Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view


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The Church of St Parasceve in Vilnius

DSC00220DSC00268This attractive little Russian Orthodox Church, the Church of St Parasceve (or Piatnickaya in Russian) is situated at Ribiskiu Didzioji 2 behind the outdoor market place at the top of Pilies g.before it becomes Didžioji g. and seems to be in regular use.

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It has been rebuilt several times and has an interesting history some of which is described on the plaque outside the church.

In the early 1960s it was used as a Lithuanian Folk Art Museum.

The Soviet regime wanted it to be a Museum of Atheism (they liked to disparage religion in their soviet republics) although in this case it might have been appropriate as the church is said to have been built on the site of a temple to the pagan god Ragutis, one of three gods associated with beer and brewing in the Baltics.

It was reconsecrated as a Russian Orthodox church on 31 May 1991.

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The Kitchen

I was recommended to try The Kitchen restaurant by a Danish colleague in Vilnius. I went on my own the first time but took a colleague there on a subsequent visit to Vilnius to see what he thought.

DSC01194DSC01193The restaurant is on the right hand side of Didžioji street, as you walk up fromPilies street and is the wide street that opens up into the town hall square (Rotušės aikštė) with the entrance through an archway and then upstairs.

P1010303The styling is European/Scandinavian with large tables near the bar with a divider separating them from smaller individual tables with more large tables at the back.

P1010299Smokers are able to use the balcony (at least in the Summer).DSC01192

The service is very good with an attentive waitress and it’s good to see bottles of water already on the table without having to ask for it as you do in the UK (my experience in the USA several years ago was the same, bringing jugs of water to your table without having to be asked).
 
P1010300P1010301I ordered meatballs, which were delicious and my colleague had asparagus. Both dishes were beautifully prepared.
For me the only downside was the noisy atmosphere. We were sitting between two large groups of boisterous people, it’s obviously a favourite for family and works parties.
And they could do with some better lighting as you go down the stairs into the archway.


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Spoilt for choice on Stiklių Street

DSCF1332Tourists might associate this street with the Jewish ghetto which was destroyed in 1941 whilst Lithuania was under Nazi occupation.

However the name refers to the glassblowers who worked and sold their wares there in the 15th and 16th centuries.

You can see them in the painting above the entrance to the Stikliai hotel (I’ve never seen many people inside the hotel but it seems to be popular with visiting dignitaries. You’ll know when you see all the top-end Mercs parked outside with the drivers and minders hanging about).

There is still a glass artist’s studio on the street but there are also lots of eating and drinking places!

To get there you can walk up between Vilnius University and the Presidential Palace or walk up Pilies g. onto Didžioji g. and turn right at the fountain at the bottom of the town hall square (Rotušės aikštė).

On the left hand side you have the Lokys steakhouse with an eating area outside. You can’t miss the wooden bear!DSCF1487

DSC01075Almost opposite you have Mamma Mia, a new and classy delicatessen, coffee shop and wine bar which also sells bottles of wine and gifts.

DSC01079Walking past the hotel straight ahead at the junction of Stiklių g. and Žydų g. is Poniu Laime a wonderful coffee and cake shop (owned by the Stikliai hotel) which is reminiscent of an Austrian coffee shop, a little old-fashioned but very popular with locals (The name means a lady’s pleasure).P1010065

DSC01076On your immediate left there is a wine bar Notre Vie with a good selection of wine and where you can also get food. It’s a popular meeting place later in the evening.SAM_0281

CNV00041 You’re also at the entrance to M. Antokolskio g. on your left. And there is the best steakhouse in town, Markus ir Ko. Service is rudimentary (all male staff) but they have filet mignon to die for and on some nights a jazz pianist.

In the Summer you can sit out in the street. You need to book a table.

Further up the street is Rene, a Belgian restaurant which gets fresh fish twice a week. Not a place I’ve eaten at but the staff seem courteous and friendly.

If instead of turning left to Markus you carry on down Stiklių g. you come to another great restaurant Bistro 18.  My colleague and I have eaten there several times. He’s a big fan and often he’ll go there and I go to Markus and we meet up in Notre Vie.

I’m still waiting for him to write a review he knows it so well!CNV00100

There’s something for everyone in this part of the Old Town.


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Derelict Church in Vilnius

P1010307 - Version 2I’d walked up Pilies g. until it turned into Didžioji g. and I came to the fountain at the bottom of the Town Hall Square (Rotušės aikštė). Then I decided to go to the left for a change onto Savičiaus g.

P1010306I realised that this was where the famous composer and painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911) had lived and where his house is now a museum. I didn’t want to do a museum just then and I’d spotted a church tower.

When I got there I realised it was derelict although workmen were repairing the roof on the building next door. There are many churches in Vilnius but I wondered why this one had fallen into disuse. I couldn’t see the name of the church on the building or on my map.

I took a couple of photographs but it was when I was on that street again in the evening heading for the bastion that I took this picture.

The building seems to glow in the evening Summer sunlight.


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Prince Casimir’s crown rises above the rooftops in Vilnius

DSCF1492This church (Sv. Kazimiero baznycia) was built by the Jesuits starting in 1604 with the interior completed in 1618. It was dedicated to Prince Casimir who had just been canonised. It was the first baroque church in Vilnius although the dome with the lantern and crown wasn’t added until the 18c.

Later the church was taken over by the Russian Orthodox church, made into a cathedral, and rededicated to St Michael but was returned to the Jesuits in the early 20c.

However it was closed after being damaged in WWII and then in 1961 re-opened as a museum of atheism – something which happened in other parts of the soviet union as a way of humiliating the church. It was only returned to the Catholic Church in 1989.

This view is from the backstreets, the church front is on Didžioji gatvė.