THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Text: Giedre Paliusytė
Lithuania is a beautiful country, situated at the western end of the East European Plain, on the endless white sand southern shores of the Baltic Sea. Though Lithuania is small. It is, for example, almost 148 times smaller than China and has only 3,5 million inhabitants – which is almost 444 times less than China. Still Lithuania has amazingly much to offer...
Everything is possible here! You can spend your time actively or find a place to relax in untouched nature; choose from a plethora of cultural events, explore the cities-open air museums and much more!
Why did I compare Lithuania to China? In 2010 Lithuania took part in the global exhibition Expo in China, Shanghai. Over 5 million people visited Lithuania’s Pavilion. For many of them it was the first acquaintance with this unknown, far away country which the exhibition visitors found definitely worth visiting! A hot air balloon was chosen as the symbol for Lithuania’s pavilion. Visitors of the exhibition were invited to take an impressive virtual flight... But Lithuania itself is nothing but hot air!
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Reasons to visit us in 2011?
The European Basketball Championship 2011 will be held right here, In Lithuania!!!
For a large part of Lithuanians Basketball is more than a game, we can even hear people calling it our “second religion”. Lithuanians know how to support their teams and how to celebrate victories.
If you are not sworn enemies with this a game, you probably know that one of the most important events for Lithuania this year will be the European Basketball Championship 2011. Lithuania will be hosting the European Basketball Championship for the second time in countries history - the first was a tumultuous 1939.
Host cities will be Alytus, Klaipeda, Kaunas, Siauliai, Panevezys and Vilnius. First tickets will go trade in March 2011.
For more information about the European Basketball Championship of 2011 please see FIBA EUROPE.
An independent republic in the middle
of the city!
The (un)official Independence Day of Republic of Užupis is a celebration for everyone!
Almost fourteen years ago a district of Vilnius Old Town Užupis started celebrating its Independence Day. This year on April 1st we will again be able to spend a day partying, observing and learning to make traditional handicrafts, exploring the district that has its own president, a constitution and is one of the coziest parts of Vilnius, the UNESCO-listed capital of Lithuania.
Užupis is often being compared to Montmartre in Paris, or Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen because of its artistic atmosphere, events and people who living and creating there.
International Hanseatic in Kaunas May
From May 19 to 22 International Hanseatic days will rock the Kaunas city. Guests from about 100 cities in Europe will come to contribute to the feast and celebrate together. More than 100 different events will take place and all of them will all be for free!
Most Lithuanians are very much interested in their history old customs and traditions, they want to keep them and demonstrate them to their friends and guests from other countries on numerous occasions.
For more information please see: http://www.hanzakaunas.lt/
VILNIUS – LITHUANIA’S VIBRANT CAPITAL
Vilnius is a city full of color, with a historic centre registered in the Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, and for a good reason. The countless Baroque churches, narrow cobblestone streets, impressive squares and some unusual sites such as the statue of Frank Zappa, a statue of a giant egg or of a mermaid, artistic districts, mysterious legends and true stories gives it the right to be called the most funky destination in Northern Europe!
Vilnius Old Town’s Pilies gatve (Tower St.), The street is filled with life, people and music year around!
The capital of Lithuania – Vilnius, is a place where history, culture and new tendencies in culture and politics can be felt. A medieval castle and the centre of the city and the remains of the defensive wall reminds us of the XIII century when pagan Lithuania had to withstand direct campaigns of Teutonic Knights. The Cathedral of Vilnius– is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania and also is the place where the movement for independence from the Soviet Union began in 1989. The Old Town of Vilnius is a World Heritage site where you can find architecture examples of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern architecture. Lithuania is an Independent country since 2004 a member of European Union and NATO.
In 1994, the Old Town of Vilnius was included in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. It is one of the largest (comprising around 360 ha) and most scenic old towns in Europe, founded by Grand Duke Gediminas in 1323 (you can see the last existing tower of the former fortress with his name on the hilltop at the street end).
Vilnius’ light-coloured manors and church towers remind one of the of the old rich Italian cities such as Rome and Florence. Vilnius is the most northward capital-city having inherited the architecture styles of the Mediterranean, and is sometimes referred to as the world’s most Italian city outside Italy.
Vilnius of the 14th and 17th centuries is considered the major European cultural and educational centre of Western civilisation that reached farthest into the East. The Old Town of the capital reflects the apogee of the city grandeur and beauty of this period, while the rapidly growing Vilnius of today, with its around 600,000 inhabitants, is found among the world’s 20 most remarkable cities - that should not be missed by any world traveller.
THE VILNIUS CHURCHES AND SHRINES – DON’T MISS THEM!
The St. Peter and Paul Church, The Orthodox church of Holy Mother of God
Vilnius has been known as the city of churches since the Middle Ages, several dozen of them can be found in the Old Town alone. Almost every style of architecture can be found in the churches and shrines of many religions in the city: gothic, renaissance, baroque and classicism. The Cathedral of Vilnius (top picture), from which we invite you to start the tour, is the most important piece of 18th century classical architecture.
