22 February 2018
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Vilnius catches and changes your soul!

 - Daniil Granin, Russian writer





ABOVE: My first project in Vilnius Old Town was to transform an old building that was one of the most dilapidated ones, almost in ruins,  into a modern office building. Lithuanian building products were then still of Soviet quality, so I had to import windows, doors and most other products from Norway. Still I believe this building came to play an important role as an example for later renovation projects by local architects, developers and construction companies. But the building also taught me something about Vilnius and Lithuania, i.e. through the fragments of ancient paint we found on the building façades; layer upon layer of colour and treatment materials applied over hundreds of years. For me this was concrete evidences that gave me a deeper impression and understanding of the multifaceted history this country has been through. It was as if the paint layers spoke to me from Lithuania's past centuries of successes and failures. 


Dear VilNews readers,

I am very pleased with the good response and comments we have received from many of you, and I hope you all will continue to comment and engage in the Lithuanian related topics we are bringing up! Many of you reading this today are new readers of VilNews. You are all warmly welcome to our group of readers, and I am happy to see that we are getting new subscribers every day now!

I started to work as a journalist 35 years ago, when I began writing for one of Norway's leading newspapers, and I have since covered quite a few different fields such as politics, foreign affairs and architecture. But an architect I really am, educated at the Norwegian Technical University and with additional education in 'architectural psychology' in Strasbourg, France. One of my main interests has been the preservation of older buildings and urban environments, and I am particularly focusing on a holistic approach to architecture, this that the space between the buildings, the streets and squares, is emphasized and thoroughly planned as much as the buildings themselves. And I am always concerned about the human dimension; that there should be created and maintained environments in which humans and human activities are given priority over cars and asphalt.

It was therefore no wonder that I fell in love with Vilnius Old Town immediately when I first came here in 1990, and I give Russian writer Daniil Granin absolutely right when he claims that Vilnius 'catches and changes your soul'. This city has soul and a completely unique atmosphere that few other places I've been to in my life can compete with.

Vilnius has been given many nicknames over the centuries, such as ' The world's most Italian town outside Italy' and 'The world's most Baroque city north of the Alps'. When Napoleon Bonaparte in June 1812 came here on route to Moscow, he experienced a vibrant urban environment where he saw something he had never seen in mainstream Europe; a city where Jews and people of other nationalities lived side by side in peaceful coexistence. He soon also became aware that this city was in many respects the world centre of Jewish intellectualism, and it was him who from then of began to refer to Vilnius as 'Jerusalem of the North'.

File:French Army in the Town Hall Square of Vilnius.Lithuania.1812.jpg 
Napoleon's Army at the Vilnius Town Hall, November 1812. 
Thousands of his soldiers died here in Vilnius during their retreat from Moscow.
The mass graves were uncovered in 2002. 

Capitals around our world have their special characteristics that are often the main symbols of the countries they represent. Paris has its Eiffel Tower. London has its bridges. Rome has the Colosseum. Washington has the White House, and Berlin its Brandenburg Gate. Vilnius has its wonderful Old Town that once was among the world's greatest symbol of tolerance and peaceful coexistence for and between many different nationalities and cultures. This is the identity our dear Lithuania again should develp. Vilnius Old Town is ready and renovated to show the path. 

Aage Myhre


When Napoleon Bonaparte in June 1812 came to Vilnius on his way to Moscow, he experienced a vibrant urban environment where he saw something he had never seen in mainstream Europe; a city where Jews and people of other nationalities lived side by side in peaceful coexistence. 



Izabele Bindler
(1932 – 2003)


Rafael Chvoles
(1913 - )


Category : Real estate, building, design, architecture

  • […] ABOVE: My first project in Vilnius Old Town, Dominikonų g. 5 , 1993-1995. See also […]

    February 26 2012

    • […] My first project in Vilnius Old Town, Dominikonų g. 5, 1993-1995. See also I had seen a lot of great architecture around the world before I came to Lithuania more than 20 […]

      February 26 2012

      • The genius store called, they’re rnunnig out of you.

        August 28 2011
        • Jurate Burns

          Vilnius captured my soul on my first visit in 1998. In an ideal world, I would own an apartment in old town and fly back and forth several times a year.

          The emotion I felt when I first saw the Lithuanian flag flying over Gedimino Pylis was overwhelming. Lithuania is free and can grow and develop like never before. Thank you vilNews for keeping us informed and in touch!

          March 16 2011


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