Lithuania Travel Guide

The Cathedral of Vilnius, Lithuania
The Cathedral of Vilnius, Lithuania

Lithuania is a realm of castles, lakes and forests. The landscape consists of vast plains, separated by hills and sand dunes, along the Baltic shore. This strip of dunes is called the Curonian Neck, and the stretch of water behind the neck is called the Curonian Lagoon. Klaipeda, the only commercial port in Lithuania, is located in the place where the lagoon opens to the sea. The capital city, Vilnius, is one of the most lovely European cities, especially because for its Baroque historical center. You should also visit other important cities, like Kaunas, listen to the old Lithuanian Baltic language, that resembles Sanskrit and buy some souvenirs – canvas or ceramic objects.

A little more than a quarter of Lithuania’s territory is covered by forests, especially in the south-west area. These forests are inhabited by moose, deer, boars, wolves and lynx, even if it’s less likely to meet these animals if you are not guided by a specialist. In Lithuania there are over 2000 otters, the LakeZuvintas being an important habitat for these animals and a place to stop for the migratory birds. There are five national parks in Lithuania and several natural reserves, and the most important one is KursiuNerijaNational Park, with tall sand dunes, pine forests, beaches and a lagoon.

Lithuania's Tourist Attractions

  • Visit the interesting churches in Vilnius, including the St Anna and St Peter and Paul churches, the latter housing St Casimieras’ body, one of the most worshiped dukes of Lithuania. The city’s historical center is the biggest one in Europe and it’s enlisted in UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

  • Climb the GediminasTower on the hill in the Vilnius city center, to have a full view of the capital city.
  • Visit Kaunas, the city of museums, which boasts with the Devil’s Museum, a memorial for all those who had lost their lives during the Nazi occupation and a museum dedicated to the painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. You can also see three theaters, the ruins of a castle from the 11th century and the old city hall.
  • Admire the five quaint hammocks covered with grass, that mark the ancient capital of Lithuania, Kernave, a place enlisted in UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Visit the yellow amber gallery in the museum in Palanga and the botanical park. To the south you can find the city Klaipeda, an important port and a main center for connections for ferries.
  • The forests cover a quarter of Lithuania’s territory; there are five national parks and countless national reserves.
  • Visit the lakes in the national parks in Trakai, Aukstaitija and Zemaitija.
  • Admire the lighthouse in Nida, which was constructed in 1874. In the neighbourhood you’ll find the ThomasMannCulturalCenter, the house where the German writer had spent his holidays between 1930 and 1932. In the GrutoPark you’ll find a park of Soviet sculptures, reminding of the bleak past.
  • Enjoy the Mardi Gras Festival that takes place in different cities and villages. The most renowned are the processions in February, in the historical center of the city Vilnius.
  • Visit the ancient capital of Lithuania, Trakai, located on GalveLake’s banks. The city has a castle that dates from the 14th century.
  • Relax in the seaside resorts. Palanga and Kursiu Nerija are famous for their clean waters, sand dunes and pine forests.
  • Go hiking in the CuronianSpitNational Park, in the peninsula that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. Here you will find big sand dunes, pine forests and a rare fauna and flora.
  • Try extreme sports like riding the hot air balloon or the glider. You have the opportunity to go bungee jumping from the television’s tower in Vilnius, the highest bungee jumping point in Europe.
  • Visit capital city during the city’s festival in September and take part in carnivals, fairs, concerts and fireworks on the city streets.

Zeppelini - Traditional Lithuanian Food
Zeppelini - Traditional Lithuanian Food

Lithuanian Cuisine

National specialties include skilandis (smoked meat), salti barsciai (cold soup), cepelianai (potatoes stuffed with meat), vadarai (potato sausages) and bulviniai blynai (potato pancakes). The smoked eel is a Baltic delicacy. A famous Lithuanian spirit is midus, made out of honey.

Lithuania's History

The Lithuanians united in the 12th century under Mindaugas’ rule, who became the king in 1251. By marriage, one of the Lithuanian leaders became king of Poland (Ladislaus the Second) in 1386 and united the two countries. In 1410 the Polish and Lithuanians defeated the powerful Teutonic Knights at Tannenberg. From the 14th century to the 16th century Poland and Lithuania represented one the greatest empires in the medieval Europe, stretching from the Black Sea and close to Moscow.

Russia, Prussia and Austria divided Poland in 1772, 1792 and 1795. As a result, the last time Lithuania got into Russia’s hands, who tried unsuccessfully to incorporate the Lithuanian culture in the Russian one. After the First World War and the fall of Russia, Lithuania declared its independence, under German protection.

In 1940 the republic was annexed to the Soviet Union, and from 1941 to 1944 the country was occupied by German troops. During this time 240.000 Jews were massacred. In 1944 the country was again annexed to the USSR. The Lithuanian independence movement occurred in 1988, and in 1990, the communist leader of the popular movement Sajudis was elected president. In the same day, the Supreme Council declared the restoration of the Lithuanian independence. In 2004 the country joined the European Union and NATO.

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