Travelling to Vilnius and Trakai.

This year we were looking for an “exotic” destination, a destination rarely visited by Spanish tourists and we got it. We travel to Lithuania, starting with its capital: Vilnius.

July 29th.

For this we had to go to Malaga, where we took a flight with Ryan Air to Barcelona. We took off on time at 8.50 in the morning and in just under 2 hours we were at El Prat airport. A walk here, a sandwich there, currency exchange somewhere else and at 4:30 p.m. we took off for Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

As always, we recommend traveling with good health insurance. IATI is a specialist in travel insurance and, for being our reader, you have a 5% discount.

It should be noted that until 2015 its national currency worked: the Litas. It was from there that the Euro began to circulate.

At 21.05 we landed in Vilnius. We left the airport and took the train to the central station. From here it was about 10 minutes to the hotel. We chose the Europa Royale Vilnius, a fairly central 4-star hotel that cost us €66 ($69) per night with breakfast.

Find the best hotel at the best price in Vilnius with Agoda.

We had dinner at a nearby pizzeria: Charlie Pizza, which is a chain, and we went to rest to get up early.

July 30th.

We got up early, had breakfast and went to see the city. At the moment it rains at times. Very close to the hotel, on the way to the center, we first reached the Town Hall Square (Rotušės aikštė). In it we find (logically) the town hall building (Vilniaus rotušė). The Vilnius Town Hall was first mentioned in 1432. It was initially a Gothic-style building and has since been rebuilt many times.

The current building dates from 1799 and is built in the Neoclassical style according to plans by the Lithuanian architect Laurynas Gucevičius, although the oldest Gothic cellars are still preserved.

Vilnius Town hall
Town Hall.

We continue down towards the cathedral and a few meters from the town hall square we find the orthodox church Šv. kankinės Paraskevės cerkvė (church of the martyr Paraskevės). It is the oldest Eastern Orthodox church in the country and one of only two Orthodox churches that speak entirely in Lithuanian.

The first church was built on the site of a pagan temple at the request of Maria Yaroslavna of Vitebsk, the first wife of Grand Duke Algirdas, who was buried here after her death in 1346.

The church was completely destroyed by fire in 1557 and rebuilt three years later, but burned down again in 1611. Being in ruins, it was given to the local Eastern Catholics until in 1655, it was returned to the Orthodox Church and renovated.

During the Great Northern War, in 1705, with Vilna invaded and looted by the Muscovite army, the church was visited by Russian Tsar Peter the Great, who prayed there for military victory.

In 1748 the building was again destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1795. However, it remained closed for the next forty years, slowly falling into decay. In 1864, by order of the local Russian government, Nikolay Chagin rebuilt it in the Neo-Byzantine style.

During World War II it was destroyed again. It was quickly rebuilt but the Stalinist government banned Orthodox services from being held. It then became an art gallery until in 1990 it was returned to the Orthodox Church.

Šv. kankinės Paraskevės cerkvė.

Here begins (or rather ends) Pilies Gatvé (Pillies Street) one of the main streets of Vilnius Old Town. It is a very lively street full of restaurants, terraces and shops. The ideal place to buy your souvenirs.

Gediminas Tower from Pillies Gatvé.

We go through all of Pillies and reach the Katedros aikštė (Cathedral Square), where we find several remarkable elements, starting with the Vilniaus katedra (Vilnius Cathedral).

Vilniaus katedra.

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Stanislaus and Saint Ladislaus is the main Roman Catholic cathedral in Lithuania. It was King Mindaugas who ordered its construction in 1251, on the site where the Baltic pagan god Perkūnas, god of thunder, rain, mountains, oaks and the sky, was worshiped in pre-Christian times. After Mindaugas’s death in 1263, the temple returned to being a place of worship for Perkūnas.

In 1387, the year Lithuania officially converted to Christianity, construction began on a second Gothic cathedral which was devoured by fire in 1419. During preparations for his coronation as King of Lithuania in 1429, Vytautas built yet another Gothic cathedral big instead. Although said coronation never took place, the walls and pillars are still preserved.

In 1522, the cathedral was renovated and a bell tower was built over the defensive tower of the Lower Castle. After another fire in 1530, it was rebuilt again and between 1534 and 1557 more chapels and crypts were added. The cathedral acquired architectural features associated with the Renaissance.

