Vilnius as we know it today started with a compelling message.
Just 700 years ago, in 1322-1323, Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania sent seven diplomatic letters to Europe. In one of them, the ruler mentioned Vilnius, the state’s capital, for the first time. The letters reached their intended recipients and city life soon became part of European history: Vilnius opened up to the world and the world discovered Vilnius.
In 2023, residents of Vilnius will celebrate this exceptional anniversary.
It is difficult to say exactly when the first inhabitants came to the territory of present-day Vilnius, when they lit the first bonfire and when the names Vilnelė and Vilnius were first pronounced in this settlement. It happened long before the time of Grand Duke Gediminas. However, the ruler sent an important message from the then fringe of European civilization – the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Vilnius were noted as worthy of Europe and able to help expand the continent’s borders. Vilnius needed Europe, but Europe also needed Vilnius. The last 700 years reflect the peculiar fate of Vilnius and perhaps its mission – to accept, understand, initiate and protect the geographical and ideological landmarks of the Old Continent. Today, Vilnius seems to have succeeded: Christianity, the most eastern European university, the coexistence of nations and faiths, a unique centre of the Baroque era, the poets of Romanticism, the idea of freedom and the two-hundred-year struggle for freedom, confrontation with and constant opposition to despotism and totalitarian systems. Each of these realities testifies to the extraordinary experience of Vilnius.
À la carte stories of Vilnius presents you with seven topics reflecting the 700-year life of the city. Each of these topics consists of seven short historical stories about the most important people, events and ideas that influenced the city. The historical plots presented in the menu recount everyday life in the city, the traditions of the capital and statehood, and the unique cultural identity of Vilnius. À la carte stories of Vilnius offers a glimpse of the city and invites you to fall in love with its rich history. Residents of Vilnius and city guests discover it every day in countless stories hidden in the streets, building facades, or casual conversations with passers-by. Behind all these stories are hundreds of others, each of which we can discover on our own.
The city, shrouded in legends, never ceases to fascinate citizens and guests alike. Over the past seven centuries, Vilnius has tamed its mystical creatures and turned them into symbols that easily conjure secrets of its storied past.More
Although Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, the city has also played the role of regional leader. It has inspired neighbouring countries with its democratic ideas, once established itself as the Jerusalem of the North, awakened a national revival and united neighbours to strive for Euro-Atlantic integration.More
The foundations of Vilnius' history were laid by celebrated documents that carried the message of the city to the world, spread democracy and inspired the creation of laws. Reforms were born in the Lithuanian capital, allowing the whole country to prosper.More
The city can be proud of being a puzzle made up of numerous pieces reflecting a diverse culture, different religions, exceptional architecture spanning various epochs, scientific discoveries, and the works of saints.More
Although the city has suffered many catastrophes, Vilnius has always able to rise again – sometimes even from the ashes – and become even greater. Vilnius took on the recognisable forms of a contemporary city while epidemics, wars and occupations broke out and subsided.More
It is impossible to imagine Vilnius without festivities. The famous feasts and historical entertainment, folk songs, operas, alternative subcultures and new rhythms formed the city as it is today.More
Life in Vilnius has changed in 700 years, but echoes of history can still be heard. From manors to Soviet modernist architecture, wooden huts to the industrial revolution, and military barracks to cafes – all of it makes the faces of Vilnius unique.More