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Excursions in Lithuania

Vilnius old town tour (2-3 hours walking tour)

Vilnius old townVilnius - the capital of Lithuania, situated on the bank of the Neris River, was founded in 1323 when Grand Duke Gediminas built a castle there. The splendid architectural blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles makes this wonderful city to explore.

The historical heart of Vilnius is located in the surroundings of the Cathedral Square: the Upper Castle on the hill, the Lower Castle and the reconstructed Royal Palace at its foot, the Old and New Arsenals, the Cathedral, monuments and Šventaragio Park around the Cathedral Square.

Between the Cathedral and the Bell Tower there is a "magic" quarry tile. In 1989, the so-called Baltic Road - a live chain of people - stretched from this point in Vilnius to Riga and Tallinn (595 km long) in an attempt to initiate the battle for independence. Your secret dreams will come true if you stand on the tile, make a wish, and turn around.

A symbol of Vilnius - rising high above the Old Town - is the tower of the Castle of Grand Duke Gediminas, the founder of Vilnius (also known as Gediminas Hill or Gediminas Castle, which dates back to the 14th century). A picturesque panorama of Vilnius opens up from the top of the Gediminas Tower.

Vilnius City Tour (3 hours, bus+walking tour)

St. Ana's churchVilnius - the capital of Lithuania, situated on the bank of the Neris River, was founded in 1323 when Grand Duke Gediminas built a castle there. The splendid architectural blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles makes this wonderful city to explore.

The historical heart of Vilnius is located in the surroundings of the Cathedral Square: the Upper Castle on the hill, the Lower Castle and the reconstructed Royal Palace at its foot, the Old and New Arsenals, the Cathedral, monuments and Šventaragio Park around the Cathedral Square.

Between the Cathedral and the Bell Tower there is a "magic" quarry tile. In 1989, the so-called Baltic Road - a live chain of people - stretched from this point in Vilnius to Riga and Tallinn (595 km long) in an attempt to initiate the battle for independence. Your secret dreams will come true if you stand on the tile, make a wish, and turn around.

A symbol of Vilnius - rising high above the Old Town - is the tower of the Castle of Grand Duke Gediminas, the founder of Vilnius (also known as Gediminas Hill or Gediminas Castle, which dates back to the 14th century). A picturesque panorama of Vilnius opens up from the top of the Gediminas Tower.

On the other bank of the Vilnelė River is the Hill of Three Crosses. There are several stories told about the appearance of crosses on the hill. However, the panorama of the Old Town opening from this hill is simply fantastic. A wonderful panorama of Vilnius and Užupis can be seen from a special viewing platform in Subačiaus Street.

Trakai Castle sightseeing tour (4 hours, bus+walking tour)

Trakai castleThe old town of Trakai - which is extremely popular among the residents of Lithuania and foreign guests - is situated west of Vilnius between hills, forests and lakes. The shores of the peninsula on which it is located are washed by the waters of the Galvės, Totoriškių and Bernardinų (Lukos) lakes. The Trakai historical national park, which covers over 8,000 ha, preserves the regions uniqueness and its nature. It is the only one of this type in Europe.

The pride of Trakai is the Island Castle, the only castle in Eastern Europe built on an island, museum on the Galvė Lake. The peninsular castle, barrows and cemeteries are unique sites and the church exhibiting the picture of the Holy Mother of God built in the 15th century in the Baroque and Gothic style is considered by historians to be one of the most valuable Lithuanian heritage objects.

Today, Trakai attracts visitors to a wonderful place offering refuge from the intensive city life, with walks around the beautiful area or yacht trips on one of the numerous lakes. Trakai is also known for the Karaimes (a people speaking the Turkic language), who have lived here since the 14th century and have preserved their traditions. A kenesa - a Karaime temple - and houses of Karaimes have survived in Trakai, and the national dishes (the most popular is kybyn - a small pasty stuffed with minced meat) of this ethnic group can be tasted in Trakai.

Kernave sightseeing tour (4 hours, bus+walking tour)

KernaveKernavė, a small settlement 50 km west of Vilnius located in a picturesque Pajauta valley. The place is known among the locals as a Lithuanian Troy testifying to the country's 13th-14th century history. The site is a complex ensemble of archaeological properties, encompassing the town of Kernavė, forts, some unfortified settlements, burial sites and other archaeological, historical and cultural monuments. Impressive landscape, rich history, valuable archaeological finds have put Kernave Archaeological Site on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List.

