbourhoods Map of Vilnius elderships Numbers on the map correspond with numbers in the list Verkiai includes Baltupiai Jeruzale Santariskes Balsiai Visoriai Antakalnis includes Valakampiai Turniskes Dvarcionys Pasilaiciai includes Tarande Fabijoniskes includes Bajorai Pilaite Justiniskes Virsuliskes Seskine Snipiskes Zirmunai includes Siaures miestelis Karoliniskes Zverynas Grigiskes a separate town Lazdynai Vilkpede includes Vingis Park Naujamiestis includes bus and train stations Senamiestis Old Town includes Uzupis Naujoji Vilnia includes Pavilnys Puckoriai Paneriai includes Traku Voke Gariunai Naujininkai includes Kirtimai Salininkai Vilnius International Airport Rasos includes Belmontas Markuciai 193 District municipality Edit Further information Vilnius District Municipality Medininkai Castle built in the first half of the 14th century It is the largest enclosure type defensive castle in Lithuania and one of the primary landmarks of the Vilnius district 199 Vilnius District Municipality Lithuanian Vilniaus rajono savivaldybe is one of the largest municipalities in Lithuania It occupies 2129 square kilometres and has 23 civil parishes There are 1163 villages and 5 towns Nemencine Bezdonys Maisiagala Mickunai and Sumskas in the district Vilnius district surrounds the Lithuania s capital and has developed public business rural infrastructure and offers high standard of living with clean environment Vilnius district borders with the Republic of Belarus and neighbours with Svencionys Moletai Sirvintos Elektrenai Trakai and Salcininkai districts 200 Vilnius district has a multinational population of which 52 are Poles 33 are Lithuanians and the rest of 16 are Russians Belarusians and other nationalities residents e g Ukrainians Lipka Tatars Jews Vilnius district has over 100 000 residents Most of the population 95 live in villages and 5 live in towns 200 Vilnius district has the highest terrains of Lithuania Aukstojas Juozapine and Kruopine Hills which are raised over 290 metres above sea level and are considered very high in the country s flatlands 200 Palm Sunday is widely celebrated in the district and the unique and colorful Vilnius Easter palms verbos are made there from dried flowers and herbs 201 The tradition of making Vilnius palms is dated to the times of St Casimir who is a patron saint of Lithuania and Lithuanian youth 200 Medininkai Castle Liubavas Manor mill and Bareikiskes Manor are the most famous historical landmarks of the district 200 Vilnius Voivodeship from 1769 surrounded a completely independent microstate Republic of Paulava known for its Age of Enlightenment values with its own president peasants parliament army and laws 202 As a result of its large Polish population Vilnius District Municipality Council mostly consists from members of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania 203 Lithuanian Pole Marija Rekst is a long term mayor of the district 204 National government Edit Seimas Palace in Vilnius where the parliamentarians of Lithuania convenes As the capital of Lithuania Vilnius is the seat of Lithuania s national government For the executive the two chief officers of Lithuania have their offices in Vilnius The President of the Republic of Lithuania resides at the Presidential Palace in Daukanto Square 205 while the Prime Minister s seat is at the Government of Lithuania office in Gediminas Avenue 206 According to the Law of the President of the Republic of Lithuania the President of the Republic has a residence in Vilnius that is located in Turniskes district near Neris river 207 208 Prime Minister also has a right to a residence in Turniskes district during term in office 209 Government ministries are located in various parts of the city many are located in Vilnius Old Town 210 Historically the Seimas of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania mostly gathered in Vilnius 211 The present day Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania is also located in Vilnius and meets at the Seimas Palace in Gediminas Avenue 212 Lithuania s highest courts are located in Vilnius The Supreme Court of Lithuania Lithuanian Lietuvos Auksciausiasis Teismas the highest court in the judicial order which reviews criminal and civil cases is located in the Gyneju Street 213 while the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania Lithuanian Lietuvos vyriausiasis administracinis teismas which acts as the highest court in the administrative order judging litigation against public bodies is located in the Zygimantu Street 214 The Constitutional Court of Lithuania Lithuanian Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucinis Teismas an advisory body with ultimate authority on the constitutionality of laws meets in the Constitutional Court s Palace in Gediminas Avenue 215 The Lithuanian Tribunal the highest appeal court for the nobility of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was established by Stephen Bathory Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland in 1581 It was located in Vilnius until the Third Partition of Poland in 1795 216 Special services Edit Lithuanian Police officer patrolling with a Segway Emergency Response Center in Antakalnis which deals with the emergency calls in Vilnius The security of Vilnius is mainly the responsibility of the Vilniaus apskrities vyriausiasis policijos komisariatas the highest police office in the city and local police offices Its main responsibilities are ensuring public order and public safety disclosure and investigation of criminal offenses and traffic safety supervision 217 In 2016 there were 1500 police officers in Vilnius 218 Public Security Service is responsible for the prompt restoration of public order in extreme and special situations and ensure proper protection of important state objects and escorted subjects 219 Vilniaus apskrities priesgaisrine gelbejimo valdyba is the primary governing body of the Vilnius s firefighters forces 220 In the first 9 months of 2018 there were 1287 fire incidents in the city of Vilnius during which 6 people died and 16 were traumatized 221 Vilniaus greitosios medicinos pagalbos stotis is responsible for emergency medical services in the city and can be contacted directly by calling a short number 033 222 It is one of the oldest emergency medical services institution in Eastern Europe and was established already in 1902 223 Large part of this institution doctors and other personnel were awarded with medals for their assistance to victims during the January Events in 1991 223 Major number for contacting all the special services in Vilnius and other regions of Lithuania is 112 224 Cityscape Edit Panorama of the Vilnius Old Town as seen from the Gediminas Tower at dusk Vilnius has one of the largest and best preserved old town in Northern Eastern and Central Europe 225 226 Its skyline is dominated by towers of the ancient churches dating to the times when Vilnius was capital of the Europe s largest state Grand Duchy of Lithuania 227 Urbanism and architecture Edit St Anne s Church and the Church of St Francis and St Bernard are an outstanding examples of Gothic architecture in Lithuania Church of St Peter and St Paul is a Baroque architecture masterpiece It was funded by Michal Kazimierz Pac commemorating a victory over the Muscovites and their expulsion from Vilnius after six years of occupation The Old Town of Vilnius is the historical centre of Vilnius about 3 6 km2 1 4 sq mi in size Its history begins from the Neolithic period During it the glacial hills were intermittently occupied and a wooden castle at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers was built around 1000 AD to fortify Gedimino Hill The settlement developed into a town in the 13th century when the pagan Baltic people were invaded by the Westerners during the Lithuanian Crusade Around 1323 when the first written sources about Vilnia occurred it was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania which was formed from various cultures and nationalities residents At this time it only had some brick structures By the 15th century the Grand Duchy of Lithuania had become one of the most powerful and the largest country in Europe with its territory stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea mostly present day Belarus Ukraine and Russia lands The historic centre consists of three castles territories Upper Lower and Curved and the area that was previously encircled by a Wall of Vilnius Its plan is mostly circular with its center in the original castle site The streets pattern is medieval and has small narrow streets however large squares were also developed in later periods 225 Pilies Street the main artery links the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania with Vilnius Town Hall Other streets meander through the palaces of feudal lords and landlords churches shops and craftsmen s workrooms The historic buildings are in Gothic e g Church of St Anne 228 Renaissance e g Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania 229 Baroque e g Church of St Peter and St Paul with over 2 000 stucco figures interior Vilnius University s main campus which features 13 courtyards framed by 15th century buildings and splashed with 300 year old frescoes and the Church of St Johns 230 and Classical styles e g Vilnius Cathedral Vilnius Town Hall Suazeliai Palace Verkiai Palace 231 with splendid exteriors and interiors The variety of preserved churches and former palaces of the Lithuanian nobility especially constitutes the Vilnius multicultural heritage 225 232 As a capital of the massive state Lithuanians shaped the development of its outstanding capital together with other nations Vilnius development was influenced by the West and East ideologies Christianity has dominated in Lithuania since the Christianization of Lithuania in 1387 however Orthodoxy of the state s eastern residents and the growing importance of Judaism led to exemplary material manifestations of these religious communities e g Orthodox Cathedral of the Theotokos Great Synagogue of Vilna 225 The 17th century Chapel of Saint Casimir a patron saint of Lithuania and its youth in the Cathedral of Vilnius Various disasters resulted in reconstructions of the Vilnius buildings in the School of Vilnius Baroque style which later left an imprint in the whole Grand Duchy of Lithuania 225 Talented artists e g Matteo Castelli Pietro Perti from the present day Canton of Ticino were particularly preferred by the Grand Duke of Lithuania and local nobility and developed many famous objects in the city e g Chapel of Saint Casimir 233 Lithuanian Laurynas Gucevicius left a huge mark in the Classical style architecture of Vilnius 234 Vilnius Old Town was inscribed to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1994 The inscribed property has an extension of 352 ha Vilnius Historic Centre is particularly noted for maintaining the medieval streets pattern without any significant gaps However some places were damaged during Lithuania s occupations and wars including the Cathedral Square that covers the foundations of the Royal Palace demolished after the 3rd partition of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795 a square in the east from the Church of All Saints where the Convent of the Barefoot Carmelites previously stood alongside a Vice Chancellor Stefan Pac s established Baroque Church of St Joseph the Betrothed both demolished by the tsar s order Great Synagogue and