Lithuania



Lithuania is the most southern Baltic country. Lithuania is famous with Curonian Spit - an outstanding example of a landscape of sand dunes, sea resorts: Klaipeda, Palanga and Druskininkai with many SPA hotels, offering high-class facilities and service, a fascinating Hill of Crosses – a religious place of piligrimage, medieval castle Trakai, etc. Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is a very green city, which lies in a valley surrounded by hills at the confluence of the rivers Vilnius and Neris. With a labyrinth of narrow, cobbled streets that holds many surprises, the Old Town of Vilnius is one of the largest in Central and Eastern Europe.Virtually every architectural style, from Gothic to Post-Modern, is visible in Vilnius. But it is Baroque that dominates. Pagan cult sites, Catholic Baroque churches, Orthodox churches, and traces of the Jewish way of life are all witnesses of the historical multicultural life of the city.

Geographic Location: the Republic of Lithuania lies on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. In the north, the country borders on Latvia (588 km), in the east – on Belarus (660 km), in the south – on Poland (103 km) and Kaliningrad Region of the Russian Federation
Total area: 65,300 km2

Population: 3.43 million 
 
Capital: Vilnius
The city was officially established in 1323. But a fortified castle at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers was set up earlier. The Old Town of Vilnius is one of the largest (360 ha) and prettiest in the Eastern and Central Europe included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city boasts excellent public transport with trolleybus, bus and minibus routes; plenty of taxis available.
 
Climate: oceanic/continental
Average temperature in July is +17°C, in January -4.9oC. However, temperatures can soar up to +30oC in summer, and drop down to -32?C in winter. Summers here are pleasantly mild, whereas not every winter offers abundance of snow.
 
Religion: Predominantly, Roman Catholic (approximately 80% of the total population). Other confessions include Orthodox, Old Believers, Lutheran, Reformat, Judaist, Sunni, Karaite and other communities.

Language: Lithuanian

National holidays:
January 1 - New Year’s Day
February 16 - Day of Re-establishment of the State of Lithuania (Independence Day)
March 11 - Day of Restitution of Independence of Lithuania
Sunday-Monday (March-April) - Easter (in the Western Christian tradition)
May 1 - International Labour Day
First Sunday of May - Mother's Day
June 24 - St. John’s Day, Midsummer Day (Joninės, Rasos)
July 6 - Day of the Statehood (the Crowning Day of the Lithuanian King Mindaugas)
August 15 - Assumption Day (Žolinės)
November 1-  All Saints’ Day (Vėlinės)
December 25-26 - Christmas
 
National currency: Lithuanian Litas (LTL)
1 EUR  = LTL 3.4528
 
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania. In 1323 the Grand Duke Gediminas invited artisans from different European countries to Vilnius to develop local building and handicrafts. This year is considered to be the year of Vilnius fundation. Vilnius' Old Town is among the most extensive in the Eastern Europe, occupying total 359 hectares. It contains about 1500 buildings. UNESCO included Vilnius Old Town on the World Culture Heritage List because of its unique mixture of the different architecture styles represented. Such churches as St. Anne's, St. Peter's-and-Paul's, the Cathedral are real masterpieces of architecture. Be sure to visit the courtyards of the oldest University in Eastern Europe, founded in 1579, Gediminas Castle which offers a spectacular view of the entire city, the Gates of Dawn, the Amber Gallery etc.
 
Trakai Castle 
The former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, 27 km to the west of Vilnius, is a favourite place for an outing. The Trakai Castle situated on an island in the midst of Lake Galve is the most famous and most photographed castle in Lithuania. The five-storey, redbrick fortifications were constructed by the Grand Duke Vytautas in the second half of 14th century. In the 14th century Vytautas invited his bodyguard of Tatars from Crimea to Trakai where they settled around the castle. Their descendants, the Karaites - a Turkish ethnic group - still give the royal town its distinctive touch.
Park Of Europe 
Open-Air Sculpture Exposition devoted to the centre of Europe is located 19 km north of the centre of Vilnius. The collection of 30 sculptures of various shapes, sizes and origins displayed over an area of five hectares of wooden parkland. Exhibits sculptures are created by artist from Japan, USA, Mexico, Ireland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Peru, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Cyprus, Finland, Armenia and Lithuania.
Kaunas 
Lying on the confluence of the rivers Nemunas and Neris, Kaunas with its population of 430 000 inhabitants is the second largest city in Lithuania. The Old Town of Kaunas is a concentration of the most important, ancient city architectural monuments: the 13th century Castle, the Old Town Hall, nicknamed the "White Swan", the Archicathedral Basilica, the Church of St. Francis Xavier and the Jesuit monastery, Perkunas House and Vytautas Church. The most outstanding monument of the Baroque epoch is the architectural complex of Pazaislis Monastery. The green and flowering pedestrian street Laisves Aleja is the main business and leisure area of Kaunas. One of the strangest museums in the world must be the Devil's Museum with its bizarre collection of Devil's figures. The Art Gallery of M. K. Ciurlionis keeps the heritage of this great painter and composer.
Rumsiskes Open Air Museum 
Situated 80 km to the northwest of Vilnius and 20 km from Kaunas Rumsiskes Open-Air Ethnic Museum is a mosaic of ancient Lithuanian villages. Old farmstead buildings have been moved from all the ethnographic regions to the shore to the Kaunas Sea - dwelling houses, granaries, threshing bars, cattle-sheds etc. - all in harmony with the breathtaking natural scenery. Folk ensemble concerts and holiday festivals are held in the grounds of the Museum.
Klaipeda 
The port city of Klaipeda on the Baltic Sea founded in 1252 by the vice-master of Livonian Order Eberhardt von Sein has many Germanic influences. He built a wooden castle at the mouth of the Dane River. These fortifications became known as "Memelburg", since the Order mistook the Curonian lagoon for the mouth of the Memel River. The centre of the Old Town of Klaipeda is the Theatre Square with the statue of Ännchen von Tharau dedicated to the poet Simon Dach, the neogothic Post office, the former Louise Gymnasium. the Museum of old clocks and watches. In Kopgalis a restored fortress houses the Marine Museum and Aquarium, with the dolphinarium.
Siauliai 
The fourth largest city of Lithuania, Siauliai, was founded in 1236 after famous victory over the Theutonic knights at Saule. Its history remained violent. And much of the town was destroyed by wars and fire over the centuries. Though much of the Old Town has vanished, the bustling and fascinating pedestrianised Vilnius Street can still be seen, as well the St. Peter's and Paul's Church. The 750th anniversary of the battle of Saule was commemorated by the erection of a 21 metre high sundial, capped by an archer in gilded bronze. 7 km to the north is the Jurgaiciai mound and the unforgettable Hill of Crosses. The first of the hundreds of crosses which honour the dead were planted after the tragic peasant rebellion of 1863.
 
Palanga 
Palanga is 25 km north from Klaipeda. It is a modern summer resort with a number of holiday hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. Palanga is famous for the Amber Museum and the Botanical Garden.



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