WELCOME to LITHUANIA

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Welcome To Lithuania

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Lithuania is a new and active member of the European Union (since May 1, 2004) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (since March 29, 2004). Lithuania is the only Baltic country with nearly eight hundred years of statehood tradition, while its name was first mentioned almost one thousand years ago, in 1009. Wedged at the dividing line of Western and Eastern civilizations, Lithuania battled dramatically for its independence and survival. Once in the Middle Ages, Lithuania was the largest state in the entire Eastern Europe, where crafts and overseas trade prospered.

In 1579, Vilnius University, an important scientific and education centre of the European scale, was opened. In 16th century, Lithuania adopted its First, Second and Third Statutes. Not only the Statutes were the backbone of the legislative system of the country, they had a major impact on legislation of other Euroean states of the time. Despite losing its independence, Lithuania managed to retain its Third Statute in effect for as many as 250 years, which was instrumental in preservation of national and civic self-awareness of the public. The Constitution of Lithuania-Poland together with the French Constitution, both adopted in 1791, were the first constitutions in Europe.
The first Byelorussian books, The Small Travel Book (1522) and Apostle (1525), were printed in Vilnius; the same is true about the first Latvian book, a translation of Catechism by Peter Canizius (1585). The capital of Lithuania was also the birthplace of the Polish national opera: Stanislaw Moniuszko wrote his Halka in Vilnius and first conducted it here (first public performance in 1847, premiere at the Vilnius Opera Theatre in 1854).
Vilnius has always been a multinational, multilingual, and multicultural European city. Trying to position itself as an informal political leader of the Baltic countries, Lithuania shares its own experiences in democratic developments with other countries of post-soviet block and takes active participation in the EU renewal processes. In April 2005, Vilnius hosted the meeting of 26 NATO foreign ministers.
Music is a truly universal language. The first opera performances in Lithuania were staged in early 17th century, just 20 yearsp after the genre was born. 18th century saw the emergence of manor theatres, ballet. The Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatreperformed its first opera premiere on the eve of 1923. Presently, the theatre stages from five to eight new theatre and ballet pieces every year. Simultaneously, the most notable works from the classical “golden fund” are preserved. Finest opera singers, masterful dancers, forceful direction and original stage design create truly memorable performances.
Spring marathon of musical festivals is kicked off by an elite Vilnius Festival with the most prominent classical music ensembles and jazz masters from all over the world participating each year. The venue then passes the baton to Pažaislis Festival of Classical and Sacred Music. Pažaislis Monastery, a genuine masterpiece of Baroque architecture in Lithuania, features central concerts of the festival; other performances are commonly held in churches and abbeys. The musical waves of the Christopher Summer Festival floods Vilnius and its environs with summer concerts. The festival skilfully blends the classical masters with avant-garde escapades, the cycles of piano and organ music with guitar performances. Altogether, festivals offer over 100 unique performances every year.
Expect fireworks of jam sessions at an international Kaunas Jazz FestivalBlues Nights on the Lūkstas Lake, Vilnius and Klaipėda jazz festivals. Excellent local jazz performers always make a fantastic discovery for those, who are unaware of the country’s jazz traditions. In the memory of the world-famous performer, jazz lovers in Lithuania erected a monument to Frank Zappa.
At least ten international folklore festivals are held during the summer months. Their performances attract crowds of spectators, dozens of ethnic congregations, hundreds of folk art exhibitions. Every four years, The Festival of Song (and Dance) gathers Lithuanians from all over the world into a colossal nationwide event of unsurpassed exuberance. The song festivals of the three Baltic countries are jointly included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Theatre. The first drama play in Lithuania was performed in 1570, at the theatre of the Palace of the Rulers. Theatre company of the Vilnius University (Jesuits’ College at that time) was born in the same year. Currently, Lithuania has 13 national theatres (8 drama theatres, 2 puppet-shows, 3 musical theatres) and 10 independent theatres and stage art formations. Lithuanian artistic directors are well-known and highly respected in the world. Eimuntas Nekrošius, a master of philosophical and visual expression, has boasted a title of the best European artistic director for several years already: all theatre lovers dream of seeing his Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello by William Shakespeare, or his latest work, The Song of Songs. At least as famous is Oskaras Koršunovas, an artistic director of his own avant-garde theatre. In a relatively short time, his plays collected awards at the most prestigious theatre festivals all around the world; his theatre company is a permanent participant of the Avignon Theatre Festival. Another great master of the stage is Rimas Tuminas, an artistic director of The Small Theatre of Vilnius, whose performances are admired by audiences of many countries. Intriguing are plays directed by Jonas Vaitkus and Gytis Padegimas. Apart from these, country’s theatres are alive with many talented directors and actors, who will sure make your day with meaningful or joyful performances. Lively and colourful is the movement of amateur theatres – there are nearly 1,500 amateur theatre companies in the country.
Arts. Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875–1911), undoubtedly the most famous Lithuanian painter, was also a gifted composer. His paintings, extremely hard to categorize under any single trend of art, are reputedly the most significant contribution of Lithuanian art to the global culture. His name was cited along with W. Kandinsky, E. Munch, O. Redon, F. Kupka and other most prominent modernists of the time. Kaunas is home to the museum-gallery dedicated to this artist.
Visiting exhibitions and galleries, you will be surprised how versatile a contemporary Lithuanian art is. Whether a master of figurative painting or colourist virtuoso, whether a minimalist philosopher or a poet of abstract stroke, everyone is distinct and unique. At one exhibition, you may suddenly find yourself participating in an avant-garde project, while another gallery may turn you into a ceramicist making yourself a commemorative medal. Works of figurative painter Augustinas Savickas, the patriarch of the contemporary Lithuanian art and a representative of figure painting, can be viewed at his own gallery in Vilnius; an extensive collection of the best painters of the country is presented at Vilnius ir Vilniečiai Gallery owned by Stasys Juškus. Most remarkable sculptors include Aloyzas Smilingis, Regimantas Midvikis, and Arūnas Sakalauskas. Tapestry by Feliksas Jakubauskas would adorn any textile exhibition anywhere in the world.

