Vilnius Old town and Trakai castle

  • Vilnius Cathedral - Once the site of a pagan monument, the first Christian church was thought to have been built here in 1251 by Grand Duke Mindaugas. The current construction dates back as far as 1419. Much of what is seen now was created between 1769 and 1820 by the architect Stuoka-Gucevičius in the French-classicist style. The Cathedral was closed by the Soviets in 1950 and used as a picture gallery. It was returned to the Catholic Church in 1990.
  • Gediminas castle - Dating from the 13th century the castle was rebuilt in 1419 by Grand Duke Vytautas following the great fire of Vilnius. In 1610 it was used as a prison for the ruling classes, and during the 1655-1661 Russian occupation the towers and defensive walls were almost completely destroyed, with serious restoration work only beginning in 1930.
  • Statue of The Grand Duke Gediminas - For centuries Vilnius had no monument to honour the city’s founder, but this was set right in September 1996. He stands more or less on the same spot where an iron wolf he saw in a dream induced him to found the city in the early 14th century.
  • Gate of Dawn - The 16th century Gates of Dawn originally formed part of the town fortifications, being built into the original city wall. In 1671 Carmelites from neighbouring St. Theresa’s built a chapel in the gates to house a holy image of the Virgin Mary, reputed for miracle-working powers. The chapel’s interior was refurbished in the neo-classical style in 1829
  • Trakai Castle -One of Lithuania's former capitals, Trakai, located just 28km west of Vilnius, is a charmingly small settlement, strategically placed in the middle of five large lakes. It is a popular destination for locals seeking a little rest and relaxation by the water and tourists hoping to storm the infamous castle. There must be reason all roads seem to lead to Trakai in the summer.
  • The highlight of any trip to Trakai is the castle. Dating from the 14th century, the place was destroyed during the war with the Russians (17th-18th centuries), with restoration work only starting again as recently as 1955. Inside find a museum tracing the history of the castle and its significance as one of the holiest of holy Lithuanian sites.