The honor of being the oldest capital of Lithuania is ascribed to it. For the first time it was mentioned in 1279 in the rhymed chronicles of Livonia as the domain of the grand duke Traidenis.

Tour to open-air museum of the Center of Europe (3-4 hours, bus+walking tour)

Europe parkThe park is located 20 km from Vilnius in picturesque surroundings of Vilnius outskirts. Every year since 1993 artists from Lithuania all over the world (Japan, USA, Ireland, Greece, UK, Hungary, etc) have come here to create this park. The result is a collection of over 50 sculptures including the ones created by M.Abakonowitz, D.Oppenheim, and Sol de Witt. The sculptures are permanently exhibited amidst rolling hills and woodlands dotted with natural springs.

Tour to geographical center of Europe (3 hours, bus+ walking tour)

geographical center of EuropeThe Geographical Centre of Europe is in Vilnius district, 26 km from Vilnius. In 1989, a group of French scientists from the institute announced that the geographical centre of Europe was just to the north of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius - 26 kilometres to be exact - near the village of Purnuskes. Every year the number of tourists visiting Lithuania is constantly growing. With this in mind, the State Tourism Department at the Ministry of Economy and the Vilnius District Administration started giving  the geographical centre of Europe greater visibility. On 1 May 2004, the date Lithuania entered the European Union, the sculptor Gediminas Jokubonis at the site unveiled his composition of column of white granite, the top of which is rimmed by a crown of stars.

Full day Kaunas City tour + museums (8 hours)

KaunasKaunas is the second largest city in Lithuania, first mentioned in an old manuscript of 1361. It is situated in the valley of two longest rivers of Lithuania, the Nemunas and the Neris. The town itself became an example of a confluence of people and cultures, an attractive blend of architecture and nature. The town has seen many ups and downs, but has stayed a source of forces for resistance, a guard of national identity, and has once actually been the temporal capital of Lithuania.

The tour includes: the Old Town of Kaunas with its St George's Church, Kaunas Castle built at the confluence of the Nemunas and the Neris rivers, the courtyard of the Theological seminary, the Town Hall Square surrounded by former 16th - 18th century merchants' dwelling houses and baroque churches - the Jesuit Church and the Cathedral, the Church of Vytautas dating back to the 14th century and the Perkunas (Thunder) House (no visits inside); a walk on the central street- Freedom avenue - bustling with street vendors, musicians, full of cafes and souvenir shops; afternoon visits include Ciurlionis Picture Gallery and Devils' Museum.

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Pazasilis monasteryPazaislis Monastery and Church - located in splendid isolation among the fields and woodlands of the right bank of the Nemunas River is a striking Baroque ensemble in Northern Europe. Founded in 16662 by the Great Chancellor Krzysztof Zygmunt Pac for order of the Camaldolese Hermits. The main construction has been built until 1674 and further finished until 1712. The building and the dome was founded after 1755 by king's chamberlain Michal Jan Pac.

The IX Fort Museum. A fortress dating from 1882, and a death camp during the Nazi occupation, this structure currently houses a museum focusing both on extermination of Jews by Nazi as well as deportations of Lithuanians by the Soviets.

Tour to Lithuanian open-air folk life museum of Rumšiškės (5-6 hours)

RumsiskesLocated 80 km from Vilnius and covering a total of 176 hectares the Museum offers acquaintance with the 18th - 19th century architecture, traditions, crafts and the way of life of farmers at the end of the 18th - 19th centuries. The museum boasts a collection of old houses, farms, schools, pubs and mills representing the major regions of the country, complete with the flora specific to these regions. This is the adventure of a lifetime indeed. As well as the architectural splendour, this is also a living museum, featuring men and women in traditional costume, baking bread and making pots the old way.

Klaipeda and Palanga sightseeing tour (15 hours, bus+walking tour)

PalangaPalanga, the most popular sea resort in Lituanina. Here you will see beautiful white sandy beaches, backed by dunes and pine forests. You will have the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful parks in Lithuania, the Palanga Botanical Gardens. The gardens were designed by the French architect Andre and feature more than 150 trees and shrub species. After walking through the park, you will reach the 19th century neo-classical palace built by the Tiszkewicz family. The palace now houses the Amber Museum, a branch of the Lithuanian Museum of Art. The exhibit displays thousands of pieces of amber many containing fossilized insects. After you visit this incredible collection of amber, you will return to Klaipeda for a visit to Old Town, where you will see the fascinating merchants' warehouses constructed in the typical German style with "fachwerk" (half timbered) decorations. You will also see the Old Castle Territory settled by German Crusaders in the 13th century. Your final stop will be the Theater Square, where you will see the Simon Dach fountain, which is named after the 17th century German poet, born in Klaipeda.