These are the churches and shrines you simply have to see while visiting Vilnius:
|- The Vilnius Cathedral
- St. Anne's and Bernadines' Churches
- The Church of St.Michael
- The Orthodox Church of St. Paraskeva
- Sts. John‘s Church
- The Temple of God‘s Mercifulness
- The Church of the Holy Spirit
- The Great Vilnius Synagogue Place
|- The Evangelical Lutheran Church
- The Church of St.Michael the Archangel
- St. Casimir‘s Church
- The Church of the Holy Trinity
- The Church of the Holy Spirit
- The Church of St. Teresa
- The Gate of Dawn
- The St. Peter and Paul Church
LITHUANIAN SCIENCE, CULTURE AND MORE…
When Vilnius University (above) opened its doors in 1579 this became another strong manifestation of Lithuania’s strong position as a leading nation for fine intellectualism in Eastern and Central Europe.
Vilnius University is the oldest and largest Lithuanian higher education institution, an active participant in international scientific and academic activities and boasts many prominent scientists, professors and graduates.
Let the amazing University Library be your starting point for a study of Lithuania’s many roles within science and intellectual development fields…
Eimuntas Nekrosius is one of the best theatre directors in Lithuania. I Chose him to represent countries rich cultural life. I believe you will be surprised seeing what a variety this country has to offer – with several well-known professional symphonic and chamber orchestras, choirs, opera singers, ballet dancers and artists within many fields. Cultural events take place all year around; marvellous summer festivals of classical music, theatre, cinema and poetry performances by many Lithuanian and foreign artists, and much, much more. Lithuania is also widely known as a jazz country, famous for its several international jazz festivals organized by jazz performers and fans in several cities.
TRAKAI – LITHUANIA’S MEDIEVAL CAPITAL
You can’t leave Lithuania without visiting Trakai! It is located in one of Lithuania’s picturesque lake districts, just 30 km from Vilnius. Trakai was the administrative, economic and defensive centre of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the beginning of the 14th c. The majestic Gothic castle on an island on Galve Lake is the only castle surrounded by water in Eastern and Central Europe. Inside the castle, there is the Trakai Historic Museum where visitors can see old armament collections as well as other historic exhibits. Also worthwhile seeing is the Karaim quarter with its restaurants originating from the Black Sea area!
DRUSKININKAI AND GRUTAS PARK (LENIN’S NEW HOME)
ABOVE LEFT: DRUSKININKAI IS LITHUANIA’S SPA CAPITAL
Druskininkai is Lithuania’s spa capital since the 19th century. This is the place you simply have to go to if you need any sort of treatment for your soul or body. Thousands of others, from around the globe, are already cured!
For more information see http://info.druskininkai.lt/
MEETING LENIN FACE-TO-FACE
The Grutas Park in Druskininkai includes statues of Lenin and many other Soviet leaders, all removed from their former official locations in the wake of Lithuania’s regained freedom in 1990 – 1991. We got them, didn’t we?
At the gate to Grutas Park you will be met by Soviet militiamen and soldiers. Well inside the park you will meet them face to face – the individuals Lithuanians and many around the world learned to hate for their cruel, gruesome behaviour to innocent people. You may also feel as if you are in a Siberian concentration camp in the section of the Park that is surrounded by a moat and barbed wire fences with watch-towers. The atmosphere of a Soviet canteen permeates
the park café where the food is served in metal bowls. The aluminium cutlery is a popular souvenir.
For more information see http://www.grutoparkas.lt/
KAUNAS – LITHUANIA’S PRE-WAR CAPITAL
Kaunas Old Town is an amazingly lively and attractive place to be. Have you been there?
Kaunas is the second largest city in Lithuania, with a population of around 415,000. Kaunas was founded in the 12th century and owes its existence to its favourable geographic position at the confluence of Lithuania’s two biggest rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris, 100 km from Vilnius and 200 km from the port city Klaipeda. Kaunas was the capital of Lithuania between 1st and 2nd World War, when Vilnius was occupied by Poland. Kaunas enjoys a remarkable Old Town which is a concentration of ancient architectural monuments: the remnants of the 13th century Castle, the Cathedral, the Jesuit and St. Trinity Churches as well as the Old Town Hall, nicknamed the "White Swan" for its charming architecture. The Old Town Hall Square, the most important architectural accent of the Old Town, is reminiscent of the Middle Ages with the early Gothic Vytautas Church and the late Gothic Perkunas House not far away. The Old Town squares and buildings of the surrounding streets are brisk with numerous restaurants, bars and cafes as well as art galleries and Lithuanian folk art souvenir shops, popular among tourists.
LITHUANIAN LANDSCAPES – NEMUNAS RIVER
Mingė often nicknamed Lithuanian Venice is a unique fishermen's village where the main "road" is the river!
Lithuania has a diverse landscape - three hilly uplands, and three lowlands plains. The highest point is Juozapine Hill, not far from Vilnius; it rises to 293.6 meters above sea level. There are over 4,000 lakes and 722 rivers in this country. The longest river is the Nemunas (above), which is 937 km long totally whereas its length through Lithuania is 457 km.