part of the buildings in the Vokieciu Street German Deutsche Gasse were demolished after World War II 225 Vilnius occupies an area of 401 square kilometers of which only one fifth is developed and the remainder is green belt and water For this reason Vilnius is often referred to as one of the greenest capital cities in Europe 235 Crypts Edit The crypts of Vilnius Cathedral are a place where prominent figures of Lithuania and the Catholic Church are buried At the Royal Mausoleum Grand Duke Alexander Jagiellon Queen Elizabeth of Austria Barbara Radziwill heart of the Grand Duke Wladyslaw IV Vasa are buried These crypts also have one of the oldest frescos in Lithuania painted in the late 14th or early 15th century and dating to the times of the Christianization of Lithuania 236 Housing Edit Vilnius Old Town apartments offers views to the most notable landmarks of the city and a medieval atmosphere Vilnius Old Town Lithuanian Vilniaus senamiestis with medieval stone paved streets and Uzupis offers one of the most prestigious housing in Vilnius Many old town apartment buildings there offers direct views to the iconic churches or the biggest landmarks of the city e g especially desired Gediminas Tower enclosed inner courtyards high ceilings attics non standard layouts and luxurious historic interiors 237 Most expensive flats in these neighbourhoods may cost millions of euros and are accessible only to the wealthiest residents of the city 238 However such problems as traffic jams expensive car parking spaces air pollution high costs of maintenance limitations for reconstructions repels rich Vilnians from living in these neighbourhoods who often buy or build private houses in more distant parts of Vilnius Balsiai Bajorai Pavilnys Kalnenai Pilaite and others or nearby areas of the Vilnius District Municipality 237 About 21 000 residents live in the old town and 7 000 in Uzupis 239 Part of Valakampiai neighborhood in Antakalnis eldership by the Neris River as seen from Verkiai Palace Helios City complex in Naujamiestis with shopping mall and apartments Valakampiai and Turniskes are the city s most prestigious places with private houses quarters as plots there are sufficiently large surrounded with the greenery pines forests and are easily accessible from the city centre Generally exceptionally wealthy residents and heads of the state e g presidents live there and most of the larger private houses costs millions of euros 237 240 Part of the Zverynas neighbourhood also offers luxurious private houses with plots close to the Vingis Park but it also has the Soviet era apartment buildings poor condition wooden houses higher number of residents 12 200 239 237 Neighbourhoods around the old town Antakalnis Zirmunai Naujamiestis Zverynas offer a wide variety prices flats decent amount of greenery suitable for walks bicycle roads and therefore are the most popular among the middle class residents Wealthier communities are living in a new construction apartments or renovated Soviet era apartments 237 The Government of Lithuania strongly supports the renovation process and compensates 30 or more of the cost 241 However poorer inhabitants and low income pensioners are often stopping the process adding to overall regionalistic policies of the politicians 242 243 More distant neighbourhoods e g Lazdynai Karoliniskes Virsuliskes Seskine Justiniskes Pasilaiciai Fabijoniskes Naujininkai are offering significantly cheaper flats Their biggest disadvantages together with a more difficult communication with the city centre are mostly not renovated Soviet era high rise buildings worn out surroundings large traffic jams on the streets connecting with the city centre during the rush hours and a constant lack of car parking spaces near older apartments 237 244 Snipiskes eldership has received a significant amount of investment during the 2010s The area was first mentioned in the Vilnius s historical documents in 1536 when the Grand Duke Sigismund I the Old ordered Ulrich Hosius to build a wooden bridge over the Neris river Soon around the bridge a suburb began to develop In the 16th a palace dedicated to the Muscovites and Tatars messengers was built by the magistrate of Vilnius to the north of Snipiskes as during their visits they acted noisily and the townspeople did not want them around 245 In the 18th century a Jesuit s Church of St Raphael the Archangel and monastery as well as solid palaces of the rich and multi story brick houses of ordinary townspeople were built in Snipiskes On the other hand the outskirts of this suburb were inhabited by the craftsmen the glass makers brick makers pottery makers Smoking pipe factory sawmills and even a tiny candy factory emerged A small part of the territory 8 ha of Snipiskes west of the Kalvariju market called Skansenas 246 occupied mostly by poor condition wooden houses emerged in the late 19th century Surprisingly it survived to this day and is now still underdeveloped territory protected by the state Next to it then luxurious quarter of bankers Piromontas 247 was built in the 1890s is architectural heritage too Snipiskes in the 19th century with the Chapel of Jesus of Snipiskes During the 1960s the Snipiskes area was named the new city center the first city pedestrian zone organized and before the 1990 a number of buildings including the largest shopping center in what was then Lithuanian SSR the highest and the largest hotel planetarium museum of Revolution Pioneer s Palace as well as number of ministries of the Lithuanian SSR were built 248 249 250 251 252 However the broader territory of Snipiskes stretching to the north of what is now Konstitucijos Avenue remained mainly underdeveloped until the early 2000s when the new Vilnius city municipality building was built in the area that inspired transformation of the surroundings the new Europa square formed with a new shopping center Europa 33 story Europa business tower and 27 story Europa apartment building Former Museum of Revolution was reconstructed to the National Art Gallery in the late 2000s Since then skyscrapers and expensive commercial offices are being built constantly in the area It already has almost 0 5 million square meters of real estate 253 A Japanese garden will be completed in the area till 2020 254 In 2019 average price for 1 m2 11 sq ft of flat was around 2 000 euros and around 1 200 euros for 1 m2 11 sq ft of a private house in Vilnius while the rent prices were 10 m2 for flats and 8 m2 for private houses respectively 255 According to the economists number of transactions and housing affordability index has reached record highs in 2019 because of the significant rise in Vilnius residents incomes and slowing of the flats prices rising 256 Despite that according to a research one fourth of the 26 35 years old inhabitants are still living in their parents or relatives owned homes which is the highest number in the Baltic states however it is likely that large part of these young people are simply saving for their own homes or the initial contribution because statistics traditionally shows that Lithuanians purchases their homes with less borrowed funds than Latvians or Estonians 257 Demographics EditMain article Demographics of Vilnius Grand Duke Sigismund II Augustus a direct offspring of Gediminas by the male line 258 and Grand Duchess Barbara Radziwill in Vilnius The city prospered during his reign and the Golden Age Vilnius has thousands of years of demographics history as in the eldership of Vilkpede the remains of the Magdalenian culture settlement were found which are dated to around 10 000 years BC In the first 1 000 years AD there were large settlements in Kairenai Puckoriai and Naujoji Vilnia 22 The most densely populated area was the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia Rivers which also had fortified homesteads 22 Later Vilnius was part of the Kingdom of Lithuania territory however King Mindaugas did not constantly reside in it despite building the first Catholic Church in Lithuania there on the occasion of his coronation 259 22 The city began to develop in the late 13th century during the reign of Grand Dukes Butvydas and Vytenis 21 Major growth of Vilnius as the centre and capital of the medieval state is attributed to the 14th century reign of Grand Duke Gediminas who invited knights merchants doctors craftspeople and others to come to the Grand Duchy to practice their trades and faith without restriction 22 Although the growth of Vilnius was limited at the time due to the brutal Teutonic Order attacks e g during their assault in 1390 around 14 000 Vilnians were killed and the Lithuanian Civil War of 1389 1392 22 Vilnius developed as a multicultural city In the 14th century sources it is mentioned that Vilnius consists of the Great Lithuanian city and Ruthenians city Until the 16th century the city was mostly inhabited by Lithuanians and Ruthenians however the German merchants artisans Jews since the 14th century later had their qahal till 1845 and the Tartars since 1397 also settled down in Vilnius In the 16th 17th centuries during Reformation and Counter Reformation the Polonophone population began to grow by the middle of the 17th century most writings were in Polish due to the Polonisation before the 16th century the number was only around 5 22 The city prospered during the Golden Age by being one of the main cities of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth and the residence of the Lithuanian nobility 260 261 However the city was severely devastated by fire in 1610 After the Battle of Vilnius in 1655 the city came under Russian control 1655 1661 Next after the Great Northern War the Swedish Empire controlled the city from 1702 to 1709 This occupation ended during the Great Northern War plague outbreak in 1709 It took the city more than 50 years to recover 22 Manifesto of the Uprising of 1794 in Lithuanian encouraging Lithuanians to defend Vilnius from falling under the Russian control The Grand Duchy s capital was nearly empty when the uprising failed and in 1795 the state was abolished after the Third Partition According to the first population census of the Commonwealth in 1790 the Vilnius Voivodeship without the Grodno County had a population of 718 571 residents while the Vilnius County had 105 896 residents the whole Grand Duchy after the Second Partition had a population of 1 333 493 then 262 Shortly after the city population decreased to just 17 500 residents in 1796 due to the fierce battles of the Vilnius uprising in 1794 which was the last attempt to save the Grand Duchy s capital from falling under the complete Russian control 22 31 Though after the rebels defeat Vilnius was incorporated into the Russian Empire and was its third largest city in the beginning of the 19th century 22 After a few decades of the Russian despotism Vilnius demographics were once again affected by the November Uprising in 1830 and the January Uprising in 1863 during which rebels attempts were made to restore the statehood 22 According to the Russian Empire Census of 1897 Vilnius had 154 532 residents and later grown to 205 300 residents in 1909 while the Vilna Governorate had 1 561 713 residents in 1897 263 264 During World War I thousands of Vilnians were forced to flee were killed or were taken to the forced labor camps consequently the city had only 128 500 residents in 1919 in total the present day Lithuania territory lost around 1 million residents 22 265 Vilnius recovered