The current building was built in the neoclassical style between 1779 and 1783 according to the design of the Lithuanian architect Laurynas Gucevičius.

During the Soviet regime, the cathedral became a warehouse, until 1988 when masses were celebrated again.

Find the best activities and tours in Vilnius and Lithuania at Civitatis.

What most caught our attention was the bell tower, separated from the rest of the building. It was built in the 13th century and was originally a defensive tower for the medieval castle. Its current image dates back to the beginning of the 19th century and it houses the oldest clock in Lithuania.

In the square we also find the monument to the Grand Duke Gediminas, built in 1996 by Vytautas Kašuba. Gediminas ruled between 1315 and 1341 the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which today would occupy Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldavia, as well as Podlachia in Poland and Smolensk, Briansk and Kursk today in Russia.

Behind the cathedral is the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, built in the 15th century for the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the future kings of Poland. It was built in the lower castle of Vilnius and was renovated and enlarged during the 16th and mid-17th centuries.

After the Russian invasion of 1655 the palace was badly damaged and its treasures and valuables were looted. After the reconquest of the city in 1661, the palace was abandoned for 150 years. What little remained of the palace was destroyed in 1801 following the incorporation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania into the Russian Empire.

The current building is a reconstruction equal to the original carried out between 2000 and 2013 (although it was officially inaugurated in 2009). Therefore, it was not open to visitors when we were there. Today is the National Museum of Lithuania.

Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.

The other striking element of the square, in front of the main facade of the Cathedral, we find a tile that says Stebuklas (“miracle” in Lithuanian) also known as Magic Brick. It was placed to commemorate the human chain that ran through the three Baltic republics in 1990 to ask for independence from the USSR.

Since its placement it became an attraction for passers-by, and for a time after its installation it was possible to observe alternative ways of interpreting it: the townspeople immediately realized that the tile was a place to make wishes, but they did not know what had to be done. Some step on the tile and rotate on its axis, others jump on it.

From here we went on our way to Gediminas Tower. For this we were going to use the funicular for lack of desire to walk up. We skirted the cathedral heading north passing the entrance of what was at that time the National Museum of Lithuania (it is still part of it).

Which by the way, the museum was founded in 1952 and encompasses a wide collection of artifacts and written materials, and also organizes archaeological excavations in Lithuania. Its predecessor was the Vilnius Museum of Antiquities, founded by Eustachy Tyszkiewicz in 1855, although originally the museum focused on the culture and history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Apart from the newly reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, it also occupies (in the photo) the new armory of the Vilnius Castle Complex.

Inside the enclosure of the arsenal is the Funicular to go up to the tower (Keltuvas į Gedimino kalną). It cost us 2 LT (0.57€ – 0.60$) and the journey takes just 1 minute.

The funicular drops you next to the Gedimino pilies bokštas (Gediminas Tower), which is part of the remains of the old Vilnius Castle.

Originally the castle was a wooden fortification. It was the Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas who built the first brick castle, completed in 1409. The current tower is due to a reconstruction from 1933.

The Gediminas Tower is an important state and historical symbol of the city of Lithuania as it was where the Lithuanian flag was raised on October 7, 1988, during the independence movement that ended with the Law on the Restoration of the State of Lithuania on 11 March 1990.

A legend weighs on the castle that goes like this:

Long time ago, the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas hunted in the forests of the Šventaragis Valley. The hunt was successful, and Duke Gediminas brought down a wild bull on top of a hill; but the members of it grew weary, so the duke withdrew and spent the night there. Now Gediminas had a dream that, on the top of the same hill where he had been hunting that day, there stood a great wolf made of iron, and it was howling as loud as a hundred wolves.

The duke asked the court magician, Lizdeika, to explain his dream to him. He interpreted it this way: it was an omen indicating that he should build a city on this place, which would later be known throughout the world and become the magnificent capital of Lithuania.

Gediminas, obeying the will of the gods, began to build the future capital city and a castle in the center of it. The city was named Vilnius after the nearby Vilnia River. The Tower of Gediminas is the only surviving part of that castle built by Gediminas.

The entrance cost us 5 Lt (€1.44 – $1.50) and from the top of the tower we have spectacular views of the city.

