In 2021, UNESCO granted Vilnius the City of Literature status. This made us think whether we write and read enough, how creative we are, and what creativity gives to Lithuania and the world. No matter where the most prominent Lithuanian creators were born, the paths of their creative lives often led to Vilnius and then continue elsewhere to Europe and all over the world.
In the 17th century, Vilnius Jesuit Academy graduate Motiejus Kazimieras Sarbievijus (Mathias Casimirus Sarbievius in Latin) wrote poetry in Latin and was popular throughout Europe. This was a powerful export of the city’s Baroque culture.
Designed by Laurynas Gucevičius, Vilnius Cathedral is described in the Oxford Dictionary of Architecture as an example of neoclassical purity found nowhere else in Europe. Moreover, Gucevičius’ work was also admired outside the borders of Lithuania.
The same can be said of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, who met intellectuals specifically in Vilnius and organised his first exhibitions of paintings and concerts in this city.
Samuel Bak had his first exhibition of drawings in the Vilnius Ghetto. He was only nine years old at the time, and now his pieces of art are exhibited in galleries around the world.
Vilnius inspired Czesław Miłosz and Adam Mickiewicz; the world learned about our city from Jurgis Kunčinas and Ričardas Gavelis; the work of modern-day writer Kristina Sabaliauskaitė is also adorned with reflections of Vilnius; and film director Giedrė Žickytė, who has won dozens of international awards, says that Vilnius Old Town emits a special light that reveals the beauty of its architecture in a different way every day.
Theatre, art, dance, literature, cinema – these are the areas and representatives that have and continue to make Vilnius famous. Looking at their successes, we are proud to call Vilnius home. One recent example of this is the opera Sun and the Sea, which won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale. Residents of Vilnius also had a chance to see and hear it in Lithuanian this year.