Vilnius - The Capital Of Lithuania

Vilnius is the Capital of Lithuania located in the center of Europe which is both contemporary and ancient, rich in architecture, historical monuments, culture heritage, thematic festivals and entertainments. Vilnius is the fastest growing capital in the Baltic States, aspiring to become the most attractive political, business and culture center between Lithuania neighbor countries. A very significant step in reaching this purpose is becoming the European Capital of Culture 2009.

The Main Facts

Vilnius is the largest city in Lithuania with the population of approximately 554.400 inhabitants according to data of 2007. The population contains of 57,8% Lithuanians, 18,7% Poles, 14% Russians, 4 % Byelorussians, 0,5% Jews and 5% of other nationalities. The area of Vilnius is about 400 sq.km in total, 29,1% of which is covered by buildings, 68,8% by greenery and 2,1% by waters.

History

According to a legend, the authentic history of Vilnius began when the Grand Duke Gediminas in the early 14th century dreamt a gargantuan iron wolf howling enormously loudly. The Grand Duke asked magus Lizdeika to explain the dream and was told to found a city in the place he slept because the city is destined to become glorious and well known in all around the world. Looks like Lizdeika was right. Gediminas founded the city and named it after the name of river Vilnia. As soon as Vilnius was founded, the Capital of the Great Duchy of Lithuania was shifted from Trakai to Vilnius. At that time Vilnius became a center of tolerance where people of various nationalities settled and lived there in harmony developing trade and crafts. As soon as the Vilnius University was established in 1579 by King of Poland Stefan Batory, the city became a center of education and culture as well. Many years the destiny of Vilnius was closely related with Poland. There were even times when polish was set up as a language of higher classes. In order to avoid Russian military threat Lithuania had to sign a union that united Lithuania and Poland to a Commonwealth of Two Nations. However in 1795 the Commonwealth was divided between Russia, Austria and Prussia. Vilnius felt to Russia. Hopes for the Commonwealth recreation emerged when the great general Napoleon Bonaparte appeared in Vilnius in 1812. However, Napoleon was defeated and his highly debatable campaign of recovering the Commonwealth ended in disaster. Despite the difficulties some new Lithuanian seeds were sowed because of Vilnius University where Simonas Stanevicius and Simonas Daukantas worked in order to renew Lithuanian identity. However, the Vilnius University was closed after Russian repressions in 1831 and reopened only in 1917 after the collapse of the Russian Empire. As a consequence, less than 3% of Vilnius population spoke Lithuanian during the First World War. In 1920 Vilnius was overtaken by Poland and the Capital was transferred to Kaunas until 1939 when Lithuania was forced to sign a mutual assistance treaty with the Soviet Union on the basis of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. In that way Lithuania got Vilnius back, but lost its sovereignty. In 1941-1943 Lithuania was under control of Nazis so two ghettos were set up in the Old town. But Germany lost the Second Warld War and the history turned everything back when Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union again to be Lithuanian SSR. Although the period of Soviet occupation was very gloomy, Vilnius started to grow again in the early sixties inspired by sense of solidarity and Lithuanian identity. In 1991 the Soviet yoke was supplanted and Lithuania got back its independence. Vilnius shows the great leadership as a historical capital till nowadays. Once lost now it seems to be more precious than ever before.

Vilnius nowadays

Nowadays Vilnius is a modern European city reachable in various ways. An International Vilnius Airport is located only 7 km from the center, Vilnius Bus Station is just in front of Vilnius Rail Station, the internal traffic infrastructure is well developed so it is quite easy to reach anyplace.

There are many picturesque places to see in Vilnius. To begin with, the Old Town is one of the largest ancient heritages in Eastern Europe. Its buildings were erected in different centuries so a very impressive ensemble of various architectural styles, like gothic, renaissance, baroque, classicism and even post-modernism, is composed. It should be meant that the Vilnius Old Town is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  Once you really want to be acquainted with the city, it is advisable to visit such admirable places like Vilnius Cathedral Square that contains the Vilnius Cathedral, the Bell Tower, Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and a monument for the Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas who was the former of Vilnius city. What is more, spectacular views of Vilnius opens from the hill where the majestic Gediminas castle is located as well as from the top of a hill called Three Crosses. If a visitor prefers admiring beautiful views inside having a glass of wine, the highest tower of Vilnius, a TV Tower is always welcoming visitors in its restaurant called Milky Way, a perfect observation platform at the height of 165m. After taking a glance at Vilnius from a birds eye it should be gratifying to take a walk in the marvelous streets you have just seen from above. The most visited places are the Gediminas avenue, Pilies and Didžioji streets, the Bastion of Vilnius City Wall and the charismatic so called Republic of Užupis.

City guests can also visit some very informative museums and galleries such like the National Museum of Lithuania, the Museum of Genocide Victims, Museum of Theatre music and Cinema, Museum of Applied Arts, Contemporary Art Center and many others – there are many alternatives for various tastes and interests. Vilnius also offers a wide range of entertainments from battles with paintballs to quiet and romantic flying in air baloon. It is always lot of things to do in here as Vilnius owns the largest concert halls, sports arenas, cinemas, theatres, clubs, bars, casinos and shopping centers.

There is so much to know about this magnificent city that the only way to get aquainted to it is to come. The 2009 European Capital of Culture is worth to be visited more than ever. Vilnius is one of the most visited cities of Eastern Europe because the city has some special features that undoubtedly attracts people from all over the world.

Vilnius Medical Tourism

“I was surprised about the special attention and care I received”, “the staff spoke perfect English”, “the surgeon was exceptionally professional”. Lithuania’s surgeons hear it on a daily basis from their surprised foreign patients who are just discovering Lithuania as medical tourism destination and its full capacity to provide high quality medical treatment.

Vilnius stands strong in medical tourism. A number of modern medical facilities are located in the capital and the top doctors work either in public hospitals or private clinics.

Surgery price in Vilnius is considerably lower than in the UK, the USA or other strong economies. People are surprised that by having plastic surgery, dental treatment or orthopaedic surgery in Lithuania they can save up to 70 % of the medical costs. Surgery prices in Lithuania are competitive and the quality is well preserved and constantly improved so that a patient would feel safe and taken care of.

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