But these are only the hard facts. The Lithuanian countryside is so much more than just facts. It is only when you begin your walk through the woods here, as you slowly float down one of the rivers in a canoe or a raft, when you sit down at one of the many amazing lakes, or when you first put your foot down in the Baltic Sea’s salty water that you really understand that this country is different. It is now, in the year of 2010, that you will have the great opportunity of feeling close to Lithuania's highly inspirational nature. Why wait?
SIAULIAI – THE HILL OF CROSSES
The Hill of Crosses near Siauliai city in North Lithuania is a most unique historic site where, except for some intervals, people have been continuously building crosses since the 19th century, asking for celestial help or paying back for it.
Today, there are over 200,000 crosses that have been counted on the site including fine artefacts by local folk artists as well as plain wooden crosses. ]At the Hill of Crosses, one can also see pope John Paul’s II cross made by a Lithuanian folk artist and built during the pope’s visit to Lituania in 1993.
There is a place in Lithuania, which is named “Hill of croses”. Why this place is so popular? Because in one place here you can find thousand of croses. This hill is a symbol of faith. Every year here are coming a lot of people and leaving at least a small cross in token of hopes and dreams, which comes true.
PALANGA – THE LIVELY BALTIC SEA RESORT
You can be at the Baltic Sea’s most attractive beaches only a few minutes after landing at Palanga Airport!
If you want to have a calm holiday at an empty beach, then don't expect to find this in Palanga during the mid-summer months. Here, the beaches are always crowded, even in the evenings. If you like crowds of vibrant people at the beach, music, rhythms, games; then Palanga is for you. Though, at the end of the summer and in September, when the weather is still summer-like, the beach is less crowded and you can enjoy a much calmer atmosphere.
There are, however, a lot of other beaches nearby that are much less crowded also during the summer months, if that would be more to your preference. After all, Lithuania has the very top beaches of the Baltic Sea and Nordic area, with around 100 km soft, white sand beaches, all around 50 m wide and with the clear blue sea waves constantly rolling softly in… Did I mention that the country is called Lithuania?
KLAIPEDA – THE HANSEATIC SEAPORT CITY
Klaipėda city (population around 200,000) is the northernmost ice-free port of the Baltic Sea; an outstandingly important sea port and commercial centre since the 13th century. The 1st of August 1252 is considered to be the date Klaipėda was founded. In 1257 the city was granted the Lübeck City Rights
By its old architecture this seaport city is close to the Nordic Countries and Germany; the Hanseatic styles and league. Some of the buildings that have survived in the cosy Old Town have a pronounced Fachwerk style.
Klaipėda cherishes nice marine traditions; it has hosted the Sea Festival on the last weekend of July every year since 1934,
an event that includes a number of performances of artistic companies and craftsmen’s fairs. The festival attracts many participants and guests not only from Lithuania but from abroad, too. The Kopgalis Fort complex, built in the 19th century, houses the Maritime Museum with an attractive exposition of marine nature and the history of navigation. These unique structures also accommodate a rich Aquarium and a Dolphinarium hosting shows of trained dolphins and Californian sea lions, which attract many spectators.
THE CURONIAN SPIT AND NERINGA
The Curonian Spit (Neringa) is a long and narrow sand peninsula that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. This natural wonder, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, still exists today solely due to human efforts to counter the natural erosion process. The Neringa landscape is truly unique, dominated by picturesque sand dunes and pristine beaches. The area has a distinct ethnographic flavour, characterised by wooden fishermen cottages and the local
speciality of smoked fish. Those looking for a quiet seaside vacation in picturesque surroundings will most definitely not be disappointed.
The huge sand dunes of the Curonian spit are the largest in North Europe.
You reach them by ferry from Klaipeda (takes only 10 min).
NIDA – THE FORMER FISHERMEN’S VILLAGE
The Nida home of the German writer Thomas Mann, today the Thomas Mann Museum.
The quiet resort village of Nida is based at the Curonian Spit near the Kaliningrad border, less than one hour’s drive from Klaipeda. With a beautiful Baltic Sea beach on the west side, the large Curonian Lagoon on the east side and the largest sand dunes of Northern Europe on the southern side, this is a truly unique place for a relaxed vacation. You should spend one or two weeks in a self catering Fisherman's cottage or a few days in a guest house or hotel. Take it easy!
"I have never visited anywhere that had such a relaxing effect on me as the view from the sun clock on the Great Dune
in Nida. The silky-smooth lagoon to one side of the golden spit and the sparkling waves of the Baltic Sea to the other side was breath-takingly beautiful. We did lots of walking, running and cycling including a walk along the Baltic Sea beach from west of Preila back to Nida”.
- The Barrett Family
THE CURONIAN LAGOON
The Curonian Lagoon is separated from the Baltic Sea by the Curonian Spit. Its surface area is 1,619 square kilometres. The Nemunas River supplies about 90% of its inflows; its watershed consists of 100,450 square kilometres in Lithuania, Belarus, and the Kaliningrad Oblast. At the northern end of the Spit, there is a passage to the Baltic Sea, and the place was chosen by the Teutonic Knights in 1252 to found Memelburg castle and the city of Memel. The Lagoon, formed about 7,000 years BC, is classified as brackish. Water depths average is 3.8 meters.
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