10 Reasons You Should Visit Vilnius

Named as the Culture Capital of Europe in 2009, Vilnius is a great place to visit. This walkable city is a the right balance of quirky and traditional. The mix of historic sites, great shopping opportunities and fun bars and pubs appeal to lots of visitors.  You can spend a few days visiting just to enjoy the sights and shopping to your heart’s content.

Below is a list of the 10 best things to see and do in Vilnius, Lithuania

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The Cathedral of St. Stanislav and St. Vladislav

Vilnius Cathedral

The Cathedral’s formal name is Cathedral of St. Stanislav and St. Vladislav and was built in 1251, and is the most important Catholic building in Lithuania. The Neo-Classical Cathedral is home to eleven chapels, among them the High Baroque Chapel of St. Casimir , Lithuania’s patron saint. Built in 1636 to house his remains, the chapel is one of the country’s national treasures.

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Gates of Dawn 

 

Gates of Dawn

The Gates of Dawn is the only remaining gate from the city’s original defensive walls which was completed in 1522. Of the original nine city gates, only the Gate of Dawn remains, while the others were destroyed. The Chapel in the Gate of Dawn contains an icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy, said to have miraculous powers. Many pilgrims come to pray in front of the icon for healing powers.

 

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Gediminas Hill 

 

Gediminas Castle & Museum

You can climb up or take the funicular up Gediminas Hill for spectacular views of Vilnius. The castle dates from the 13th century and over the years it was also a prison. The tower houses a museum that has exhibits on the history of the castle and some archeology exhibits from the surrounding area.

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St. Anne’s Church 

St. Anne’s Church

St Anne’s Church is one of the most famous landmarks in Vilnius. This pretty Gothic church was built between 1495 and 1500 by Benedikt Rejt , who is most famous for designing parts of Prague Castle.There is a legend that when during his conquests Napoleon came to Vilnius and saw this church he said he would like to take it on his palm and bring to France

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Old Town 

Old town 

Vilnius’ Old Town, which is  a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Europe’s largest baroque capital. Many of the old buildings have been converted into restaurants, bars or shops, and you can spend a day wandering and exploring the area.

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Angel of Uzupis

Uzupis District

The Uzupis District is part of old town and in 1998 the residents unofficially declared the area to be an independent republic, with its own president, anthem, flag, and constitution. The district has been popular with artists for some time, and has been compared to Montmartre in Paris due to its bohemia atmosphere.

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Sign in front of the Museum of Genocide Victims 

Museum of Genocide Victims

The Museum is set  in a former KGB building that was used in the Nazi and Russian occupations from the 1930’s until 1991. The basement was used as a prison from the KGB and still has the original execution chamber and still has bullet holes in the walls.

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Presidential Palace 

Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace is the official residence of the President of Lithuania.  It dates back to the 14th century and is located in Old Town.

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National Museum

National Museum of Lithuania

The National Museum of Lithuania houses a large collection of Lithuania’s historical and archeological artifacts. It dates back to 1855 and is the oldest museum in Lithuania.

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Pilies Street 

Shopping

Vilnius is known for its amber, woolen & flaxware. Pilies street is full of little shops with Lithuanian souvenirs, ornaments, clothing, also cafes and restaurants. Head on over to Stikliu street for boutiques owned by local designers.

10 Reasons You Should Visit Vilnius

If you’ve been to Vilnius, what did you enjoy most in this lovely city?

Thanks for reading & Happy Travels, Tava

 

 

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10 Things Not to Miss in Bucharest

When I traveled to Bucharest, I wasn’t sure of what to expect. The only things that I knew was that Bucharest,  used to be part of the old Soviet bloc and is home to the second largest building in the world.

