Vilnius

Lithuania’s lively capital wears its heart on its sleeve.

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Vilnius takes great pride its cultural and architectural heritage, interspersing its majestic towers, spires and domes with attractive green spaces and grand public squares. Yet its battle scars aren't hidden –prominent museums, memorials and Soviet-era concrete relics serve as thought-provoking reminders of past struggles.

Essential sights

Gediminas Tower

The imposing Gediminas Tower, the remaining part of Vilnius's Upper Castle, gazes down on the Old Town from its elevated defensive mound. Inside the fortification there's a multi-level museum featuring exhibits on the city's medieval history, oppression in the Eastern Bloc and the Singing Revolution of 1987–91. Climb the steps to the rooftop observation deck for a fabulous city panorama.

Vilnius Old Town

With its elegant palaces, churches and squares, Vilnius's maze-like Old Town is the archetypal UNESCO World Heritage Site. Large sections of the medieval city have survived the invasions, conflicts and disasters of years gone by, and today the winding cobbles streets serve up a delicious blend of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical architecture. Don't miss the Gate of Dawn, Presidential Palace or elaborate university complex.

Cathedral Basilica of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus

Vilnius's main cathedral and its adjoining bell tower are two of the city's key landmarks. Just off Cathedral Square in the shadow of Gediminas Tower, the dramatic 18th-century basilica is grand inside and out, and its interior artwork and sculptures were impressively restored following the declaration of independence in 1990.