 

Interesting and rich are European Park (featuring over 100 works by world-renowned sculptors) and Vilnoja Sculpture Park (featuring works by artists from 40 countries) lying just outside Vilnius as well as open-air expositions in Klaipėda, Panevėžys, Ventės Ragas, Juodkrantė, etc.
There are over 200 art galleries and exhibition halls in the country. The Lithuanian Artists’ Association unites over 1500 professional artists.
Museums. Lithuanians, whose motherland had experienced such a dramatic history, protect and honour historical legacy and cultural heritage of their country. The National Museum of Lithuania, the oldest in the country, holds the largest repository of cultural heritage in the country. The Old Arsenal located nearby presents the prehistory of the Balts and origins of Lithuanian nation. An open-air Folk Museum in Rumšiškės represents four major ethnographic regions of the country.
The most valuable art collections are held in the Lithuanian Art Museum in the Chodkevičius (Chodkiewicz) and Radvila Palaces, K.Varnelis Home-museum, the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Vilnius, M.K.Čiurlionis National Art Museum, M.Žilinskas Picture Gallery in Kaunas, Klaipėda Picture Gallery.
Horrible repressions of Soviet period and World War II are reflected in the Museum of Genocide Victims, opened in the premises of former KGB headquarters, or the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum in Vilnius. Grūtas Park, an “exile camp” just outside Druskininkai, now features monuments of the Soviet leaders brought here from all over the country. Also visit the former missile-launching grounds of the Soviet Army found in the Žemaitija National Park.
Sport. Basketball is one of the most popular sports in our country. For millions of people all over the world, it was precisely basketball that put the name of Lithuania on the map together with its star players such as Arvydas Sabonis, Šarūnas Jasikevičius, Arvydas Macijauskas, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, coaches, referees and organizers. In a relatively short history of Lithuanian basketball (the first basketball game took place in 1922), the men’s national team won three Olympic bronze medals, three times was the European champion, and once earned European silver. The Lithuanian national women’s team also took gold and silver in European championships. Youth and junior basketball teams of Lithuania also are recent champions of Europe. Discus thrower Virgilijus Alekna won two Olympic Games; pentathlon athlete Andrejus Zadneprovskis is an Olympic silver medallist, while his teammate Edvinas Krungolcas won three European gold medals. The world’s strongest man also lives in Lithuania: Žydrūnas Savickas is the reigning champion and three-time winner of the Arnold Strongman title. Jurgis Kairys, the first man to fly in the sky to the music, is the world leader in aerobatics. Žuvėdra, the dance sport formation of unrivalled grace and expression, is a four-time world champion and five-time European champion.
Entertainment. Food is one of the true joys of life. The largest cities feature many of the world’s finest cuisines. Whether you wish to have a quick snack or eat out in style, it is always for you to choose: beer pubs deep down in the basement or out in the sunshine, cafes frequented by bohemia, youngsters or elegant public; luxurious restaurants decorated in a retro style or boasting modern interiors; a country-style seklyčiaoffering traditional food or an exotic dining establishment reminding us of the Soviet-era canteens. Smaller villages may lack some of the sophistication but they will definitely offer at least some European and national dishes. As far as Lithuanian beers are concerned, selected Lithuanian brews consistently win gold medals in the world beer competitions.
The night belongs to fun hunters. Choose live jazz or rock bands, vocal or instrumental performances, guitar or violin tunes – it is absolutely your call! Surrender yourself to the groovy beat of Latino or local folk music. It is the discos where the real passion and dancing spree goes, where the best western DJs are frequent guests. Night bars and clubs feature exciting night shows and peculiar striptease performances. Visit at least one casino and find out for real whether Lithuania is the gambler’s paradise. After all, the country lies in the very heart of Europe.