during the interwar period and had 209 442 residents in 1939 266 but due to World War II the number fell to 110 000 in 1944 22 Vilnius again grew in population by being the capital of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic according to the 1989 census it had 576 747 residents 22 Despite the fact that almost whole Lithuania suffered from a large emigration after the restoration of independence in 1990 the number of residents in Vilnius remained almost unchanged 542 287 in 2001 and began to steadily grow every year since 2006 to 580 020 residents as of 1 January 2020 22 267 Historic ethnic makeup Edit Historic ethnic makeup of Vilnius Year Lithuanians Poles Russians Jews Others Total1897 268 3 131 2 47 795 30 30 967 20 61 847 40 10 792 7 154 5321931 269 1 579 0 8 128 600 65 5 7 400 3 8 54 600 27 8 4 166 2 1 196 3451959 270 79 400 34 47 200 20 69 400 29 16 400 7 23 700 10 236 1002001 271 318 510 57 5 104 446 18 9 77 698 14 1 2 770 0 5 50 480 9 1 553 9042011 272 337 000 63 2 88 380 16 5 64 275 12 N A 45 976 8 6 535 631 Pagan Lithuanians worshipping a grass snake oak and holy fire From Olaus Magnus Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus History of the Northern People book 3 1555 Model of the Vilnius Castle Complex in the first half of the 17th century The Upper Castle which early wooden variants dates to the 10th century was partly destroyed during the Battle of Vilnius 1655 and was never rebuilt Around 1000 years AD the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers was densely populated by the Striped Ceramics culture which had a half a hectare fortified settlement on the Gediminas Hill 273 This culture tribes were common throughout present day Lithuania east of the Sventoji River and in the western part of Belarus The direct descendants of this culture are believed to be a Baltic tribe the Aukstaitians English Highlanders 273 According to a prominent researcher of Vilnius history Antanas Caplinskas who researched the surnames of Vilnius residents in the archive documents of the city the oldest surviving surnames of Vilnius residents are Lithuanian 273 Pagan Lithuanians mostly lived at the northern foot of Gediminas Hill and in the Crooked Castle 274 Later following the invitation of Grand Duke Gediminas merchants and craftsmen began to move to Vilnius from the cities of the German Hanseatic League France Italy and Spain and replaced the Lithuanian surnames with German Polish and Russian surnames 273 In the late 14th century during the reign of Grand Duke Algirdas Vilnius already had a Ruthenian quarter Latin Civitas Ruthenica in the present day Latako and Rusu Streets as the trade relations between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Ruthenian principalities were quite well developed therefore quite a few Ruthenian merchants lived there and the Ruthenian nobles had their residences in the quarter 273 274 275 The variety of nations in Vilnius was further increased by Grand Duke Vytautas the Great who introduced Litvak Jews Tatars and Crimean Karaites 276 After a few hundred years the number of locals in Vilnius was smaller than the number of newcomers 273 However according to an analysis of the tax registers of 1572 Lithuania proper had 850 000 residents of which 680 000 80 were ethnically Lithuanians 262 Beginning during the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth the Polish culture began to penetrate the city rapidly and soon the Polish language prevailed in the city even the Magistrate s documents were written in Polish until the November Uprising in 1831 273 After living for a while in Vilnius foreign merchants and artisans quickly assimilated and were Polonized 273 The majority of the Lithuanian nobles spoke the Polish language however they never considered themselves Poles and the Union of Lublin was only signed during the second attempt in 1569 with the agreement that both states will be sovereign entities within the Commonwealth and the forbidment for the Poles from the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland to buy land in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania 277 Their opinion did not change within the union and was confirmed again in the Reciprocal Guarantee of Two Nations in 1791 278 Multicultural Vilnians in 1915 The city was famous for its tolerance of various ethnicities till World War I 273 Over the centuries the composition of the population of Vilnius changed to become ethnically less Lithuanian 273 According to historian Vytautas Merkys the city lost a great deal of its old population during the brutal rampages of the Swedish and Russian armies in the 17th and 18th centuries and they were replaced by the newcomers however the Lithuanians also constantly inhabited in Vilnius 273 According to the Russian Empire Census of 1897 only 2 1 3200 residents identified themselves as Lithuanian speakers while the Poles 30 8 47 600 residents and the Jews 40 0 61 800 residents were the largest ethnic groups of the city 279 According to the Parish censuses of 1857 1858 the Lithuanian population remained significant in the Vilna Governorate and according to different authors was between 23 6 and 50 0 210 273 418 880 residents 263 Among the Szlachta nobility in Vilnius during the census of 1897 there were 5 301 46 3 local nobles and 6 403 54 7 newcomers of these 24 1 noble newcomers came from Vilna Governorate territories while the rest of newcomers nobles came to Vilnius from Grodno Governorate Minsk Governorate Vitebsk Governorate Kovno Governorate Vistula Land and other regions 280 Ethnic Lithuanian numbers in the city of Vilnius reached record lows in 1931 1600 residents 0 8 while Poles accounted for 65 9 128 600 residents following the 1922 annexation of Vilnius Region by Poland and the Lithuanians retreat from the region to the temporary capital of Kaunas 281 Following the Soviet Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty in 1939 Lithuania recovered the Vilnius Region and made efforts to Lithuanize Vilnius by the introduction of Lithuanian laws 282 Prime Minister Antanas Merkys once said that it was intended to make everybody think like Lithuanians First of all it was and still is necessary to comb out the foreign element from the Vilnius Region 282 The Lithuanian Government put into force a law according to which who on 12 July 1920 were regarded as Lithuanian nationals and on 27 October 1939 were resident in the territory became Lithuanian nationals this definition of citizenship was used to dismiss a large number of Polish civil servants and 150 000 Poles were later repatriated from the Lithuanian SSR 282 Almost the whole Jewish population was exterminated during the Holocaust in Lithuania 281 After World War II the number of ethnic Lithuanians in the city started recovering e g there already were 79 363 Lithuanians in 1959 who accounted for 33 6 of all residents in the city however the Lithuanization ideas were mostly replaced with the Sovietization of the population after the rigged election to the People s Seimas in 1940 281 270 Following the restoration of independence in 1990 the ethnic Lithuanian population in the city continued to grow and according to the 2011 census of Lithuania already reached 63 2 337 000 residents 272 Economy Edit Vilnius modern skyline at dusk with the new city centre Snipiskes in the middle in which the main banks financial services and businesses headquarters are located Europa Tower is the tallest building in the Baltic states and is one of the symbols of modern Vilnius and its economic growth Vilnius is the major economic centre of Lithuania The GDP per capita nominal in Vilnius county was 25 400 US 30 000 283 in 2019 making it the wealthiest region in Lithuania and the second wealthiest region in the Baltic states The budget of Vilnius reached 740 million in 2021 284 As of beginning of 2021 the average gross salary in Vilnius city municipality reached 1 797 per month or around 22 000 annual 285 Since 2010 employment and unemployment indicators have continuously been improving in Lithuania Employment reached a record high of 77 5 in the third quarter of 2018 while unemployment was 6 3 in the fourth quarter a rate last observed in 2008 Nevertheless this has to be seen in the context of a shrinking working age population The activity rate reached 82 in 2017 Vilnius and Kaunas counties offer better labour market opportunities than other counties and this drives the internal interregional migration However in other regions employment opportunities remain scarce Unemployment rates remained persistently high in the least developed regions 14 9 in Utena County as compared to 4 8 in Vilnius County Other key labour market indicators have improved returning to pre crisis levels Long term unemployment fell to 2 1 in the third quarter of 2018 EU average 2 9 Youth unemployment 13 3 and the rate of young people not in employment education or training NEET at 9 1 were below the EU average in 2017 286 K29 business centre is the first office in the Baltic states which received excellent BREEAM rating 287 Overall the share of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion AROPE has decreased since Lithuania joined the EU in 2004 However it remains among the highest in the EU 29 6 in 2017 compared to 22 4 in the EU The risk of poverty or social exclusion in rural areas is nearly double that of urban areas which corresponds to the gap in the unemployment rate between cities and rural areas 4 5 versus 11 in 2017 In particular the metropolitan areas of Vilnius and Kaunas where significant economic activity is centred drive a significant gap between AROPE rates in urban and rural areas In 2017 the AROPE rate in rural areas was 37 2 compared to 19 9 in cities 288 Over the past 15 years Lithuania has experienced the fastest convergence in the EU but the benefits of economic growth are uneven across regions Disparities among Lithuania s regions have steadily grown in this period While GDP per capita reached nearly 110 of the EU average in the capital region of Vilnius it is only between 42 and 77 in other regions The country s rapid convergence is mainly fuelled by two regions the capital region of Vilnius and Kaunas County producing 42 and 20 of the national GDP respectively In 2014 2016 these regions grew on average by 4 6 Vilnius and 3 3 Kaunas while the other regions which have a higher share of rural areas stagnated or were in recession 289 The supply of new housing in Vilnius and its suburbs the country s biggest real estate market has reached post crisis highs and the stock of unsold apartments in the three largest cities has started to increase since the beginning of 2017 The demand for housing is still strong fuelled by rapidly rising wages benign financial conditions and positive expectations In the first half of 2018 the number of monthly transactions was the highest since the 2007 2008 peak 290 Most foreign direct investment and productive public investment in Lithuania is concentrated around the two main economic development poles of Vilnius and Kaunas 291 Vilnius Industrial Park is located 18 5 kilometres from the city and its land is intended for commercial industrial use 292 Science and research Edit Vilnius University Astronomical Observatory est in 1753 is one of the oldest in Europe and was the first in the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth In 1675 Tito Livio Burattini lived in Vilnius and published a book Misura universale