From here we can perfectly observe the monument of the Trys kryžiai (Three Crosses) in the place where, according to legend, seven Franciscan friars were beheaded. From the beginning of the 17th century, wooden crosses were installed as a tribute. In 1916 a monument by the Polish-Lithuanian architect and sculptor Antoni Wiwulski was installed, which was destroyed in 1950 by order of the leaders of the Soviet Union. The current monument is the work of sculptor Henrikas Šilgalis and was installed in 1989.

We begin the descent, taking a pleasant walk instead of taking the funicular again, and head to the Vilniaus Šv. Onos bažnyčia (Church of St. Anne). It is a Roman Catholic church consecrated in 1495 built in late Gothic style.

The first church was built for Anna, the Grand Duchess of Lithuania, the first wife of Vytautas the Great. This church, built of wood, was devoured by a fire in 1419.

The current one was built by order of the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Alexander I Jagiellon. After another raging fire in 1582, another reconstruction was carried out financed by Mikołaj “the Black” Radziwiłł and Jerzy Radziwił.

According to a well-known legend, Emperor Napoleon, after seeing the church during the Franco-Russian War in 1812, expressed his wish to take the church to his house in Paris “in the palm of his hand”.

During the Soviet era, the church remained open and was even renovated in the 1960s and 1970s when the towers fell into disrepair.

After visiting the church of Santa Ana we went back to Pillies and sat on a terrace to try the Lithuanian beer. I have to say, that of all the countries I have visited, it is in Lithuania that I have had the best beer and it is still unsurpassed.

As it has stopped raining if the day has cleared, we return to the cathedral square to enjoy it calmly and without an umbrella.

From here we headed towards Vilnius University but, on the way, we passed the Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidento kanceliarija (Presidential Palace).

The history of the Palace dates back to the only document written more than 600 years ago: Grand Duke Jogaila’s edict of February 17th, 1387.

After Lithuania converted to Christianity in 1387, Grand Duke Jogaila founded the Diocese of Vilnius, donating a piece of land near the “Goštauto Garden on the outskirts of Vilnius city”.

The first Bishop of Vilnius, Andrius Vasila (1388-1398), built the Episcopal Palace which was decorated, rebuilt and enlarged by successive owners. During the bishopric of Paulius Olšeniškis (1536-1555), one of the richest bishops, the palace was the most beautiful building after the Royal Castle. At that time it was surrounded by a large park that, due to its vegetation and landscaping, surpassed even the wonderful gardens of Radvila.

The last bishop who lived in the Palace was Bishop Masalskis (1730-1762). After Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire, the Episcopal Palace became a temporary residence for the Russian Emperor, dukes and other nobles. The most magnificent and respectable palace of its time, the palace was used as a residence by Tsar Pavel I in 1796, Stanislav August Poniatowski in 1797, and the future King of France Louis XVIII in 1804.

The current building is the result of extensive renovations carried out between 1824 and 1834 according to the design of Vasily Stasov, a renowned architect of the Tsar’s Court in Saint Petersburg.

In 1920, before Poland lost the Vilnius district, the Palace housed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania and the ELTA news agency.

The placio can be visited through guided tours.

Next to the palace is the old campus of Vilnius University (Vilniaus universitetas). Vilnius University, one of the oldest and most famous centers of higher education in Eastern and Northern Europe, was founded in 1579.

Functioning for a long time as the only higher education school in Lithuania, it was a guardian of cultural and scientific traditions and has played an important role in the cultural life of neighboring countries.

The construction of the university buildings took place over the centuries under the changing influences of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical styles.

The complex is huge and you can visit a large part for free and it cost us 5 Lt (1.45€) each.

We entered from the street Šv. Jono. Here we find a kiosk where we buy tickets and go to the Great Courtyard, where we find the most notable buildings of the complex: Vilniaus universiteto biblioteka (the library) and Vilniaus Šv. Jono Krikštytojo ir Šv. Jono apaštalo ir evangelisto bažnyčia (the Church of Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist) my goodness Lithuanian names…

The church was built between 1388 and 1426; and rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries. The tower, separate from the church itself, was built in the 16th century. After the fire of 1737, from 1738 to 1748, the architect Johann Christoph Glaubitz completely rebuilt the church in the late Baroque style.