Welcome To Lithuania


city of VILNIUS

The ancestors of the Lithuanian nation – the Balts – were descended from the old native Europides who mixed with Indo-European tribes more than 4000 years ago. The Balts inhabited a vast area in Central and Eastern Europe. The old State of Lithuania, the Grand Duchy, was founded near the Baltic Sea and Vilnius was the main centre of the ethnic Baltic population.

Vilnius was the crossroads of important internal and international merchant routes which led from the Baltic to the Black Sea and from Western Europe to the Middle East. Castles built on these routes (the Upper, the Lower, the Curve and others) composed one of the most powerful complexes of castles in Central and Eastern Europe north of the Danube at the end of the 14th century.

The prosperity of Vilnius city is symbolized by a legend about a dream of the grand Duke Gediminas, in which he saw a roaring iron wolf on one of the numerous Vilnius hills, the roar of which was like the roar of a hundred wolves. The oldest Lithuanian prophet explained the dream to the ruler as meaning that the town’s reputation would spread far and wide.

The first king of the Lithuanian State, Mindaugas, accepted Christianity in 1251 and was crowned king in Vilnius Cathedral in 1253. In 1322-23, the Grand Duke Gediminas sent his famous letters to the Pope, West European monasteries and towns all the way to “Rome itself², in which the old Lithuanian spiritual culture was represented. He condemned aggressive invaders, fostered international co-operation and declared tolerance of diverse religions and views.

The Grand Duke Vytautas the Great was the most prominent founder of Lithuanian might, the organizer and leader of the Battle of Tannenberg, the greatest battle against the Teutonic Order. He stopped Tartar aggression in the East and was considered to be one of the leading politicians in southeast policy (in the presence of the growing Tartar threat).

In 1387 the Lithuanian state adopted Christianity and the City of Vilnius received Magdeburg rights.

In the 16th century, the Lithuanian rulers’ palace was a famous hearth of science and culture with treasures that, according to a Papal nuncio in 1560, were hardly surpassed by the treasures of Venice and the Vatican. One of the greatest scientific libraries was established there. Later the books were handed over to the Jesuit Collegium, founded in 1570, and finally to the library of Vilnius University (the first university in Eastern Europe).

The 16th and the first part of the 17th century witnessed the flourishing of the Renaissance town, the capital of Lithuania. Operas were staged in Vilnius and the numerous orchestras, accompanying delegations from Lithuania, surprised people in Western Europe. International relations were rapidly expanding and as a result of a certain similarity between the Latin and Lithuanian languages, Lithuanian literature in Latin.

In the 19th century, Vilnius continued to maintain its position as the real hearth of science and culture in Eastern Europe.

Lithuania has now gained world-wide recognition. It became a nember of NATO on 17th September 1991. The capital is listed in the World Heritage Register of UNESCO. The Old Part of Vilnius is among the most prominent monuments of culture in the world. Epoch-making European styles have left their distinct traces in the city’s architecture: Gothic, Renaissance, baroque and classical. The group of churches of St Ann, St Bernardine and St Michael form an impressive monument to the Gothic and Renaissance styles and are a distinctive feature of the architecture of Old Vilnius. The brick gothic facade of St Ann’s church has no equal in the whole of Eastern Europe. The Church of St Peter and St Paul is an example of late baroque architecture and sculpture. St Casimir’s church is a marvellous monument of baroque architecture which gave rise to the construction of buildings with domes. The museums of the Upper and the Lower Castles, the Cathedral and the Bell Tower commemorate the foundation of the Capital City. The Radvilu Palace, the Chodkeviciu Palace and the M.K. Ciurlionis house-museum introduce famous personalities in Vilnius and cultural riches which were gathered in Vilnius throughout the centuries. By contrast the KGB Museum records the horrors of post-World War II times.