I later found out that before World War II, the city was known as the “Little Paris“, because of its Art Nouveau architecture. When the war was over, the Soviet Union gained control of Romania. The old world architecture is now mixed with soviet style buildings left behind from decades of communist rule. Now Bucharest is experiencing a rebirth once again. The city is becoming known as the “New Berlin.”  The past and present coexist in this unique European capital.  There are interesting historical museums mingling with new trendy bars and cafes.

Here are a few of the places not to miss:

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The Worlds’s Second Largest Building

The Palace of Parliament

This is the second largest building in the whole world. It is located in the center of Bucharest, and was built in 1984 by Nicolae Ceausescu. It spans 12 stories with over 3100 rooms. We took a 45 minute tour of the building which included some extravagant rooms with lots of marble, massive chandeliers and handmade carpets.

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Arcul de Triumf

The Arch of Triumph  (Arcul de Triumf)

There have been three arches on this site. The first arch (made of wood) was inaugurated in 1878 when Romania gained its independence. The second arch was rebuilt on the site in 1922 after World War 1.  Then in 1936 the current arch was erected.  Each year, military parades are held underneath the Arcul de Triumf on December 1, which marks Romania’s National Day.

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The cobbled lanes of Lipscani

Lipscani (Old Town)

The Art nouveau, Baroque and neoclassical buildings in Lipscani are filled with art  galleries and cafes.  Make sure when you are exploring to take some time to linger at some of the great cafes, browse the many shops and spend a night listening to music in the bars in old town.

Caru’ cu Bere

This restaurant opened in 1879 and is also one of the oldest breweries in Bucharest.  The Caru’ cu Bere is worth a visit just to  see the painted ceilings and ornate woodwork. But make sure you order a meal, the food is amazing and their beer is tasty. It is a popular place so be prepared to wait for a table.

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Front of the Museum

Museum of the Romanian Peasant

The Museum of the Romanian Peasant is dedicated to the traditional way of life. It houses exhibits of traditional clothing and artifacts. The gift shop is filled with handicrafts. Also there was a local market at the back of the Museum where we were able to purchase some tasty treats and souvenirs to take home.

The National Village Museum

The National Village is located on the shores of Lake Herastrau and has exhibits of architecture from all over Romania. There are over 300 different types of dwellings; including houses, barns, churches, and windmills. The Museum also has a large gift shop.

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Romania has been a member of the European Union since 2007

Revolution Square

Originally called Palace Square, its name was changed after the Romanian Revolution in 1989, which marked the end of a decades-long communist regime.  The Square houses: The National Museum of Art, Senate Palace, Memorial of Rebirth and Kretzulescu Church.  the Athenaeum, the University of Bucharest Library.

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National Museum of Art

The National Museum of Art

The museum is in the grounds of the old Royal Palace in Revolution Square. There is the National Gallery of Romanian art which includes medieval to modern Romanian paintings. There is also European Gallery with collections dating as early as the 14th century.

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Senate Palace

Senate Palace

The  building  was the headquarters of the former Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party. This was where Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife fled by helicopter on December 22, 1989.  In 1990, the building became the seat of the Senate and since 2006 it houses the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform.

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Memorial of Rebirth

Memorial of Rebirth

The memorial complex was inaugurated in August 2005. memorial commemorates the struggles and victims of the Romanian Revolution of 1989, which overthrew Communism. Under the pillar there is a plaque with the names of the 1058 victims of the revolution are engraved.

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Pretty Kretzulescu Church

Kretzulescu Church

Kretzulescu Church is an Eastern Orthodox Church Built between 1720 – 1722. It is located on one of the corners of Revolution Square, next to the former Royal Palace.

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Taking a cafe break

This is just a few of the highlights of our stay in Bucharest.  We had a fun time walking around and seeing the city. Bucharest has plenty of places to explore, many wonderful places to eat and some great shopping opportunities.  If you are planning on visiting Romania, make sure you have a few days to see this vibrant city.

If you have visited Bucharest and have any places to add, please let me know! Happy Travels, Tava

 

10 Things Not to Miss in Bucharest

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