in which he suggested to use term metre for a unit of length for the first time 293 In 1753 on the initiative of Thomas Zebrowski the Vilnius University Astronomical Observatory was established which was among the first observatories in Europe and the first in the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth 294 Marcin Odlanicki Poczobutt led the reconstruction of the observatory in 1770 72 according to Marcin Knackfus project and made sure it was equipped with the latest astronomical instruments from 1773 he began constant astronomical observations which were recorded in the observation journals French Cahiers des observations and created a constellation Taurus Poniatovii 295 In 1781 Jean Emmanuel Gilibert established the Botanical Garden of Vilnius University with over 2000 plants he also provided the first herbariums collections of stuffed animals and birds fossil plants animal remains and a collection of minerals to the Vilnius University 296 After the Third Partition of the Commonwealth the observatory published the first exact sciences journal in the Russian Empire called the Journal of Mathematical Sciences Russian Vestnik matematicheskih nauk 157 Scientific centres and universities faculties in the Sunrise Valley Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park Lithuanian Sauletekio slenio mokslo ir technologiju parkas is a non profit organization founded in 2003 The park is the centre of entrepreneurship promotion of business and science collaboration provision of infrastructure and other innovation support Over 20 000 students study in the Vilnius University and Vilnius Gediminas Technical University facilities in the Sunrise Valley and 5 000 scientists performs their research in the corresponding science centres there 297 Centre for Physical Sciences and Technology Lithuanian Fiziniu ir technologijos mokslu centras or FTMC is the largest scientific research institution in Lithuania which specialises in laser technologies optoelectronics nuclear physics organic chemistry bio and nano technologies electrochemical material science electronics and other scientific fields The centre was created in 2010 by merging institutes of Chemistry Physics Semiconductor Physics in Vilnius and Textile institute in Kaunas 298 The centre features 250 laboratories 24 open to the public and can accommodate more than 700 researchers and students 299 Furthermore the centre also offers PhD Studies and annually helds FizTech conferences of PhD students and young researchers 300 FTMC is the founder and sole shareholder of the Science and Technology Park of Institute of Physics in Savanoriu Avenue which provides assistance to companies operating in research and development field 301 Laser Research Centre of Vilnius University Lithuanian Vilniaus universiteto Lazeriniu tyrimu centras is an open access centre mostly used by the Department of Quantum Electronics which prepares highly qualified physicists laser physicists and laser technology specialists The department carries out world class research in laser physics nonlinear optics optical component characterization biophotonics and laser microtechnology 302 Lithuania is one of the world s leaders in producing laser technologies and has over 50 of the world s market share in ultrashort pulses lasers which are produced by the Vilnius based companies 303 In 2019 they developed one of the world s most powerful laser system in the world SYLOS for the Extreme Light Infrastructure laboratory in Szeged which produces high intensity ultra short pulses with a peak power of up to a thousand times that of the most powerful nuclear power plant in the United States 303 Also Corning Inc has bought the licence for the state of the art glass cutting solutions from the Vilnius based laser company Altechna and uses it for manufacturing billions of Gorilla Glasses 304 Virginijus Siksnys is a prominent biochemist of the Vilnius University Vilnius University Life Sciences Centre Lithuanian Vilniaus universiteto Gyvybes mokslu centras is a scientific research centre which consists of three institutes Institute of Biochemistry Institute of Biosciences and Institute of Biotechnology The centre was opened in 2016 and has 900 students 120 PhD students and 250 scientific pedagogical staff that are able to use open access scientific laboratories equipped with the most advanced equipment there 305 Next to the main building there is a Technology Business Incubator for small and medium businesses in life sciences or related fields 306 Vilnius Gediminas Technical University has three research centres in the Sunrise Valley Civil Engineering Research Centre Technology Centre for Building Information and Digital Modelling Competence Centre of Intermodal Transport and Logistics 307 The Lithuanian Social Research Centre Lithuanian Lietuvos socialiniu tyrimu centras in A Gostauto St 9 analyzes the socio economic political and demographic processes and helps clients in public and private sectors The Centre closely cooperates with the Government of Lithuania 308 Santara Valley Lithuanian Santaros slenis is a second science and research valley in Vilnius which focuses on the medicine biopharmaceutical and bioinformatics areas 309 Vilnius University Faculty of Medicine Science Centre costing 37 1 million will be completed in the valley in 2021 310 Jonas Kubilius long term rector of the Vilnius University is known for works in Probabilistic number theory Kubilius model Theorem of Kubilius and Turan Kubilius inequality bear his name Jonas Kubilius successfully resisted attempts to Russify the Vilnius University 311 Vilnian Marija Gimbutas was the first to formulate the Kurgan hypothesis In 1963 Vytautas Straizys and his coworkers created Vilnius photometric system that is used in astronomy 312 Kavli Prize laureate Virginijus Siksnys is known for his discoveries in CRISPR field invention of CRISPR Cas9 gene editing 313 Information technology Edit The Green Hall business centre complex in Zverynas which houses IT companies and the Europe s first international Blockchain Centre Lithuania and its capital Vilnius is an attractive place for foreign companies to open their offices This is due to several main reasons highly qualified employees and good infrastructure 314 Several high schools are preparing skilled specialists in Vilnius most notably the Vilnius University Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics and Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Faculty of Fundamental Sciences 315 316 Sphere of the information technology is an attractive profession among the qualified professionals due to the high salaries in Vilnius e g Lithuanian branch of Google established in Vilnius offers 17 800 monthly salary which is one of the highest in Lithuania 317 In 2018 the annual output of the information technology sector in Lithuania was 2 296 billion of which a large amount was created in Vilnius 318 Vilnius Tech Park in Sapieha Park is the biggest information technology startup hub in the Baltic and Nordic countries and unites international startups technology companies accelerators incubators 319 In 2019 the fDi Intelligence an investment experts subdivision of the Financial Times ranked Vilnius as number one city in the Tech Start up FDI Attraction Index 320 In 2011 Vilnius had the fastest internet speed in the world 321 and despite the fall in the rankings in recent years it still remained as one of the fastest around the globe 322 Vilnius Airport also has one of the fastest wireless public internet Wi Fi among the European airports 323 The National Cyber Security Centre of Lithuania was established in Vilnius due increasing internet attacks against the Lithuanian Government organizations 324 Bebras is an international informatics and information technology contest which is held annually for pupils of 3 12 grades since 2004 325 Since 2017 computer programming is taught in the primary schools 326 Lithuania and especially its capital Vilnius is a popular fintech companies hub due to the state s flexible regulations in the e money licences field 327 In 2018 Bank of Lithuania granted an electronic money licence to the Google Payment Lithuania company based in Vilnius 328 Since 2018 prominent e money startup Revolut also has an e money licence and headquarters in Vilnius furthermore in 2019 it began to move its clients to the Lithuanian company Revolut Payments 329 On 23 January 2019 the Europe s first international Blockchain Centre was opened in Vilnius 330 Finance and banking Edit The Bank of Lithuania headquarters in Gediminas Avenue Vilnius is Lithuania s financial centre The Ministry of Finance is located in Vilnius and is responsible for the development and enforcement of an efficient public financial policy with a view to ensuring the macroeconomic stability of the state and its economic growth 331 The Bank of Lithuania is also headquartered in Vilnius and fosters a reliable financial system and ensures sustainable economic growth 332 Nasdaq Vilnius Stock Exchange a leading stock exchange in Lithuania is located in K29 business centre in Konstitucijos Avenue 333 The National Audit Office of Lithuania Lithuanian Lietuvos Respublikos valstybes kontrole is located in V Kudirka Street and helps the state to manage public funds and property wisely 334 While the State Tax Inspectorate Lithuanian Valstybine mokesciu inspekcija is headquartered in Vasario 16 osios Street and is responsible for collecting or refunding taxes in the country 335 At the time 7 banks in Lithuania are holding a bank or a specialised bank licence while 9 banks are carrying out their activities as foreign bank branches The two largest banks registered in Lithuania AB SEB bankas Swedbank AB are supervised directly by the European Central Bank jointly with Bank of Lithuania experts 336 The majority of the Lithuanian financial system consists of capital banks of the Nordic countries 337 Education EditTertiary education Edit The Grand Courtyard of Vilnius University and Church of St Johns On 14 October 1773 the Commission of National Education Lithuanian Edukacine komisija was created by the Sejm of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Grand Duke Stanislaw August Poniatowski which supervised the Vilnius University schools and was responsible for other educational matters in the Commonwealth Because of its vast authority and autonomy it is considered as the first Ministry of Education in European history and an important achievement of the Enlightenment in the Commonwealth 338 The city has many universities The largest and oldest is Vilnius University with 19 768 students 339 Its main premises are in the Old Town The university has been ranked among the top 500 universities in the world by QS World University Rankings 340 The university is participating in projects with UNESCO and NATO among others It features Masters programs in English and Russian 341 as well as programs delivered in cooperation with universities all over Europe The university is divided into 14 faculties 339 Other major universities include Mykolas Romeris University 7 500 students 342 Vilnius Gediminas Technical University 9 600 students 343 and Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences merged into Vytautas Magnus University in 2018 344 Specialized higher schools with university status include the General Jonas Zemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and the Vilnius Academy of Arts The