The modern culture of Vilnius fully reflects the diversity of city life. Evenings of classical music and competitions are held at the Philharmonic Society Hall. Operas, ballets and plays are staged at the Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Youth Theatre, the Academic Drama Theatre. There are seven art galleries and a modern art centre where it is possible to get to know the works of Lithuanian artists and to purchase the work you like. The Lithuanian capital is famous for its commercial fairs and exhibitions.

Almost all hotels and a dormitory for young people are situated in the central part of the city. There are many restaurants and cafés where you can find a great variety of different foods, from Lithuanian to East European or North American dishes.

There are plenty of shops and department stores selling high-quality goods from all over the world and open twenty-four hours a day. There are several antique shops. Private clinics and beauty salons are rapidly expanding their activities.

The banks in Vilnius are concentrated in the Old Town. There are many currency exchange cenres. One can obtain goods and services using credit cards and travel cheques.

Foreign embassies, business representations and agencies are also being established in the centre of the city.

Vilnius is the gateway to Lithuania and the Baltic States, being situated in an advantageous geographical location in Europe. The airport is within half an hour of the centre of the city. It has direct links with 18 cities and there is regular bus service to 7 countries.

Vilnius is famous not only for its historical past, monuments, churches and green surroundings. There are also many industrial enterprises with an educated labour force. Highly qualified workers produce goods of high precision and quality that use little labour and raw materials: metal-processing machine-tools, calculation and computing facilities, electro-technical and electronic engineering, diesel engines, fuel pumps and systems, etc. At the present time, the free-market economy has basically changed the requirements and manufactured products have to be competitive on the market and to meet consumer demands. The major part of enterprises have had to change their production demands and technology or reconstruct their management. Many prospective investment projects for renewing and expanding production volume, variety and exports are being implemented. However, it has proved difficult to attract the required enormous amount of investment for renewal and reconstruction of the production process in the plants themselves. Therefore, foreign investments of different types of joint ventures, is especially significant and welcome.

Vilnius will always welcome you, no matter where you come from. It makes no difference what brings you to Vilnius: business, relaxation or simple curiosity – this city will steal your heart so fast that one will find that there’s always too little time to discover its entirely.

Old Town of Vilnius

The Old Town, the historical centre of Vilnius, is one of the largest in Eastern Europe (360 ha). The most valuable historic and cultural heritage is concentrated here. The buildings in the old town – of which there are about 1.5 thousand – were built over a number of centuries, resulting in a mixture of all European architectural styles. Although Vilnius is often called a baroque city, you will find here examples of the Gothic, Renaissance and other styles. The main sights of the city are Gediminas Castle and the Cathedral Square, the symbols of the capital. Together, they comprise the gateway to the historic city centre. In recognition of its unique character, the Old Town of Vilnius was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.

Vilnius sights

Vilnius University is one of the oldest and most famous among universities in Eastern Europe. University of Vilnius was founded in 1579 and it soon became an imporant scientific and cultural centre in Europe. Being the only institution of higher education in Lithuania for quite a long time, Vilnius University has influenced by cultural life of many neighboring countries. Many famous poets, scientists, people of culture have studied here. One of them is Nobel Prize winning poet Czeslaw Milosz. Vilnius University ensemble combines many architectural styles – Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism.

Gates of Dawn in Vilnius

The Gates of Dawn (Aušros Vartai) were built in 1514. The Gates of Dawn is the only remaining Gate of the medieval Vilnius defensive wall. City of Vilnius had ten of them. The Chapel in the Gates of Dawn attracts throngs of pilgrims to come to see the miraculous picture of the Mother of God.

Gediminas Castle in Vilnius

Gediminas castle is a relict of the Higher Castle build in the XIIIth-XVth century. A red brick castle on a high hill is one of the main symbols of Vilnius. Gediminas castle today is a museum where you can see the models of the former castle ensemble, armour, ancient coins. A beautiful panorama of the pictureque Old Town and Vilnius city can be viewed from the top of the Gediminas Castle.

The Three Crosses in Vilnius Lithuania

The Three Crosses are among the main symbols of Vilnius.

