Come to Vilnius to find the Europe!
Vilnius is a city of many faces, of many names, of mysteries and contradictions. The medieval Germans called it wilde, whereas the Jews of the world recall it as the Northern Jerusalem, and we ourselves would sometimes like to call it the Athens of the North. Some are surprised to find this gem of the Italian Baroque, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, in such a remote corner of the Europe, but in fact it is less than 20 kilometres from the geographic centre of Europe.
Historically it has consisted of four quarters – Catholic Lithuanian and Polish, Protestant German, Jewish and Orthodox Russian. There are so many cultures and national influences entangled and though today Vilnius is very much Lithuanian, but at the same time it is like a miniature Europe in one town. You are not convinced? Come and discover it yourselves.
And you might find Vilnius very Catholic, Lithuanian and Polish, since it is the city of Saint Casimir, with the annual fair of the patron saint, with verbas, relics, the miraculous image of Our Lady of the Dawn Gates, Italian Baroque and, of course, with the famous Vilnius University, founded by the Jesuit Order and counting among its alumni two classics of world poetry – Adam Mickiewicz and the Nobelist Czesław Miłosz.
Or it might appear very German – orderly, clean, with outdoor taverns in Town Hall square, the German street and at the feet of the beautiful churches in “Vilnius’ Baroque style’ by Austrian Johann Christoph Glaubitz which often house magnificent classical concerts. The city has old musical traditions and was the home of the Ludwig van Beethoven’s muse Christine Gerhardi Frank, thought to be the mysterious “immortal beloved”, the home of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis and the scene of discovery of the prodigy Jascha Heifetz. Today, Lithuanian classical musicians and vocalists perform on the world famous stages.
Perhaps you will trace the Jewish past of Vilnius – it is a city of the Gaon of Vilna, one of the world’s greatest thinkers and theologists, a city important to the Jewry of the Central Europe from the 14th century, a city, who, through expatriate descendants gave many famous people to the world. And many works of art – from Romain Gary‘s La Promesse de l‘aube, to paintings by Marc Chagall and Chaim Soutine.
If you will visit in snowy winter, the city could look slavonic – with Orthodox churches and their domes, with fur-clad pedestrians. Many prominent Russians, such as painter Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, poet Joseph Brodsky, composer Rodion Shchedrin, fell in love with Vilnius for its familiarity and Western otherness.
We have promised – the picturesque Vilnius is a city of many faces, many names and curiosities.
Come to Vilnius to find the Europe, come to Vilnius to find your inspiration. Come to Vilnius to fall in love.
Novelist and art historian, laureate of Vilnius’ Saint Christopher’s Award
More information coming soon
More information coming soon!
More information coming soon
More information coming soon
Local time is GMT+2
European style two-pin sockets at 220 volts AC, 50Hz.
Lithuanian is the official language, but Russian and English are widely spoken.
The only real health risks associated with visiting Lithuania are for those intending to visit forested areas, who are advised to take the necessary precautions against tick-borne encephalitis. Nevertheless, your doctor may advise that you are vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, and that if you are travelling to Lithuania between November and April you also get an influenza vaccination, and those who are at any risk of animal bites or plan to spend a lot of time outdoors should consider a rabies vaccination.
EU citizens are entitled to emergency medical treatment if they have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from their country of origin. Medical facilities are fair and there are plenty of doctors. There are a few private clinics of high standard.
Tipping is not required as a matter of course, but is appreciated for exceptionally good service. Rounding up the bill to avoid accumulating small change is customary.
Safety in Lithuania is not a major issue for travellers as the country is devoid of civil unrest and the terrorism threat is low.
Business in Lithuania is usually conducted formally, though the younger generation is less conservative. Face-to-face meetings are key, with good eye contact and a firm handshake upon greeting. Business cards are usually exchanged and it is important to be punctual. Use titles and surnames, unless otherwise indicated. Suits and ties are the norm. Lithuanians are hospitable and friendly and any invitation should be accepted, as this is a good opportunity to forge better business relations and build trust. Meetings tend to start with some small talk and can sometimes end with a summary of the discussions, though decision making and results can be slow. Business hours are usually from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm Monday to Friday.
The international dialling code for Lithuania is +370. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK) and the country has three-digit area codes. There are three major mobile GSM network service providers and connections are excellent. The Internet is well established in Lithuania and cities teem with internet cafes. Small towns and villages have public internet access points in libraries, post offices and tourist information centres.
Duty free allowances for travellers to Lithuania include 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco; 1 litre spirits, 2 litres wine or 5 litres beer; perfume for personal use.