museum associated with the Vilnius Academy of Arts holds about 12 000 artworks 345 There are also a few private universities such as ISM University of Management and Economics European Humanities University and Kazimieras Simonavicius University Several colleges are also in Vilnius including Vilnius College Vilnius College of Technologies and Design International School of Law and Business and others Primary and secondary education Edit National M K Ciurlionis School of Art is a prestigious art school offering free education to talented Lithuanians Primary and lower secondary education is mandatory in Lithuania Children must start attending pre primary education at six years old and education is compulsory until the age of 16 Primary and secondary education is free at all stages however there also are private schools with tuition fees in Vilnius The education system is governed by the Government of Lithuania and the Ministry of Education Science and Sports of Lithuania which headquarters are in Vilnius 346 Cathedral School of Vilnius first mentioned in 1397 is the earliest known Lithuanian school 22 Vilnius Vytautas the Great Gymnasium established in 1915 is the first Lithuanian gymnasium in Eastern Lithuania 347 In 2018 the city had 120 schools not including preschools with 61 123 pupils and 4 955 educators 348 Four out of five best rated schools in Lithuania are located in Vilnius while the Vilnius Lyceum is the number one 349 Ethnic minorities in Lithuania are allowed to have their own schools In Vilnius there are 7 elementary schools 8 primary schools 2 progymnasiums and 12 gymnasiums dedicated exceptionally for minorities children where lessons are conducted in minorities languages only In 2017 there were 4 658 Poles and 9 274 Russians who studied in their minorities languages in the city 350 Vilnius has 11 vocational schools which provides vocational education 351 National M K Ciurlionis School of Art is the only art school in Lithuania spanning the entire 12 year learning cycle Vilnius Justinas Vienozinskis Art School is another prominent art school in Vilnius Most of the school graduates in Vilnius later studies in the universities or colleges as Lithuania is one of the world s leading countries in OECD s statistics of population with tertiary education 56 of 25 34 year olds in 2018 352 Libraries Edit One of the 16th century Central Vilnius University Library reading rooms decorated in 1803 with the portraits of the 12 most prominent figures in antiquity art and science 353 The Central Library of Vilnius City Municipality Lithuanian Vilniaus miesto savivaldybes centrine biblioteka operates public libraries in Vilnius 354 It has 17 public libraries located in different elderships of Vilnius 2 of them libraries Saulute and Papartis are dedicated to children s literature only 355 Large part of these libraries organizes computer literacy courses that are free of charge 356 Usage of public libraries requires a free LIBIS integrated information system of Lithuanian libraries card 357 Martynas Mazvydas National Library of Lithuania Lithuanian Lietuvos nacionaline Martyno Mazvydo biblioteka located in Gediminas Avenue and founded in 1919 is a national cultural institution which collects organizes and preserves Lithuania s written cultural heritage content develops the collection of Lithuanian and foreign documents relevant to research educational and cultural needs of Lithuania and provides library information services to the public 358 As of 1 July 2019 its electronic catalog has 1 140 708 bibliographic records 359 The Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences Lithuanian Lietuvos mokslu akademijos Vrublevskiu biblioteka is a scientific library of state significance a cultural scientific and educational institution Its founder is the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences All citizens of Lithuania and foreign countries are entitled to use the services of the Library 360 As of 1 January 2015 the stock of the Library counted 3 733 514 volumes On 1 January 2015 the Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences had 12 274 registered users 360 Every Lithuanian university and college has its own library dedicated to their students professors and alumni The most notable modern university library is the National Open Access Scientific Communication and Information Center of Vilnius University Lithuanian Vilniaus universiteto bibliotekos Mokslines komunikacijos ir informacijos centras in Sauletekis Valley which was opened in 2013 and offers over 800 workplaces in total area of 14 043 61 m2 151 164 2 sq ft 361 362 Central Vilnius University Library 363 Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Library Mykolas Romeris University Library ISM University of Management and Economics Library European Humanities University Library Kazimieras Simonavicius University Library are located in these universities complexes in Vilnius 364 Religion EditSee also List of churches in Vilnius Religious groups in Vilnius 2011 census 365 Religion People Roman Catholic 350 797 65 5 Eastern Orthodox 47 827 8 9 Old Believers 5 593 1 0 Evangelical Lutheran 1 594 0 3 Evangelical Reformed 1 186 0 2 Sunni Muslim 798 0 2 Jewish 796 0 2 Greek Catholic 167 lt 0 1 Karaites 139 lt 0 1 Other 5 050 0 9 None 47 655 8 9 No response 74 029 13 8 Church of St Casimir the first Baroque church in Vilnius known for excellent acoustics and organ concerts with renowned international musicians Orthodox Cathedral of the Theotokos built in the 14th century by Grand Duke Algirdas for newcomers Ruthenians in the Ruthenian quarter of Vilnius Latin Civitas Ruthenica Already in the 17th century Vilnius was known as a city of many religions In 1600 Samuel Lewkenor s book describing cities with universities was published in London 366 Lewkenor mentions that citizens of Vilnius included Catholics Orthodox followers of John Calvin and Martin Luther Jews and Tartar Muslims Throughout the 17th century Vilnius had a reputation as a city which had no rivals in Europe in the number of churches of different confessions At the end of the century this reputation was confirmed by the highly regarded and several times republished work by Robert Morden Geography Rectified or a Description of the World which said that no other city in the world could surpass Vilnius in the number of churches and temples of various faiths except perhaps Amsterdam 367 368 Today Vilnius is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vilnius with the main church institutions and Archdiocesan Cathedral Vilnius Cathedral located here Numerous Christian Beatified persons martyrs Servants of God and Saints are associated with Vilnius These among others include Franciscan martyrs of Vilnius Orthodox martyrs Anthony John and Eustathius Saint Casimir Josaphat Kuntsevych Andrew Bobola Raphael Kalinowski Faustina Kowalska Jurgis Matulaitis Matulevicius There are a number of other active Roman Catholic churches in the city along with small enclosed monasteries and religion schools Church architecture includes Gothic Renaissance Baroque and Neoclassical styles with important examples of each found in the Old Town Additionally Eastern Rite Catholicism has maintained a presence in Vilnius since the Union of Brest The Baroque Basilian Gate is part of an Eastern Rite monastery Choral Synagogue of Vilnius Vilnius has been home to an Eastern Orthodox Christian presence since the 13th or even the 12th century A famous Russian Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Spirit is near the Gate of Dawn St Paraskeva s Orthodox Church in the Old Town is the site of the baptism of Hannibal the great grandfather of Pushkin by Tsar Peter the Great in 1705 Many Old Believers who split from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1667 settled in Lithuania The Church of St Michael and St Constantine was built in 1913 Today a Supreme Council of the Old Believers is based in Vilnius A number of Protestant and other Christian groups 369 are represented in Vilnius most notably the Lutheran Evangelicals and the Baptists The pre Christian religion of Lithuania centred on the forces of nature as personified by deities such as Perkunas the Thunder God is experiencing some increased interest Romuva established a Vilnius branch in 1991 370 Judaism and Karaism Edit Once widely known as Yerushalayim D Lita the Jerusalem of Lithuania Vilnius since the 18th century was a world centre for Torah study and had a large Jewish population A major scholar of Judaism and Kabbalah centred in Vilnius was the famous Rabbi Eliyahu Kremer also known as the Vilna Gaon His writings have significant influence among Orthodox Jews to this day Jewish life in Vilnius was destroyed during the Holocaust there is a memorial stone dedicated to victims of Nazi genocide in the centre of the former Jewish Ghetto now Mesiniu Street The Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum is dedicated to the history of Lithuanian Jewish life The site of Vilnius s largest synagogue built in the early 1630s and wrecked by Nazi Germany during its occupation of Lithuania was found by ground penetrating radar in June 2015 with excavations set to begin in 2016 371 372 The Karaites are a Jewish sect that migrated to Lithuania from the Crimea Although their numbers are very small the Karaites are becoming more prominent since Lithuanian independence and have restored their kenesas e g Vilnius Kenesa 373 Pilgrimage Edit It is safe to say that I have been in Vilnius all my life at least since I became conscious I was in Vilnius with thoughts and heart One could say the whole being And so it stayed And in Rome From the speech of Pope John Paul II at the Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit during his visit to Lithuania in 1993 374 The interior of the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn with the holy Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn painting Since the Christianization of Lithuania in 1387 Vilnius has become one of the main centres of Christianity in Lithuania and a Christian pilgrimage site Vilnius Pilgrimage Centre Lithuanian Vilniaus piligrimu centras coordinates pilgrimages assists in their proper preparation and takes care of pilgrimage pastoral care 375 Many places in Vilnius are associated with divine miracles or marks significant events to the Christians The Chapel of the Gate of Dawn is visited by thousands of Christian pilgrims annually Initially the gates were part of the defensive Wall of Vilnius however in the 16th century they were given to the Carmelites who installed a chapel in the gates with a prominent 17th century Catholic painting Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn The painting was later decorated with gold plated silver embellishments and is surrounded by a legend and divine miracles 376 The first Divine Mercy painting by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski 1934 at the Divine Mercy Sanctuary Vilnius Verkiai Calvary c 1840s It was built as a sign of gratitude for the victory in the Second Northern War Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy is another important pilgrimage site which has the Divine Mercy image Vilnius became the birthplace of the Divine Mercy Devotion when Saint Faustina began her mission under the guidance and discernment of her new spiritual director blessed Michal Sopocko In 1934 the first Divine Mercy image was painted by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski under the supervision of Faustina Kowalska and it presently hangs in the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Vilnius A feast of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is held in the shrine 24 hours per day 376 The House of St Faustina where she previously lived is located in V Grybo St in Antakalnis and is open to the pilgrims every day 377 Church of St Philip and St Jacob near the Lukiskes Square has the painting of the Mother of God of Lukiskes which is glorified by divine miracles 376 The icon was painted in the 15th 16th centuries and is one of the oldest monuments of easel painting in Lithuania 378 It was brought by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania artillery general Motiejus Korvinas Gosievskis from the Russo Polish War From 1684 onwards miracles began to be experienced in the Vilnius Dominican Monastery related to the image of Mother of God of Lukiskes which in 1737 were published in a miracles book Mystical fountain Lithuanian Mistinis fontanas The icon was restored and returned to the Dominicans in 2012 379 Three Crosses is a prominent monument in Vilnius According to a debated legend of the Franciscan martyrs of Vilnius presented in the Bychowiec Chronicle fourteen Franciscan friars were invited to Vilnius from Podolia by Petras Gostautas 380 The friars publicly preached the gospel and denigrated the pagan Lithuanian gods Angered city residents burned the monastery and killed all fourteen friars Seven of them were beheaded on the Bleak Hill the other seven were crucified and thrown into the Neris or Vilnia River 380 Verkiai Calvary or Vilnius Calvary is the second oldest calvary in Lithuania after Zemaiciu Kalvarija It is located in Verkiai a neighborhood of Vilnius The Calvary was built in 1662 69 as a sign of gratitude for the victory in the Second Northern War 1655 60 381 The consecration ceremony of the new Stations of the Cross took place at Pentecost on 9 June 1669 382 The Calvary includes 20 brick chapels seven wooden and one brick gate and one bridge with a wooden chapel 383 The path ends at the Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross In 1962 all chapels except four closest to the church were destroyed by the Soviet authorities with dynamites overnight The Calvary was reconstructed in 1990 2002 and the chapels were solemnly consecrated at Pentecost in 2002 384 Pilgrimages in the Calvary are organized regularly with the clergy 385 Church Heritage Museum Lithuanian Baznytinio paveldo muziejus exhibits the oldest and largest of all the churches of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania treasure trove of the Vilnius Cathedral and liturgical artefacts from other churches of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vilnius 376 386 Vilnius is the only city in the Baltic states with an Apostolic Nunciature in which Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis stayed during their visits to Lithuania Latvia and Estonia 387 Parks squares and cemeteries Edit Three Crosses in Kalnai Park Almost half of Vilnius is covered by green areas such as parks public gardens natural reserves Additionally Vilnius is host to numerous lakes where residents and visitors swim and have barbecues in the summer Thirty lakes and 16 rivers cover 2 1 of Vilnius s area with some of them having sand beaches Vingis Park the city s largest hosted several major rallies during Lithuania s drive towards independence in the 1980s Sections of the annual Vilnius Marathon pass along the public walkways on the banks of the Neris River The green area next to the White Bridge is another popular area to enjoy good weather and has become venue for several music and large screen events Singing fountain in Bernardinai Garden Cathedral Square in Old Town is surrounded by a number of the city s most historically significant sites Lukiskes Square is the largest bordered by several governmental buildings the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Ministry of Finance the Polish Embassy and the Genocide Victims Museum where the KGB tortured and murdered numerous opposers of the communist regime An oversized statue of Lenin in its centre was removed in 1991 Town Hall Square has long been a centre of trade fairs celebrations and events in Vilnius including the Kaziukas Fair The city Christmas tree is decorated there State ceremonies are often held in Daukantas Square facing the Presidential Palace On 20 October 2013 Bernardinai Garden near Gediminas Tower previously known as Sereikiskes Park was opened after reconstruction The authentic 19th century Vladislovas Strausas environment was restored 388 It is a venue for concerts festivals and exhibitions Rasos Cemetery consecrated in 1801 is the burial site of Jonas Basanavicius and other signatories of the 1918 Act of Independence along with the heart of Polish leader Jozef Pilsudski Two of the three Jewish cemeteries in Vilnius were destroyed by communist authorities during the Soviet era the remains of the Vilna Gaon were moved to the remaining one A monument was erected at the place where Uzupis Old Jewish Cemetery was 389 About 18 000 burials have been made in the Bernardine Cemetery established in 1810 it was closed during the 1970s and is now being restored Antakalnis Cemetery established in 1809 contains various memorials to Polish Lithuanian German and Russian soldiers along with the graves of those who were killed during the January Events Tourism Edit Tourists in the Old Town of Vilnius According to the data collected by the Lithuanian Department of Statistics a total of 1 200 858 visitors had rented rooms in Vilnius accommodation venues where they spent a total of 2 212 109 nights in 2018 Compared to the 2017 statistics the number of guests grew by 12 and 11 respectively 390 The Republic of Uzupis is a tourists frequently visited micronation in Vilnius full of Bohemian culture and art In 2018 81 of all the visitors who stayed in Vilnius were foreigners 970 577 which is 11 more than the previous year Most foreign visitors came from Belarus 102 915 Germany 101 999 Poland 99 386 Russia 90 388 and Latvia 61 829 Guests from these countries accounted for 47 of all foreign guests who rented rooms in Vilnius accommodation venues 390 Entirely 230 281 Lithuanians 19 of all guests were in Vilnius accommodation venues during 2018 which is 18 more than in 2017 390 According to a 2018 Vilnius Visitors Survey 48 of tourists visited Vilnius for the first time 85 of tourists planned the trip by themselves and 15 travelled with travel agencies 391 According to the same survey 40 of tourists specified that they decided to visit Vilnius in order to learn about the history and heritage of the city however 23 of tourists also planned trips to other areas of Lithuania e g Trakai Kaunas Druskininkai Siauliai etc 392 Many Belarusians 200 000 granted travel visas annually are arriving for shopping in the city s shopping malls and upon departing submits even half a meter long receipts to the customs 393 In 2018 Vilnius Tourist Information Centres were visited by a total of 119 136 visitors 95 932 foreigners and 23 204 Lithuanians a 5 increase compared with the 2017 statistics In 2017 the centres were visited by 113 818 visitors 97 072 foreigners and 16 746 Lithuanians 390 The best rated tourist services in Vilnius are restaurants cafes services quality old town attractions hotels or other accommodation places services trips to Trakai parks green zones connection with the Vilnius Airport food in hotels restaurants cafes 394 In the City Costs Barometer 2019 Vilnius was ranked as number one among the European capitals for offering best value to visitors 395 The Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports is slated in 2022 to be transformed into the leading convention center in the Baltic states The controversial project has been approved by the Lithuanian Jewish Community 396 Hotels Edit Grand Hotel Kempinski Vilnius Lithuania is a member of the European Hotelstars Union which provides a harmonised hotel classification with common criteria and procedures in the participating countries 397 Vilnius has six 5 star hotels all located in the Vilnius Old Town 398 There are also 27 4 star hotels 399 The Grand Hotel Kempinski Vilnius with a direct view of the Cathedral Square is considered as the most luxurious hotel in Vilnius and offers presidential rooms for around 3 000 per night more than three times the average monthly net salary in Vilnius 400 and is frequently chosen by the heads of state movie stars famous musicians and other celebrities during their visits to Lithuania 401 In 2019 Vilnius had 82 hotels 8 motels and 40 other accommodation facilities with 6 822 rooms and 15 248 beds The highest hotel room occupancy was in August and the lowest in February 390 According to a 2018 Vilnius visitors survey 44 of visitors to Vilnius stayed in middle range hotels 3 4 stars 12 stayed in standard or economy hotels 1 2 stars and 11 stayed in luxury 5 star hotels 402 Sports Edit Siemens Arena Several teams are based in the city The largest is the basketball club BC Rytas which participates in European competitions such as the Euroleague and Eurocup the domestic Lithuanian Basketball League winning the ULEB Cup predecessor to the Eurocup in 2005 and the Eurocup in 2009 Its home arena is the 2 500 seat Lietuvos Rytas Arena all European matches and important domestic matches are played in the 11 000 seat Siemens Arena Vilnius also has several football teams FK Zalgiris is the main football team The club plays at LFF Stadium in Vilnius capacity 5 067 403 Construction of the multi functional Lithuania National Stadium has been ongoing in Seskine since 1987 and is currently frozen Olympic champions in swimming Lina Kaciusyte and Robertas Zulpa are from Vilnius There are several public swimming pools in Vilnius with Lazdynai Swimming Pool being the only Olympic size swimming pool of the city 404 The city is home to the Lithuanian Bandy Association Badminton Federation Canoeing Sports Federation Baseball Association Biathlon Federation Sailors Union Football Federation Fencing Federation Cycling Sports Federation Archery Federation Athletics Federation Ice Hockey Federation Basketball Federation Curling Federation Rowing Federation Wrestling Federation Speed Skating Association Gymnastics Federation Equestrian Union Modern Pentathlon Federation Shooting Union Triathlon Federation Volleyball Federation Tennis Union Taekwondo Federation Weightlifting Federation Table Tennis Association Skiing Association Rugby Federation Swimming Federation 405 The Vilnius Marathon is an international marathon with thousands of participants every year Vilnius is one of the host cities for the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup Transport Edit Vilnius International Airport main entrance Navigability of the river Neris is very limited and no regular water routes exist although it was used for navigation in the past 406 The river rises in Belarus connecting Vilnius and Kernave and becomes a tributary of Nemunas river in Kaunas Vilnius Airport serves most Lithuanian international flights to many major European destinations The airport has about 50 destinations in 25 countries 407 The airport is situated only 5 km 3 1 mi away from the centre of the city and has a direct rail link to Vilnius railway station The Vilnius railway station is an important hub serving direct passenger