In Soviet times, the church was closed and badly damaged. During Hitler’s occupation, Reverend Alfonsas Lipniūnas, who was later imprisoned by the Nazis in the Stutthof camp and died, delivered rebellious sermons in church.

In 1979 the church became the University Museum and in 1991, after the independence of Lithuania, it was returned to the parishioners.

Returning to the Great Patio, we entered the University Library. It was founded in 1570 by the Jesuits who came to Lithuania at the invitation of the Bishop of Vilnius Walerian Protasewicz, being the oldest academic library in the Baltic countries and housing more than 5 million documents.

In 1579, after confirming university status for the Vilnius Jesuit College, the library officially became a university library.

After the Suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773, the Educational Commission took over Vilnius University and that meant a change in the research approach: the Library holdings were supplemented with books on natural sciences and medicine.

The small bookstore stands out, especially for the spectacular frescoes on the ceiling and arches. A marvel.

From the bookstore we went to the Faculty of Philology, where the frescoes continued to adorn the ceilings and walls. How to study here with so much distraction?

We finished the visit seeing the exterior of the Astronomical Observatory, where we sat down to rest a bit as it was very quiet.

It was getting late to eat for Europeans, not for Spaniards. We decided to eat at a place I had booked on Didžioji Street, where Pillies Street ends, called Čili Pica. Čili is a restaurant chain with various types of restaurants. This one in particular was a pizzeria but they also had hamburgers and traditional Lithuanian dishes, which was what interested us.

We ate very well, so much so that we would repeat in different cities. And also very cheap: 40.95 Lt (€12) starter, two dishes and two soft drinks.

After lunch we decided to go to the hotel to rest a bit.

After the well-deserved rest, we continue with the tourist visits. Starting with Vilniaus Šv. Teresės bažnyčia (the Church of St. Teresa), a Catholic church built in 1650 by the Discalced Carmelites.

The church was designed and built in the Baroque style by Jonas Ulrich, the architect of the Radvilas mansion. The main façade was designed by Konstantinas Tenkala and was consecrated by the Bishop of Vilnius, Jurgis Tiškevičius.

The church was badly damaged during a fire in 1760 but was quickly rebuilt between 1763 and 1765, adding the bell tower.

Vilniaus Šv. Teresės bažnyčia.

About 20 meters to the north we find the Aušros Vartai (Gate of Dawn), the only one preserved of the ten gates of the old medieval city and one of its most important religious, historical and cultural monuments. It is a major Catholic pilgrimage site in Lithuania.

It was built between 1503 and 1522 as part of the defensive fortifications of the city of Vilnius, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It was known as the Medininkai Gate, as it led to the Medininkai village south of Vilnius, as well as to Aštra broma. The other nine city gates were destroyed by government order in the 18th century.

Aušros Vartai.

In the 16th century, the city gates often contained religious artifacts intended to protect the city from attack and bless travellers. The Chapel at the Puerta del Alba contains an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, who is said to have miraculous powers.

For centuries, the image has been one of the symbols of the city and an object of veneration for the Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic and Eastern Orthodox inhabitants. Thousands of votive offerings adorn the walls and many pilgrims from neighboring countries come to pray in front of the painting. Masses are held in Lithuanian and Polish.

From here we took a walk to the Choralinė sinagoga (Choral Synagogue), the only synagogue in Vilnius still in use. The rest of the more than 100 synagogues that existed before the 2nd World War were destroyed by the Nazis and by the Soviets after the occupation of the country. It was built in 1903 in the Romanesque-Arab style.

During the occupation of the Soviet Union, the synagogue was nationalized and turned into a metal factory, for which it suffered considerable damage. It was restored in 2010.

Choralinė sinagoga.

We continued walking and decided to have an early dinner since we had to get up early the next day. We decided to throw the ratatouille away and have dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, which, from what we had read, was one of the best in the city. It was called Medininkai and we ate well, no, the following. Typical Lithuanian food that cost us dearly for Lithuania: 95 Lt (€27.50 – €29). One of the anecdotes is that here I tasted the best beer I have ever had and it is still valid today: Švyturys Baltas.

July 31st.

Today it’s excursion. We’re going to Trakai. For this we go to the Vilnius bus station next to the train station.

