Do you dream of a castle on a hillside? Elaborate buildings that are truly works of art? Old world charm? Little churches on every corner? Then you’ve been dreaming of Vilnius, Lithuania. It’s not a fairytale land, it’s real!
Arriving at the Vilnius airport was easy. Since we had a layover in Frankfurt and entered the Eurozone, we didn’t have to clear customs again. The airport is small, with options for transportation to the city center. We opted for the train for a mere 1.40 Euro–for the both of us! The train only took about 7-8 minutes, and it was a short walk from the train station to our hotel, the beautiful and historic Radisson Astorija Hotel!
Lithuania is the most religious of the three Baltic States with 28 churches in the tiny Old Town alone! They are a mix of Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches, and in the two days we spent there, we saw no fewer than a dozen happy wedded couples! Many were taking pictures at some of the fountains and gardens in town, and some others we saw were just stepping out of one of the elaborate churches, friends wishing them well with rose petals strewn on the ground before them!
However, the real jewel of Vilnius for Steve and me were the beautiful views from a plethora of towers and hills around town. Check this out:
The Hill of Three Crosses in the distance is a distinctive and symbolic landmark. It’s a replica of the original monument that was destroyed by Soviets in the 1950s, the original having been constructed in the 16th century! Legend has it, the crosses memorialize Franciscan friars who were tortured and then murdered by pagans during the Crusades. Some of the friars were “hacked to death” as our Eyewitness Travel guide book put it, and the others were thrown in the river, tied to crosses. Now these crosses have the best view of Lithuania’s valiant capital city.
While we spent just under 48 hours in town, we feel we saw it all! We hit the highlights and experienced a bit of the culture as well. The only thing I wish we’d had a bit more time to do was trek out to Trakai Castle–a scenic castle in a nearby lake! That is certainly worth coming back for one day in the future!
Are you intrigued? Hungry for more! Next stop: Radiant Riga!