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Vilnius (pop. 541.3 thousand), the capital of Lithuania, is the largest and one of the oldest cities of the country. Its name was first mentioned in 1323 in the letters of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas inviting craftsmen, merchants and monks from Western Europe to come and stay here. In 1387, after Lithuania adopted Christianity, the city was awarded the Magdeburg Rights, i.e. self-governing.


Vilnius was forming as a centre of tolerance where people of various nationalities, including Poles, Byelorussians, Russians, Germans, Jews and others, settled and lived in harmony. It also enjoyed prospering crafts and trade. Upon having established a university in the Lithuanian capital in 1579, Vilnius became the biggest centre of culture and education in the region.


Vilnius boasts the most wonderful architectural styles of Southern and Western Europe, Gothic and Renaissance, as well as the original “Lithuanian” Baroque, also called the last vivid flash of Baroque in Europe. During these periods the dynamic silhouettes of the majority of very elegant churches and belfry towers emerged above the city panorama. The end of the 18th century enriched the capital with beautiful buildings in the Classicist style. The capital of Lithuania is the biggest northernmost and easternmost city of Europe with especially evident influence of Western cultures in its architectural harmony. In 1994 the Old Town of Vilnius was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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Additional Photos by Grzesiek Pawelec (gp_pl) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 229 W: 111 N: 53] (1394)
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