We start our Vilnius tour from its cradle – Gediminas Castle Hill and the remnants of the upper castle. Continue to the Cathedral square where one can observe the beautiful Neo-Classical Cathedral of Saints Stanislaus and Ladislaus. Then we whisk out through the narrow streets to observe the Presidential Palace and the Old Vilnius University, founded in 1579.
Walk along the medieval Castle street in the heart of the Vilnius Old City. One of the most breathtaking sights is the “gothic triangle” that includes the fascinating St. Anne’s church. Just next to it Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Teotokos and the former Russian town, where today settles so called “Republic of Uzupis,” Bohemian and artistic quarter of Vilnius.
We continue Vilnius sightseeing outside the old historical part by driving to the pearl of Baroque architecture – St. Peter and Paul’s Church. This unique church contains more than 2000 impressive statues and bas-reliefs. Not all of the churches were open during the Soviet period, but this one remained untouched and served as a Catholic prayer house.
Drive to Gediminas boulevard to see the Parliament and the impressive monument in memory of revolutionary events of 1991. Next, stop at a spacious square, once a Tatar suburb of the city – many fairs and markets took place on this spot. From here, we often refer to the former KGB building and the sad story of Stalin’s repressions.
We return back to the Old City to see the City hall square, numerous art and amber galleries, linen and souvenir shops. We will reach the southern border of our once-walled city, and admire the Russian monastery of Holy Spirit, the Greek Catholic church of Holy Trinity and the Zenith of Christian Vilnius – the “Gate of Dawn”. The Chapel over the gate guards a famous icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, believed to have miraculous powers.
Our Vilnius Tour continues with a visit to Vilnius Synagogue, built in 1903 in the Moorish Romanesque style. Visit the Jewish State museum, a.k.a. the Tolerance Centre, to learn the history of Lithuanian Jewry. We will also visit an art gallery of the Jewish American artist Samuel Bak. We’ll stroll along the streets of the medieval Jewish Quarter of Vilnius, called by many Lithuanian Jerusalem. We’ll drop by the music school where Jasha Heifetz took his first steps in his music career – the famous ORT school, house of Tarbut Gimnazia, nowadays JCC. We’ll also see a former Yiddish theatre, rabbinical council and the place where Theodor Herzl stayed during his visit to Vilnius.
We’ll learn of the Benedictine convent and the story of saving 12 Jewish souls by Lithuanian Righteous Among the Nations. In Vilnius Ghetto streets, we’ll see Vilna Gaon‘s house, and the spot where the Great Synagogue once stood. The Big Ghetto and the sad story of suffering, resistance, and struggle. The Judenrat office and the drama of “choiceless choices”. Former Ghetto theatre – center of the Spiritual resistance. Drive to Ponar forest and Holocaust memorial – the site of extermination of 100 thousand people, among them 70 thousand Jews.
Trakai – the land of lakes and forests. We visit the ancient capital and the seat of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, with its 14th-century picturesque castle. Today, it houses an immersive museum of Lithuanian history, and tells the story of the Karaite ethnic minority in the region. We’ll also visit a unique Karaite cemetery. In the afternoon, we’ll drive to Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania. Visit Slobodka, the Jewish neighborhood since 1500, and site the famous Slobodka Yeshiva. Finally, we’ll pay our respects at the History Museum and the Memorial in the Ninth Fort – the site where Nazis and their collaborators killed over 50 thousand people, most of them Jewish.
We’ll have some time to explore the Old Town of Kaunas, with its Catholic churches, narrow streets and cobbled squares, cozy cafes and art galleries. Continue walking along the main pedestrian street, Laisves aleja, with its 2-3-story buildings looking just as they did before the war. We’ll check out the Art Gallery of M. K. Ciurlionis, the outstanding Lithuanian artist and composer.
Conclusion of our Vilnius Tour with a drop off at your hotel in Vilnius.
Destination Management Company JeruLita operates individual private tours as well as small and medium size groups in cooperation with our partners. We will be glad to accommodate you in a private tour or will direct you to travel expert in your country who will register you to the groups we operate.