|The skyline of Vilnius|
Vilnius is the capital of the Republic of Lithuania and the largest administrative heart with all major political, economic, social and cultural centres. History reveals that Vilnius was first mentioned in 1323 by the Grand Duke Gediminas, who sent numerous letters to Western Europe inviting traders and craftsmen of all nationalities and religious confessions to settle in the city. Now Vilnius is the largest city in the country. The current area of Vilnius is about 400 square km. Buildings cover 29.1% of the city and the remaining area is prevailed with the greenery (68.8%) and waters (2.1%).
Before starting meanderings around the streets of the Old Town, and its churches, museums, craft workshops and galleries, it is worth getting a bird's eye view of Vilnius and taking in a panoramic view of the city. There are some hills and high buildings suitable for this purpose.
The highest building in Vilnius is the television tower. It has a total height of 326.5 metres, and at 165 metres the tower's restaurant is the highest observation point in the city. The circular floor of the restaurant does a complete revolution once per hour, giving people sitting at the tables by the windows an excellent bird's eye view of the whole city. A great vantage point to view the city centre is the bar on the 22nd floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel Lietuva, which stands near the northern bank of the Neris River, on the edge of the Old Town. An open air view of the Old Town can be had from several hilltops in the city. At the top of the castle tower on Gediminas' Hill there is an observation area. You can get to the castle by the cobbled path that winds up the hill or you can take a ride to the top in the funicular. Across the Vilnelė River in the adjacent Sereikiškių Park you can go to the top of several hills along the escarpment: Trijų kryžių (Three Crosses), Bekešo, Altanos, Stalo and Gedimino kapo (Gediminas' Grave).
A narrow path leads from Gedimino kapo (Gediminas' Grave) Hill to Užupis, the artists' district of
|A view on the old town of Vilnius through the Aurora gate.|
Vilnius. This is the home of the self-declared ‘independent' Republic of Užupis. It has its own insignia (you will see it as you drive into Užupis from the Old Town over the bridge on the Vilnelė River), its official seal and a guardian angel in the form of a sculpture. It also has a Constitution, a copy of which is displayed at the beginning of Paupio (Riverside) Street. Along the bank of the Vilnelė there are several nice cafés and open artists' courtyards.
A tidy view of the Old Town is to be had from Bastėjos kalnas (Bastille Hill). At the bottom to the right of the hill is the Tymai quarter, unfortunately a bit rundown since World War II, but still the venue of Vilnius' annual craftsmen's fair. The churchyards of Šv. Trejybės (Holy Trinity) church and other nearby sacred buildings radiate peace and serenity.
Museum lovers will not be disappointed by the Lithuanian National Museum, the Museum of Applied Art and the Vilnius Picture Gallery. Admirers of contemporary art will find it worth visiting the Contemporary Art Centre, while those who wish to feel the chill of the dreadful totalitarian era inflicted on Lithuania (1940-1990) can visit the Genocide Victims' Museum, which has been established in former KGB premises.
For more detailed list of museums, parks, art centres, galleries and other places to visit you may use www.vilnius-tourism.lt
|Artūras Jomantas and Lietuvos Rytas are regular contenders in the Euroleague|
Lietuvos Rytas is a professional basketball club based in Vilnius playing in the Lithuanian Basketball League, the Baltic Basketball League, and the Euroleague.
The team now known as Lietuvos Rytas began play as Statyba in 1964. Jonas Kazlauskas, Rimas Girskis, and then head coach Rimantas Endrijaitis led Statyba to win third place in the 1979 Soviet Union Championship. Three years later, Šarūnas Marčiulionis joined the team and became the leader. In 1987, Artūras Karnišovas joined the team at the age of 16. In 1997, the team was renamed to Lietuvos Rytas Statyba, then just Lietuvos Rytas as the club was bought by the Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos Rytas. The newspaper's investment helped establish the club as one of the two best in Lithuania.
BC Lietuvos rytas are counting their thirteenth season. The yearbook of the club, founded in 1997, has since been filled with pages of triumph.
Lietuvos rytas has achieved its brightest victory in the international arena in 2005, when it won the second most prestigious European basketball trophy - ULEB Cup, which is now called the Eurocup. In 2007 the men from Vilnius reached the final of this tournament once again, where they were submitted to Madrid Real, but gained a pass to Euroleague.
The Vilnius team showed impressive results in elite competitions of the continent last season: they reached the Top 16 and were only a step short of the quarterfinal. That was the second most successful season of Lietuvos rytas in Euroleague: in 2005-2006 the Vilnius club had already reached the Top 16 of this tournament.
By the way, the young club Lietuvos rytas made its debut in the company of the strongest European teams - the Superleague - as far back as 2000. That year the basketball players from Vilnius had a hard time gathering momentum, but managed to beat through into the eight-finals.
This season of 2005-2006 is also exceptional in the yearbook of the team. Not only did Lietuvos rytas shine on all fronts - won the LKL champion title over from Žalgiris - but it also triumphed in the Baltic league tournament.