We entered the station and located the bus to Trakai. A very old vehicle that was falling apart. Best of all, waiting for it to be opened, there was a man inside who looked no less than 90 years old eating a sandwich. He finishes eating, he gets to the wheel and pulls out his bottle of vodka from under him, from which he takes a long drink (it was 9 in the morning). He closes it, puts it away and gets behind the wheel.

Seeing our frightened face, a guy who was passing by asks us where we are going. Well, luckily it wasn’t our bus. Ours was a much more modern microbus. That if, the driver was going really fast and hitting the lights to high-end cars to move away. We were terribly scared. The ticket cost us 6 Lt (€1.70 – $1.80) and the journey takes about 40 minutes.

Trakai is a historical city located 28 km from Vilnius with a population of just 6,000 inhabitants. It stands out for its more than 200 lakes and for its imposing medieval castle, which is what we came to visit.

We got off at the bus station still very scared due to the terrible driving of the driver and we headed for a walk towards the castle.

On the way, with the tremendous heat that it was and the thirst that we carried, we decided to buy something fresh in a liquor store. The fridges with the classic drinks were turned off so we went to the rare ones. I bought a can with a pear on it that was very cold. I open it and put a drink from almost half a can (half a liter). It turned out to be cider. It was very good but with a tremendous drink I began to get drunk…

Trakų salos pilis (Trakai Castle) is located on an island in Lake Galvė (Galvės ežeras) and was started in the 14th century by the Duke of Trakai and Grand Duke of Lithuania Kęstutis.

The castle was heavily damaged during the attack of the Teutonic Knights in 1377. In 1409 the reconstruction and expansion of the castle was completed, by order of Vitautas “the Great”, son of Kęstutis. A few years later the last extension was made, adding fire galleries, three towers at the corners of the castle and widening the defensive wall.

Grand Duke Vitautas the Great died in the castle without being crowned King of Lithuania in 1430. In the 16th century with the loss of the military function and the loss of the role of residence, the importance of the Island Castle diminished and the Grand Dukes they visited him less and less. In 1511 it becomes a prison for nobles and in the 17th century, Trakai is looted and burned and the castle is destroyed.

In 1929 an excavation of the castle ruins began and in 1951 its reconstruction began. In the year 1962 the Trakai History Museum is established here.

The entrance to the castle cost us 14 Lt (4€) and it is one of the essential places to see in Lithuania. It is really spectacular. As a note, admission in 2022 costs €12.

On leaving the castle, we hired a boat ride on the lake with different views of the castle. It cost us 10 Lt (€2.90) and included a drink. In my case a beer (half a liter). 11:30 in the morning and I already have a liter of alcohol in my body…

After the walk, it was time to eat. We went in search of a very famous restaurant called Kybynlar. It is a Karaite gastronomy restaurant. Karaism is a religious stream of Judaism and there is currently a small Turkish Karaite community in Trakai, who arrived in the 14th century when the Grand Duke Vytautas came to the Crimean peninsula and brought 383 Karaite families to Lithuania.

We ate wonderfully and very cheap. As a first, we ordered some kibiniai, some lamb empanadas that were exquisite and you will find the recipe here. For second, a Canach soup that was delicious.

The best came with dessert. I ordered a coffee that looked exquisite. Well, it turned out that it also had alcohol. My goodness, in Trakai take alcohol to the water.

After eating we took a walk around the city while we headed to the bus station. We pass some notable buildings, such as the Trakų kenesa. Kenesa is the name by which the temples of the Lithuanian Karaites are known. Only two kenesas are preserved in Lithuania, the one from Trakai and the one from Vilnius.

We take the bus back at 5:35 p.m. It cost us something more expensive, 6.80 Lt.

Once in Vilnius we went directly to visit the Vilniaus gynybinės sienos bastėja (Vilnius Bastion defensive wall).

The territory of the upper and lower castles of Vilnius was well fortified since ancient times. When Vilnius began to grow in the 15th century, the city’s territory expanded and its castles could not provide enough protection for the townspeople. Both an increasingly centralized Russia and constant Tatar attacks presented threats both to Vilnius and to the entire Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

In 1503, Grand Duke Alexander of Lithuania satisfied requests from Vilnius residents that a stone defense wall be built around the city. Over time, most likely in the early 18th century, a part of the wall also became a defense structure: a bastion consisting of a tower, a horseshoe-shaped space for artillery, and a tunnel connecting them. The building is believed to have been designed by the military engineer Fryderyk Getkant.