connections to Minsk Kaliningrad Moscow and Saint Petersburg as well as being a transit point of Pan European Corridor IX Vilnius is the starting point of the A1 motorway that runs across Lithuania and connects the three major cities Vilnius Kaunas and Klaipeda and is a part of European route E85 The A2 motorway connecting Vilnius with Panevezys is a part of E272 Other highways starting in Vilnius include A3 A4 A14 A15 A16 Vilnius s Southern bypass is road A19 Carsharing and electric vehicles infrastructure Edit Carsharing company SPARK car and an EV charging station in Vilnius Vilnius based international company CityBee is the biggest carsharing services provider in Vilnius which offers cars bicycles and electric scooters for a short or long term rental Users get free parking fuel insurance and are only required to pay for the time of usage and distance travelled The rental is activated using a mobile app 408 Its biggest competitor is another Vilnius based company SPARK which works with the same principles but offers only the electric vehicles and has its own charging stations across Vilnius 409 Vilnius is the city with the most electric vehicles in Lithuania 410 The city has tens of public high power charging stations provided by a state owned enterprise Ignitis ON and a municipal enterprise Susisiekimo paslaugos 411 412 Vilnius city municipality and the Government of Lithuania encourages the usage of electric vehicles and has granted a number of benefits for such cars users e g six charging stations offers a completely free charging in Vilnius free parking in the city s public areas 413 electric vehicles are allowed to drive in a separate A road lane and significantly benefits in the traffic jams 414 electric and hybrid vehicles license plates begins with a letter E 415 Public transport Edit Solaris Urbino 18 bus and Skoda 26Tr Solaris trolleybuses in Vilnius Orange bikes available for renting The bus network and the trolleybus network are run by Vilniaus viesasis transportas There are over 60 bus 18 trolleybus 6 rapid bus and 6 night bus routes 416 The trolleybus network is one of the most extensive in Europe Over 250 buses and 260 trolleybuses transport about 500 000 passengers every workday 417 The first regular bus routes were established in 1926 and the first trolleybuses were introduced in 1956 418 At the end of 2007 a new electronic monthly ticket system was introduced It was possible to buy an electronic card in shops and newspaper stands and have it credited with an appropriate amount of money The monthly e ticket cards could be bought once and credited with an appropriate amount of money in various ways including the Internet Previous paper monthly tickets were in use until August 2008 419 The ticket system changed again from 15 August 2012 E Cards were replaced by Vilnius Citizen Cards Vilniecio Kortele It is now possible to buy a card or change an old one in newspaper stands and have it credited with an appropriate amount of money or a particular type of ticket Single trip tickets have been replaced by 30 and 60 minute tickets The public transportation system is dominated by the low floor Volvo and Mercedes Benz buses as well as Solaris trolleybuses There are also plenty of the traditional Skoda vehicles built in the Czech Republic still in service and many of these have been extensively refurbished internally This is a result of major improvements that started in 2003 when the first brand new Mercedes Benz buses were bought In 2004 a contract was signed with Volvo Buses to buy 90 brand new 7700 buses over the following three years 420 An electric tram and a metro system through the city were proposed in the 2000s However neither has progressed beyond initial planning 421 In 2018 the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania approved a new metro project with the president s agreement 422 In 2014 a mobile app was launched with public transport tickets on smartphones 423 In 2017 Vilnius started the historically largest upgrade of its bus services by purchasing 250 new low floor buses The project will result in making 6 of 10 public buses being brand new by the middle of 2018 and will allow its passengers to use such modern technologies as free Wi Fi and to charge their electronic devices while traveling 424 On 5 September 2017 50 new Isuzu buses were presented and articulated Scania buses were promised in the very near future 425 Vilnius City Municipality also held a contest for 41 new trolleybuses and its winner Solaris committed to deliver all trolleybuses until the autumn of 2018 which will also have the free Wi Fi and charging features 426 On 13 November Vilnius City Municipality signed a contract with Solaris for the remaining 150 Solaris Urbino buses of the newest IV generation 100 standard and 50 articulated also with the free Wi Fi and USB charging 427 On 20 September 2019 five all electric Karsan Jest Electric autobuses were presented which will serve the 89 route in narrow streets 428 Since 2017 a 30 minute ticket costs 0 65 euro a 60 minute ticket costs 0 90 euro and a single ticket bought on board costs 1 00 euro There are other types of tickets both short term and long term Various discounts for pupils students and elder people are available 429 Healthcare Edit House in which the Vilnius Medical Society was established in 1805 The Vilnians took care of the cleanliness and health responsibly already during the Grand Duchy of Lithuania times as the city had public bathhouses and one fourth of houses in Vilnius had individual bathhouses also almost half of the houses had alcohol distilleries 430 In 1518 medicine doctor and canon Martynas Dusnickis established the first spitole English spital in Vilnius which was the first hospital like institution in Lithuania and treated people who were not able to take care of themselves due to their health condition age and poverty 431 The Brotherhood of Saint Roch maintained primitive hospitals and shelters spitole for the sick and the disabled in Vilnius from 1708 to 1799 although it is not known whether the brothers had any kind of medical education it is known that the brothers hired paramedics doctors and surgeons including women nurses who could take care of their female patients and a significant number of its patients had sexually transmitted diseases other Catholic hospitals refused to treat such patients also the brotherhood sheltered pregnant women and their abandoned children other patients sought help for injuries tuberculosis rheumatism arthritis etc 432 In 1805 the Vilnius Medical Society was established on the initiative of Joseph Frank son of Johann Peter Frank which was the first society of this type in Eastern Europe and to this day unites medicine doctors and professors in Vilnius 433 The same year the society established a teaching hospital clinic under the Vilnius University Faculty of Medicine 434 The Ministry of Health is located in Vilnius and is responsible for the healthcare in Lithuania 435 Vilnians have to pay the compulsory health insurance 6 98 of the salary which is governed by the Vilnius Territorial Health Insurance Fund and guarantees free health care to every insured person however some residents are exempt from this tax e g disabled persons children full time students etc 436 Vilnius University Hospital Santaros Klinikos and the Vilnius City Clinical Hospital are the primary hospitals in Vilnius 437 438 There also are eight polyclinics the Medical Centre of the Ministry of the Interior and a number of private health care facilities in the city 439 Media Edit The title page of Kurier Litewski 1760 Vilnius The first Lithuanian periodical newspaper weekly Kurier Litewski was published in Vilnius from 1760 to 1763 440 Vilnius is home to numerous newspapers magazines and publications including Lietuvos rytas Lietuvos zinios Verslo zinios Respublika Valstieciu laikrastis Mokesciu zinios Aktualijos 15min Vilniaus diena Vilniaus Krastas Lietuvos aidas Valstybe Veidas Panele Franciscan Bernardinai lt Russian Litovskij kurjer Polish Tygodnik Wilenszczyzny 441 Vilnius TV Tower is located in Karoliniskes microdistrict and transmits television signals to the whole of Vilnius 442 The most viewed networks in Lithuania are headquartered in Vilnius including LRT televizija TV3 LNK BTV LRT Plius LRT Lituanica TV6 Lietuvos rytas TV TV1 TV8 Sport1 Liuks Info TV 443 The first stationary radio station in Vilnius Rozglosnia Wilenska was launched in Zverynas microdistrict on 28 November 1927 but was later moved to the present day Gediminas Avenue in 1935 444 M 1 the first commercial radio station in Lithuania started broadcasting from Vilnius in 1989 Many other Lithuanian or foreign languages radio stations also broadcasts from Vilnius most of them signals comes from the Vilnius TV Tower or the Vilnius Press House 445 The Lithuanian Union of Journalists Lithuanian Lietuvos zurnalistu sajunga and the Lithuanian Society of Journalists Lithuanian Lietuvos zurnalistu draugija are headquartered in Vilnius 446 447 Twin towns sister cities EditSee also List of twin towns and sister cities in Lithuania Vilnius is twinned with 448 Aalborg Denmark Almaty Kazakhstan Brussels Belgium Budapest Hungary Chicago United States Chișinău Moldova Dnipro Ukraine Donetsk Ukraine Duisburg Germany Edinburgh Scotland United Kingdom Erfurt Germany Gdansk Poland Guangzhou China Joensuu Finland Krakow Poland Kyiv Ukraine Lodz Poland Madison United States Minsk Belarus Moscow Russia Nur Sultan Kazakhstan Oslo Norway Pavia Italy Piraeus Greece Reykjavik Iceland Riga Latvia Saint Petersburg Russia Salzburg Austria Stockholm Sweden Strasbourg France Taipei Taiwan Tallinn Estonia Tbilisi Georgia Warsaw PolandSignificant depictions in popular culture EditVilnius is mentioned in the movie The Hunt for Red October 1990 as being the boyhood home of the sub commander Marko Ramius and as being where his grandfather taught him to fish he is also referenced once in the movie as The Vilnius Schoolmaster Ramius is played by Sean Connery Author Thomas Harris s character Hannibal Lecter is revealed to be from Vilnius and its aristocracy in the movie Hannibal Rising Lecter is portrayed more popularly and often by Sir Anthony Hopkins although Brian Cox played Lecter in the movie Manhunter The memoir A Partisan from Vilna 2010 449 details the life and struggles of Rachel Margolis Her family s sole survivor she escaped from the Vilna Ghetto with other members of the resistance movement the FPO United Partisan Organization and joined the Soviet partisans in the Lithuanian forests to sabotage the Nazis Vilnius is classified as a city state in the turn based strategy games Civilization V and Civilization VI Vilnius is a province and a capital city in the grand strategy game Europa Universalis IV Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania in the turn based strategy game Medieval II Total War Kingdoms and a rebels town in the Medieval II Total War game Historical drama War amp Peace was filmed in Vilnius by the BBC A well rated five part historical drama television miniseries about Chernobyl nuclear disaster was mostly filmed in two Soviet era elderships of Vilnius Justiniskes and Fabijoniskes 450 HBO s miniseries Catherine the Great featuring Helen Mirren was filmed in multiple locations of Vilnius 451 New season of the web television series Stranger Things will be filmed in the now empty Lukiskes Prison in 2020 452 Notable people EditMain article