Throughout its history Lietuvos rytas has become the national champion three times. The Vilnius team gained this honourable title for the first time in the 1999-2000 season, when it overthrew the crowned champions of Lithuania - Žalgiris Kaunas. In the 2001-2002 season the men from Vilnius won the LKL tournament for the second time, and in the final of the open NEBL tournament broke the strongest Russian club Perm Ural Great.
Lietuvos rytas won the second champions' cup of the Baltic States in 2007. The trophy shelf includes the Lithuanian cup won in 1998.
There is no lack for other awards in the club's collection as well: the Vilnius team finished second in the tournaments of 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008, and in 1998 they were third.
Lietuvos rytas is a private club, the cornerstone of its existence is donations of private sponsors. People believed in the idea of a powerful team in Vilnius. This is a merit of both Lietuvos rytas company as well as other supporters. They believed, and the club managers proved, that with smart work it is possible to build a powerful team. It is not done by throwing out large amounts of money at once and buying the best players, but by working gradually, by gold plating young Lithuanian talents with experienced foreign players.
It is difficult to count how many former players from Lietuvos rytas moved to the best teams of the world. Even though was really difficult to say goodbye to such stars as Arvydas Macijauskas, Šarūnas Jasikevičius, Ramūnas Šiškauskas, Robertas Javtokas and other brilliant basketball players, the Vilnius club maintained its high level. Excellent atmosphere formed in the team, which grew in spirit and energy. Good players can play and move to other teams, however all that they have achieved stays in the club as aura of victories and beautiful play.
Name: Vilniaus Arena
Distance to airport: 7 km
Address: 14 Ozo gatvė, Vilnius LT-08200,
Year of construction: 2004
Area: 401 sq km
Official website: www.vilnius.lt
Distances: Alytus 105 km, Kaunas 105 km, Klaipeda 309, Panevezys 140 km, Siauliai 210 km
Distances from Klaipeda to border crossing points:
Poland (Ogrodniki) 164 km, Latvia (Zarasai) 150 km, Kaliningrad Region (Nesterov) 180 km, Belarus (Asmiany) 60 km
Among the many restaurants scattered around Vilnius, there are sure to be some that match all tastes and budgets. Although the concentration of restaurants is highest in the Old Town and around the city centre, fine eating out places can be found in various (sometimes unexpected) parts of the city. In Vilnius' restaurants the cost/quality ratio is quite favourable. It should be borne in mind that a luxurious and dazzling interior are not necessarily a guaranty of tasty, high quality cuisine; whereas a rather plain décor may signify that the restaurant's main focus is on the quality of their dishes.
International European cuisine is predominant in Vilnius restaurants, with a few Lithuanian dishes included in the menu. Pizzerias now outnumber Lithuanian restaurants, so do not be surprised to find a wide range of pizzas available at most restaurants (especially medium price range restaurants). The people of Vilnius are starting to jokingly say that pizza is becoming Lithuania's national dish.
Chinese restaurants are no longer a rarity in Vilnius, and they usually offer quite good food. People who love sushi and seafood can choose one of the Japanese restaurants. Oysters, shellfish and baked frog legs are offered by French and Belgian restaurants. The Vilnius Old Town is home to several good Argentinean restaurants, which cook delicious traditional steaks and lamb cutlets. Represented in smaller numbers in Vilnius are restaurants offering Polish, Mexican, Czech, Indian, Spanish and Greek cuisine. There is also a vegetarian restaurant ("Balti drambliai" - "White Elephants") in the Old Town, but vegetarians should be able to find a suitable dish on the menu of almost any restaurant.
Lithuanian cuisine is represented by several restaurant chains and smaller independent restaurants in various parts of Vilnius. Those who wish to sample the delights of Lithuanian cuisine and to feel the authentic atmosphere of a Lithuanian tavern will be able to easily find one of the Lithuanian restaurants in the Old town.
In terms of numbers of cafés, Vilnius is not far behind the traditional ‘café culture' cities of Europe. As one walks around the Old Town or attends to matters in the city centre, it is customary to call in to a café to relax a while. Cafés (or tea houses) can be found in almost every street of the Old Town. But as one walks around the city it seems to illustrate the adage that the more ‘hidden' the café is, the nicer its atmosphere will be. Hence there is no need to wait for a table in the popular cafés of Trakų, Pilies or Didžioji Streets; one can have a look in Bokšto or Savičiaus Streets.
Many Vilnius bars function as restaurants during the day, and in terms of subtlety of interior décor and quality of cuisine, they compete with the best restaurants. Therefore, quite often the tourist booklets rank these cafés among the restaurants. Some of the bars could also be appropriately included in the list of intimate-sized clubs, because in the evenings they have live music or a DJ. Bar interiors vary greatly: futuristic, decoratively decadent, solidly unassuming or comfortably modernist; so everyone is sure to find a place they like.
For more detailed list of restaurants, cafes and bars you may use www.vilnius-tourism.lt