The bastion and the city’s defense wall suffered considerable damage in the mid-17th century, during the war with Moscow. Having lost its defense function, the bastion fell into disrepair: its territory became a garbage dump, and old trenches and masonry were buried.

Comprehensive analysis of this site began in 1965, and over the next two decades, the bastion was unearthed and rebuilt. Today the Vilnius Bastion is the only heritage building of its kind in Lithuania. The museum contains the history of defense of Lithuania.

Vilnius Bastion and the Three Crosses (very) in the background.

From here we have fantastic views of the church of Saint Anna and the Three Crosses.

From here we drive to Užupis. This is a neighborhood in the historic center of Vilnius declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The neighborhood is famous for the number of artists who have inhabited it and still inhabit it, so much so that it has been compared to Montmartre for its bohemian atmosphere, the many art galleries, artists’ workshops and popular cafes.

In 1998, residents of the area declared the Užupio Res Publika (Republic of Užupis), with its own flag, currency, president, constitution, and army (with a whopping 17 members).

Independence is celebrated annually on Užupis Day, April 1. The current President of the Republic of Užupis, Romas Lileikis, is a poet, musician and film director; and the former mayor of Vilnius, Artūras Zuokas, lives in Užupis and is an active participant in events related to the Republic.

These Lithuanians are crazy…

We walked through the neighborhood, with few noteworthy elements although it is a pretty cool neighborhood to see walking around. Perhaps the highlight is Užupio angelas, the Angel of Užupis, the statue of an angel playing the trumpet installed on April 1 (Independence Day) 2002 in memory of the entertainer and cartoonist Zenonas Šteinys. It became a symbol of the Užupis revival. Funds were raised by selling miniature copies of the sculpture.

Previously, a sculpture of an egg had been temporarily placed and was the subject of many anecdotes. After being replaced by a larger sculpture, the egg was sold at auction for 10,200 Lt (approximately €3,000 – $3,140).

We take a long walk through the neighborhood to the Bernardinų kapinės (Bernardino Cemetery), one of the three oldest cemeteries in Vilnius and has about 38,000 m² and about 14,000 burials, among which are those of many illustrious Lithuanians. It was established in 1810 by the Bernardine monks of the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi and its development was a consequence of the tsarist authorities of the Russian Empire forbidding burying the dead near churches. The inhabitants of Vilnius moved the cemetery to what was then the outskirts of the city.

Unfortunately we arrived late and it was already closed.

Retracing our steps, next to the access bridge to Užupis, we find Vilniaus Dievo Motinos Ėmimo į Dangų katedra (the Orthodox Cathedral of the Theokos), the episcopal seat of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Metropolitan of Vilnius and all of Lithuania.

The cathedral was built during the reign of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas for his Orthodox second wife Uliana of Tver in 1346. It is one of the oldest in Vilnius, built before the Christianization of Lithuania when the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the last state pagan of Europe.

In 1495 the marriage between Grand Duke Aleksandras of Lithuania and Elena of Moscow, daughter of Ivan III, was celebrated in the cathedral in the presence of Saint Macarius. It was there that Helena was buried in 1513.

In 1748 the cathedral was abandoned after a major fire and the building was used for other purposes. It was rebuilt in the Baroque style in 1785. The cathedral was again destroyed by the Russian army during the Kościuszko Uprising.

In 1808, a local prelate sold the abandoned building to Vilnius University, after which it was completely rebuilt in 1822 in neoclassical style by Polish architect Karol Podczaszyński, also a professor at Vilnius University. The building housed an anatomical theater, a library, and other university facilities for half a century.

The old cathedral was confiscated and transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church at the initiative of Count Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov and his brother during the Russification campaign. Russian architect Nikolai Chagin was responsible for its reconstruction from 1865 to 1868 in a style that imitated medieval Georgian architecture.

The cathedral suffered severe damage during World War II and was restored again between 1948 and 1957.

Here we end the first part of the trip. The next day in the morning we moved the camp to Klaipėda, on the Baltic Sea coast.

Below you can see the map with the points we visited those days in Vilnius and Trakai:

To be continue…

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