Curonian Spit sightseeing tour (15 hours, bus+walking tour)

Curonian SpitThe Curonian Spit, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 for its beautiful and unique landscape complete with fisherman's settlements, mesmerizing golden dunes and the summerhouse of Thomas Mann. You will begin by crossing the Curonian Lagoon via ferry. You will disembark at the Curonian Spit, a sandy stretch of land, 98km (60.8mi) long, and stretching between the waters of the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea. The Curonian Spit formed about 6000 years ago as sand accumulated in shallow waters near the coast. Today it is a favorite romantic get away and many former fishing villages have been developed into resorts and guest quarters. You will visit Juodkrante, famous for the Hill of Witches where nearly 80 carved sculptures depicting characters from Lithuanian folklore and pagan tradition line the trails of the pinewood forest. You will also visit Nida, the resort of serene beauty. It is noted for the magnificent dunes, which have attracted visitors since the mid 19th century. The German writer Thomas Mann had a summerhouse built here, which now houses a museum and has remained a meeting place for writers and intellectuals who visit this part of Lithuania.

Tour to the Park of Soviet Sculptures - Grutas Park and Druskininkai town (8 hours)

DruskininkaiDruskininkai, Lithuania's premier spa and southernmost town lies some 140 km from Vilnius. Picturesquely set on the Nemunas River and surrounded by pine forests with wonderfully fresh, scented air is a delightful place to spend a restful few days. A one day trip to the town features its main attractions: neo-gothic Church of the Virgin Mary of the Scapular, Ciurlionis Memorial Museum, Jacques Lipchitz Memorial Gallery and Grutas Park, a unique park in which pompous statues of soviet revolutionaries and political leaders, once dominating squares of Lithuanian towns and villages, have found their shelter after being removed more than 10 years ago.

 

Tour to the Hill of Crosses near Šiauliai

Hill of crossesŠiauliai is the fourth largest city of Lithuania. By the 15th century Siauliai was a relatively large town. Today there are 150.000 inhabitants. We will visit the Hill of Crosses near Siauliai, where the Pope John Paul II held the most highly attended mass in our country - during his visit to Lithuania in 1993, an old mound from the days of the crusaders that has sprouted thousands of crosses in every imaginable size and form. This has always been as is now a place of pilgrimage. Today a veritable sea of crosses - hundreds of thousands of them - serves as a monument to Lithuanians' attachment to their religion.

Tour to Aukštaitija National Park (6-8 hours)

Aukstaitija national parkThe first stop on this tour will be in the Geographical Center of Europe, not far from Vilnius. In 1989, a group of French scientists from the institute announced that the geographical centre of Europe was just to the north of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius - 26 kilometres to be exact - near the village of Purnuskes. Then we'll go to the Moletai Observatory and have a posibility to enjoy beautifull panoramic view from telescope tower. Our way to Aukstaitija National Park will go though very old Labanoras Wood. There we will stop to visit Fishing Museum. At over 400 km2, Lithuania's first national park (1974) offers a breathtaking break away from it all. Thirty rivers, over one hundred lakes, large wooded areas featuring 200-year-old-plus oaks, marshes, and villages entirely overlooked by the creeping claws of progress all make for the ideal antidote to life in the fast lane. Although by no means complete, the following information represents the high points of the region. What interesting places are there to see? Ginuciai Water Mill - supposedly hounted by the devil, and nearly 200 years old, the water mill is the only one in the region that has preserved all of its original working apparatus and visitors are free to snoop around its guts. Ladakalnis - with a peak that measures an impressive (for Lithuania) 175 m, Ladakalnis offers sensational panoramic views of the dense forestland and lakes below. Ancient Beekeeping Museum - founded in 1974 by Bronius Kazlas, is one of the oddest things you'll ever come across. Attracting around 10,000 visitors annually the museum, situated in a rustic cottage, depicts the art of bee-keeping throughout the ages, as well as exploring its spiritual links. Guests are welcome to sample their honey at the end of their visit.

Lithuanian amber
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