There are many legends about the Three Crosses buit on a high hill near the Gediminas Castle. One of legens says that the Three Crosses were buit to remember seven maryred Franciscan missionaries. Historians confirm that this is all fiction. It is believed that the first wooden crosses were built in the beginning of the XVIIth century and later frequently renewed. The Soviet government blew them up at 1951. The current Three Crosses were built in 1989, after the so called „singing revolution“.

Town Hall of Vilnius

Town Hall of Vilnius stands in the very center of Old Town of Vilnius. The Town Hall is one of the most beautiful buildings in Vilnius, designed by L.Stuoka – Gucevičius in 1786. City hall square now is a place of main public and entertainment events of Vilnius (New Year and Christmas events and concerts, Christmas markets ec).

The Presidential Palace – Vilnius, Lithuania

The Presidential Palace is one of the most beautiful and prestigious buildings in Vilnius. The XIVth century palace was reconstructed and redecorated by every owner from XIVth to XIXth century, while the building acquired its present appearance in 1832.

Vilnius Užupis

Vilnius Užupis is one of the main places to visit in Vilnius. After crossing a little bridge near St. Anne‘s Church, you will enter …Vilnius Užupis Republic! Many centuries known as a suburb of poor people and prostitutes, Užupis was occupied by artists in 1997. They declared Užupis a Republic – with its own constitution, president, events and even road signs! Due to the Bohemian spirit Vilnius Užupis is frequently being called the Vilnius Montmartre.


Facts about Lithuania

Area: 650 200 sq. km.

Population: 3 390 000 (year 2006)

Coat of arms and flag:

ltFlag

Language:

Official language– Lithuanian, which is the member of Baltic language group (other 2 members are Latvian, and dead Prussian language). It is the most archaic language from all the Indo-European languages.

Religion:

Lithuania is considered to be very religious country, sometimes named as “The land of Virgin Mary”. Today 79 percent of Lithuanians consider themselves as Roman Catholics.

Currency:

The currency of Lithuania Republic is Lithuanian Litas. 1 LTL = 100 centas

(1 Euro = 3,45 Lt).

Political system:

Lithuanian Republic is the parliamentary democracy. The head of state is The President. Executive authority is Prime minister and the cabinet, and the legislative power is in the hands of Seimas (the parliament)

Neighbors

Latvia (land border – 588 km, sea border – 22 km)

Byelorussia (border – 677 km)

Poland (border – 104 km)

Russia (Kaliningrad) (land border – 255 km, border in Curonian sea – 18 km, sea border– 22 km)

Seaside:

Whole shore is 90 km long. The most unique part of seaside is the Curonian split – the peninsula, which starts in Kaliningrad and creates the Curonian sea.

Lakes:

Biggest lakes in Lithuania:

Drūkšiai – 44,8 sq. km

Dysnai – 24 sq. km

Dusia – 23,3 sq. km

Rivers:

Total length of rivers in Lithuania is 76 800 km. Longest rivers:

Nemunas – 475 km in Lithuania (total 937)

Nėris – 234 km (510)

Venta – 161 km (343)

Forests:

Forests and bushes cover 30 percent of area.

Relief:

Lithuania is the country of flat lands, they cover about 75 percents of country.

Administrative division:

Lithuania is divided in 10 counties, that are subdivided into 60 municipalities. Municipalities are devided into 546 townships.

Cities:

The biggest cities in Lithuania:

Vilnius – 541 824 pop.

Kaunas – 360 637 pop.

Klaipėda – 187 316 pop.

Arrival: airport – Vilnius International Airport VNO (5 km of city centre), Kaunas Airport (90 km of Vilnius), Vilnius Railway Station, Vilnius Bus Station

Climate: In-between continental and maritime climate the average temperature in January is -4.9°C and in July +17°C

Electricity: 220 V

Language: the national language is Lithuanian, but the city is English-friendly, also Russian is likely to be spoken, especially by older generation

Phone Area Code: 370 (Lithuania) 5 (Vilnius)

Population: 554,400 (Vilnius County 847,754)

Time: GMT+2 (DST GMT+3)

Where: 54°41″ N. 25°17″ E.


Links:

http://lietuva.lt

http://www.travel.lt

http://www.vilnius-tourism.lt

http://www.vilnius-life.com

http://www.vilniuscitytour.com

http://www.welcometo.lt

http://www.lithuania-photo.com