Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania. With 574,221 registered inhabitants (2017), Vilnius is not only the country’s most populous city but also the largest metropolis in the Baltic region, covering an area of 401 square kilometres.
The story of Vilnius’s historic centre began on glacial hills that were intermittently occupied during the Neolithic period. A wooden castle was built in around 1000 AD to fortify Gedimino Hill, situated at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers. This settlement only grew to become a city in the 13th century while the Baltic people were fighting against their German invaders. By the time the first written record of Vilnia was created in 1323, it was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
By the 15th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with its capital Vilnius had become the largest country in Europe, stretching from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south.
The city’s historic buildings are in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical styles and have a distinctive appearance. Vilnius’s old town is among the largest in Eastern Europe and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. With more than 50 churches, the city is also dubbed the 'Rome of the East'.
Successive reconstructions in the wake of various disasters have given Vilnius a whole host of characterful buildings, including the cathedral, the town hall, the arsenal and the palaces of Tyzenhauzai, Rensai, Pacai and Masalskiai. Many of the surviving earlier buildings were rebuilt or restored in the School of Vilnius Baroque style, which ultimately left its mark across large swathes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Vilnius’s identity has always been open to influences fostered by the social, economic and cultural activities of its thriving communities.
Facts and figures:
Area: approx. 401 km²
Local time: GMT + 2 hours (EET), GMT + 3 hours (summer time)
Stadiums in Vilnius