Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view


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BBC’s War and Peace film shot partly in Vilnius

The BBC film used Gediminas Castle and Vilnius University for some of the scenes although they seemed to use Latvia and St Petersburg more.

We know those locations well. The castle  (better known as Gediminas’s Tower) is a regular feature in our blogs and the university has some wonderful architecture.sam_0302 sam_0303


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Vilnius – a beautiful city of contrasts

I’be blogged before about the contrasting sights you can see in Vilnius both buildings and people.

DSC00923This is the view you can see from the viewing point on, I think, Subačiaus g. You come past it on your way from the airport or train station and you can stop for a coffee and take in the panoramic view of the city, just like these ‘tourists” keen to get in the picture!

What I like about this picture, taken by my colleague on his new Nikon camera (and who blogs as Kindadukish) is that you can see the mix of modern houses, the old church, the castle, the trees, and the high-rise business buildings. A cross-section of the history of the city.DSCN0002_2

This was taken early in 2012 and the landscape has changed already. The trees on the castle slopes had already been removed but the roof is still on the building to the right of  Gediminas’s tower and if you could see down to the River Neris beyond the castle you would see more cranes as building work continues in the business district, already much developed since my first trip to Lithuania in 2005.


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The green, green, grass of home

On my last trip they were re-turfing the mound on which Gediminas’s Tower is built. That’s now finished as you can see from this photograph although they are still doing some work on the masonry at the base of the tower.DSC00004

Later taking a long shot from the bank of the River Neris across the Vytautas the Great bridge (with my new toy, a Sony 50x camera) something looked different. I thought perhaps they were renovating the rest of the castle on the left of the picture.DSC00162

It was only when I got home and compared the photograph with one I’d taken the previous June from the same vantage point that I realised that they had taken off the roof and roof tiles. They’d also removed the canopy to the right of the funicular.P1010251

Are they rebuilding it or making it look more authentic? I guess I’ll have to wait for my next visit to be certain.

I didn’t visit the castle on this trip but it’s always well worth it if only to get good views across the city.


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Just like going home………………..Vilnius!

This is the view in July 2013 after they had de-forested the slopes around the castle and were re-laying turf

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Vilnius Castle Vilnius Castle

My colleague and I are returning to Vilnius in Lithuania to do some work at Vilnius University next week. My last visit was about 5 months ago but he has not been for over twelve months, so it will be good to see the city again, all our friends and colleagues as well as re-acquaint ourselves with the various Svyturys beers!

© Photo courtesy of MS Guttridge

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Vilnius castle (Gediminas Tower) seen from the University bell-tower

DSC01154This is the view of the castle (through a telephoto lens) from the Vilnius University bell-tower which is part of the church of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist (Šv. Jonų bažnyčia).

You can get into the tower either from the university or by a gate on Šv. Jono g..

The tower is the tallest building in the Old Town at 68 m and the 360 view over the city is stunning (on a fine day; when it rains not so much).

DSC01143On the lower panoramic photo you can just see the Hill of Three Crosses and how heavily wooded the city is.


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A trip to the castle in Vilnius

Last time I went looking for a castle (in Germany) I ended up at the zoo. But that’s a different story.

In Vilnius you can’t really miss the castle, whether you are on Piles g. (Castle street), in the cathedral square, or across the river. On high ground surrounded by rivers you can see why this had been a defensible location since the bronze age. The wooden original was replaced by brick and rebuilt several times. In reality the part visitors refer to as the castle is the Gediminas Tower or Upper Castle as there were three castles making up the defensive complex originally (the lower castle included the cathedral and the Royal Palace of the Grand Dukes).

There are two ways to get into it. DSC00937You can either walk up the path which starts behind the newly reconstructed, but as yet not open to visitors, Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. You can just see where it starts at the bottom of the first picture and where you arrive in the next picture.

P1000373Or you can walk round the front of the cathedral, past the statues of the Three Kings, If you look up you can see that they are re-turfing the slope after taking out trees . You can see (RH Picture) how wooded it was last year and some locals liked it that way although it’s probably more historically correct now (it probably wasn’t a good idea to have trees too close to your castle providing cover and ammunition for you enemies).DSC00948 P1010276

Then walk past the statue of King Mindaugas outside the NationalMuseum, follow the road round  parallel to the river along Arsenalo g. and go in through the museum gates.

DSC01293P1000490There just past the mysterious stone (pagan?) figure in the grass you can take the funicular for 3 litas.

Once there you can have a wander round the battlements of Gedimas’ tower and take in a panoramic view of the city.

You can see the Hill of 3 Crosses and look over cathedral square or watch the River Neris wending it’s way through the city.

To get inside the castle costs another 5 litas (just over £1) and is good value for money.

DSC01262From the ground floor you have two options. You can walk up into a large room where there are a number of museum pieces, weapons and suits of armour – not all original although there is an interesting sword with the words “Free Polonia” engraved on it in Latin.

P1000499But for me the interesting things are the scale model dioramas showing how Vilnius and the castle complex used to look.

DSC01269DSC_0686The next floor is dedicated to the Baltic Way. There are photographs, a map and texts in different languages as well as a video running on a screen. There is also a large vertical Lithuanian flag (photo with kind permission of Kindadukish).

DSC01246From here you can also look out through the windows across the city.

To get on top of the tower you have to go back down and then negotiate your way up a narrow spiral staircase to the top. They’ve improved the exit in recent years so it’s weatherproof but on a busy day it’s a bit tricky squeezing past people.. No disabled access here.

And on a fine day the views are wonderful. Make the most of it and don’t forget your camera.

DSC01396DSC01397Finally on the way out we spotted something new. For 7 Litas you can buy a commemorative medallion. There are two designs, One is of the Grand Duke and one of the Tower. The obverse is the same on both, a map of Lithuania.

So no tacky souvenirs shop or coffee/tea shop, not even a vending machine. And long may it stay that way,

For 15 Litas – that’s less than £4 – it’s a value-for-money way to spend a couple of hours.

The castle is part of the National Museum of Lithuania and you can find more information on their website.