List of people from VilniusSee also Edit Lithuania portal Coat of arms of Vilnius List of monuments in Vilnius List of Vilnius Elderships in other languages Neighborhoods of VilniusReferences Edit Vilnius In Search of the Jerusalem of Lithuania Lithuanian Jewish Community lzb lt 18 November 2016 Retrieved 5 March 2021 Widespread use of the nickname from the 16th century to this day as a reference to the many Catholic churches and monasteries in Vilnius and overall religious atmosphere in the centre This nickname was is used not only by the foreigners but also by the local population The 19th century Lithuanian cultural figure Dionizas Poska nicknamed Vilnius Rome of the North as according to him Vilnius is the old religious centre that transformed from a pagan city into the bastion of Christianity D Poska Rastai Vilnius 1959 p 67 Cultural newspaper that has been published in Vilnius since 1990 is named Siaures Atenai The Athens of the North as a reference to one of Vilnius s nicknames which was widespread in the first half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th mostly because of Vilnius University During the interwar period a Polish scientific newspaper published in Vilnius was also named Atheneum Wilenskie Especially in the 16th 17th centuries Vilnius was called the New Babylon because of the many languages spoken there as well as its many religions there were various Christian communities as well as Jews and a Muslim Tatar community E g S Bodniak Polska w relacji wloskiej z roku 1604 Pamietnik biblioteki kornickiej 2 Kornik 1930 p 37 This nickname was very popular among the Lithuanian nobility citizens of Vilnius and poets especially during the Baroque period Many poets of the period including Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski nicknamed Vilnius the capital of Palemon or the city of Palemon Zivile Nedzinskaite Vilnius XVII XVIII a LDK lotyniskojoje poezijoje Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis Vilnius 2010 p 16 Eugenija Ulcinaite Motiejus Kazimieras Sarbievijus Antikos ir krikscionybes sinteze Vilniaus pasveikinimas Lietuviu literaturos ir tautosakos institutas Vilnius 2001 pp 47 59 61 63 etc a b Population on 1 January by age groups and sex functional urban areas appsso eurostat ec europa eu Retrieved 5 March 2021 a b Statistines suvestines Gyventoju skaicius pagal savivaldybes 2021 m sausio 1 d Statistical summaries number of inhabitants in municipalities as of 1 January 2021 Vilnius in Lithuanian Valstybes įmone Registru centras State Enterprise Center of Registers of Lithuania 1 January 2021 Retrieved 6 June 2021 Statistiniu rodikliu analize Statistics Lithuania Vilniaus miesto savivaldybe 2021 m biudzetas Vilniaus miesto savivaldybe Sub national HDI Area Database Global Data Lab hdi globaldatalab org Vilniaus teritorine ligoniu kasa Prisirasiusiu gyventoju skaicius vilniaustlk lt in Lithuanian Retrieved 5 March 2021 The World According to GaWC 2020 GaWC Research Network Globalization and World Cities Retrieved 31 August 2020 Lithuania UNESCO World Heritage Centre Archived from the original on 14 January 2018 Steele Jonathan 19 June 2008 In the Jerusalem of the North the Jewish story is forgotten Opinion The Guardian Archived from the original on 14 January 2018 Retrieved 4 March 2018 Ex Post Evaluation of 2009 European Capitals of Culture PDF ECOTEC Research and Consulting Ltd Archived PDF from the original on 14 January 2018 fDi s Global Cities of the Future 2021 22 overall winners fdiintelligence fDi Intelligence A service from The Financial Times Ltd Retrieved 22 March 2021 Portrait of the Regions of Lithuania Vilnius city municipality Department of Statistics Archived from the original on 22 July 2015 Retrieved 1 August 2015 Lavrinec Pavel 20 October 2004 Russkaya Vilna ideya i formula Balkanskaya Rusistika in Russian Vilnyus Retrieved 18 August 2009 Vasyutinskij A M Dzhivelegov A K Melgunov S P 1912 Fon Zukkov Po doroge v Vilno Zadruga Francuzy v Rossii 1812 g Po vospominaniyam sovremennikov inostrancev in Russian 1 3 Moskva Retrieved 18 August 2009 The Legend of the Founding of Vilnius Gediminas Dream a b Tiuksiene Zita Sisaite Nijole 2015 Pasizvalgymai po Vilniu PDF Vilnius Adomo Mickeviciaus viesoji biblioteka p 167 a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Vilniaus istorija vle lt in Lithuanian Retrieved 8 November 2019 Rowell Stephen Christopher 2003 Chartularium Lithuaniae res gestas magni ducis Gedeminne illustrans Gedimino laiskai PDF Vilnius Leidykla Vaga Retrieved 7 June 2017 Algirdas vle lt Retrieved 24 April 2020 a b c d Briedis Laimonas 2008 Vilnius City of Strangers Baltos lankos ISBN 978 9955 23 160 8 Given Wilson Chris 2016 Henry IV English Monarchs series Yale University Press p 69 ISBN 978 0300154207 Basilevsky Alexander 2016 Early Ukraine A Military and Social History to the Mid 19th Century McFarland pp 178 179 ISBN 978 1476620220 Retrieved 11 November 2019 Tautavicius Adolfas Zygimanto Augusto lobyno likimas PDF lad lt in Lithuanian p 111 Retrieved 20 December 2020 Zygimantas Augustas vle lt in Lithuanian Retrieved 20 December 2020 History Vilnius University Retrieved 10 July 2019 a b Vilniaus gynimas vle lt Retrieved 12 November 2019 Piotr S Wandycz The lands of partitioned Poland 1795 1918 University of Washington Press 1974 p 166 Aleksandravicius Egidijus Kulakauskas Antanas 1996 Caru valdzioje Lietuva XIX amziuje Under the Tzars Lithuania in the 19th Century in Lithuanian Vilnius Baltos lankos Archived from the original on 12 August 2006 Polish translation Pod wladza carow Litwa w XIX wieku Universitas Krakow 2003 p 90 ISBN 83 7052 543 1 Hoerder Dirk Blank Inge Rossler Horst 1994 Roots of the Transplanted East European Monographs p 69 ISBN 978 0880332880 Zimmerman Joshua D 26 January 2004 Poles Jews and the Politics of Nationality The Bund and the Polish Socialist Party in Late Tsarist Russia 1892 1914 Univ of Wisconsin Press p 16 ISBN 978 0 299 19463 5 Snyder Timothy 2003 The Reconstruction of Nations Poland Ukraine Lithuania Belarus 1569 1999 Yale University Press p 306 ISBN 978 0 300 10586 5 A 1909 official count of the city found 205 250 inhabitants of whom 1 2 percent were Lithuanian 20 7 percent Russian 37 8 percent Polish and 36 8 percent Jewish Vardys Vytas Stanley Sedaitis Judith B 1997 Lithuania The Rebel Nation Westview Series on the Post Soviet Republics WestviewPress pp 19 20 ISBN 0 8133 1839 4 Eidintas Alfonsas Zalys Vytautas Alfred Erich Senn 1999 Ed Edvardas Tuskenis ed Lithuania in European Politics The Years of the First Republic 1918 1940 Paperback ed New York St Martin s Press pp 17 18 ISBN 0 312 22458 3 The First German Occupation 1915 1918 PDF Archived PDF from the original on 14 January 2018 Lithuania finds lost declaration of independence World The Guardian 30 March 2017 Archived from the original on 14 January 2018 Lossowski Piotr 1995 Konflikt polsko litewski 1918 1920 in Polish Warszawa Ksiazka i Wiedza pp 126 128 ISBN 83 05 12769 9 Abdelal Rawi 2001 National Purpose in the World Economy Post Soviet States in Comparative Perspective Cornell University Press ISBN 978 0 8014 8977 8 At the same time Poland acceded to Lithuanian authority over Vilnius in the 1920 Suwalki Agreement Price Glanville 1998 Encyclopedia of the Languages of Europe Blackwell Publishing ISBN 978 0 8014 8977 8 In 1920 Poland annexed a third of Lithuania s territory including the capital Vilnius in a breach of the Treaty of Suvalkai of 7 October 1920 and it was only in 1939 that Lithuania regained Vilnius and about a quarter of the territory previously occupied by Poland Smith David James Pabriks Artis Purs Aldis Lane Thomas 2002 The Baltic States Routledge ISBN 978 0 415 28580 3 Fighting continued until the agreement at Suwalki between Lithuania and Poland on 7 October 1920 which drew a line of demarcation which was incomplete but indicated that the Vilnius area would be part of Lithuania Eudin Xenia Joukoff Fisher Harold H Jones Rosemary Brown 1957 Soviet Russia and the West 1920 1927 Stanford University p 9 ISBN 978 0 8047 0478 6 The League effected an armistice signed at Suwalki 7 October 1920 by the terms of which the city was to remain under Lithuanian jurisdiction Eidintas Alfonsas Tuskenis Edvardas Zalys Vytautas 1999 Lithuania in European Politics Macmillan ISBN 978 0 312 22458 5 The Lithuanians and the Poles signed an agreement at Suwalki on 7 October Both sides were to cease hostilities and to peacefully settle all disputes The demarcation line was extended only in the southern part of the front to Bastunai Vilnius was thus left on the Lithuanian side but its security was not guaranteed Abramowicz Hirsz Dobkin Eva Zeitlin Shandler Jeffrey Fishman David E 1999 Profiles of a Lost World Memoirs of East European Jewish Life Before World War II Wayne State University Press ISBN 978 0 8143 2784 5 Before long there was a change of authority Polish legionnaires under the command of General Lucian Zeligowski did not agree with the peace treaty signed with Lithuania in Suwalki which ceded Vilna to Lithuania Brecher Michael Wilkenfeld Jonathan 1997 A Study of Crisis University of Michigan Press ISBN 978 0 472 10806 0 Mediation by the League Council led to an agreement on the 20th providing for a cease fire and Lithuania s neutrality in the Polish Russian War Vilna remained part of Lithuania The abortive Treaty of Suwalki incorporating these terms was signed on 7 October Buell Leslie 2007 Poland Key to Europe Alfred Knopf republished by Read Books ISBN 978 1 4067 4564 1 Clashes subsequently took place with Polish troops leading to the armistice at Suwalki in October 1920 and the drawing of the famous Curzon Line under League mediation which allotted Vilna to Lithuania Slocombe George 1970 Mirror to Geneva Ayer Publishing ISBN 978 0 8369 1852 6 Zeligowski seized the city in October 1920 in flagrant violation not only of the Treaty of Suwalki signed by Poland and Lithuania two days earlier but also of the covenant of the newly created League of Nations Pries 100 metu lenkai uzeme Vilniu kad jis vel bus Lietuvos sostine galejo tiketi tik don kichotai Lrt lt in Lithuanian 19 April 2019 Retrieved 22 September 2019 Muller Jan Werner 2002 Memory and Power in Post War Europe Studies in the Presence of the Past Cambridge University Press p 47 ISBN 978 0 5210 0070 3 Gross Jan Tomasz 2002 Revolution from Abroad The Soviet Conquest of Poland s Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia Princeton University Press p 3 ISBN 978 0 6910 9603 2 Tylinska Ewelina The revival of the Vilnius University in 1919 Historical conditions and importance for Polish science In M Kokowski ed The Global and the Local The History of Science and the Cultural Integration of Europe 2nd ICESHS Cracow Poland September 6 9 2006 p 896 Iskauskas Ceslovas C Iskauskas Galinguju vizitai Lietuvoje Napoleonas Hitleris Putinas DELFI Retrieved 24 September 2019 Kulturu kryzkele Menora 2014 10 30 Lrt lt 30 October 2014 Retrieved 12 November 2019 Krauski Josef 1992 Education as Resistance The Polish Experience of Schooling During the War In Lowe Roy ed Education and the Second World War studies in schooling and social change Falmer Press p 130 ISBN 0 7507 0054 8 Praleika Aidanas Pirmoji pasaulyje gyvybes vizas zydams isdave Lietuva bet pasaulis to nezino LZinios lt Retrieved 15 November 2017 Snyder Timothy 2003 The Reconstruction of Nat, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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