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Travel Europe Lithuania Vilnius - city of churches and monasteries

Vilnius - city of churches and monasteries

Vilnius, Lithuania, Europe, Three Crosses close view

Since the founding of Vilnius, religion has played a decisive role in its history. Before the German troops to enter the town, in 1941, Vilnius was one of the main centers of Jewish culture in Europe.

According to legend, in 1323 the founder of Vilnius, Gediminas, spent a night at the confluence of rivers Neris and Vilna, and in the dream, a wolf howling shown incessantly. When, the next day, a heathen priest interpreted the dream as an ominous sign of power and happiness, the leader decided to build a settlement on the site where the rest had done. He gave the name "Vilkas" which in Lithuanian means wolf.

Lithuania has long history connected with that of its neighbors, Russia and Poland. Because of union with Poland, the Catholic religion entered Vilnius since the late fourteenth century. In town, there appeared many monastic orders, which founded monasteries, and raised churches. Due to its advantageous position at the crossroads of trade routes, "city of seven hills" in the sixteenth century became one of the richest cities of Central and Eastern Europe. Vilnius due to Jesuits, established the University City, which flourished especially in the second half of the sixteenth century. In the centuries that followed, the capital was caught in vortex of history. It was robbed and destroyed twice (first during the wars between 1655 and 1660 north, then the armies of Napoleon), losing its political importance. In 1921, after joining the Polish state after the Polish-Soviet war, the city lost its capital status.

For centuries, Vilnius was one of the main centers of Jewish culture in Europe, being called, not without reason, "Eastern Jerusalem". After the Wehrmacht troops entered the city, in 1941, the Germans organized the deportation of the population forced to concentration camps. Almost a third of city residents have died, including almost all the Jews who lived here.

Sightseeing Vilnius should start from the 'Castle Mountain'. Upper Castle, built in the fourteenth century, burned in a fire in 1419, and fell into oblivion after restoration. Currently, its walls are home to the castle museum. From initial construction has been preserved until today only octagonal tower defense, named in honor of the founder of Vilnius Gediminas. East of the castle, the small river flowing waters Vilna, this flows a little further in Neris. Before pouring, however, the river meanders along the Three Cross Hill, around which lies, Kalnu Park, with its hilly terrain. This is just one of many "green lungs" of the Lithuanian capital.

Vilnius became early on a center of Christian faith and downtown, have been raised numerous places of worship. Southwest of the park Kalnu, raises St. Anne Church, probably the most beautiful sacred building in Vilnius. It was built in XV century in Gothic style and the decoration was used over thirty different types of bricks. On to conquer Russia, Emperor Napoleon passed through fire and swords Vilnius city, but was so impressed by the architecture, the portal and facade of the church St. Anne, that he ordered it to be spared. This place of worship defines the aesthetic side of the old town of Vilnius, one of the largest and most beautiful in Central and Eastern Europe. Halfway between employer Lithuanian church, St. Casimir, and the cathedral north of the town, raises the most remarkable example of secular architecture in Vilnius: University, dating from the middle Ages.

What deserves viewed:
- University;
- St. Stanislas and St. Vladislas Cathedrals;
- City Hall;
- Bishop's Palace;
- Church of St. Anne;
- Church of the Holy Spirit;
- Church Bernardini;
- Church of St. Michael;
- Church of St. Casimir;
- Church of St. John;
- Church of Saints Peter and Paul Antakalnis;
- Monastery and Church of baziliens (place where the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz was imprisoned);
- Ausra Gate and chapel with painting Mother of God;
- Rasos Cemetery;
- The ruins of the Upper Castle (Gediminas Tower);
- Three Cross Hill;
- National Museum.

What you should know:

1) The three large crosses and white on the 'Hill of Three Crosses' were erected in memory of seven murdered monks in the seventeenth century: four of them were drowned in the river Vilna, and the other three were crucified;
2) After long years of forced submission to the USSR, Lithuania led by reformist movement Sajudis, gained independence in 1991. Not even the intervention of the Red Army, which entered the city in that year and briefly occupied the local TV tower, couldn’t prevent it;
3) KGB Museum, arranged in the former Soviet secret service building, documenting the inhuman methods of interrogation used by them;
4) Of the nearly one hundred synagogues that once existed in Vilnius, only one has survived until today.