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Lithuania Print E-mail

 

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Officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the southernmost of the three Baltic states. Situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, it shares borders with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland, and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad to the southwest. Across the Baltic Sea to the west lies Sweden and Denmark. Its population is 3.32 million. Its capital and largest city is Vilnius.

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithuania

 

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Vilnius Cathedral

The first Christian temple is thought to have arisen in this place under King Mindaugas (c.1200-1263), around the year 1251. That church is believed to have been typically medieval, with traits that were more roman than gothic. Archaeologists have found fragments of its floor, which are on display in the crypt of the Cathedral. After the death of Mindaugas, successive rulers fell away from Christianity. For over a century, the church served as a pagan place of worship. It was in 1387, by order of the Lithuanian grand duke and Polish king Jogaila (1348-1434), that construction began here on a gothic cathedral. Dedicated to St Stanislaus and St Vladislaus, it became the episcopal see of the diocese of Vilnius, which was created in 1388. In 1419, a fire destroyed the temple. Grand Duke Vytautas (c. 1350-1430), Lithuania’s ruler at the time, arranged the construction of an imposing new gothic sanctuary. Its main façade included two towers of differing heights. The new Vilnius Cathedral, according to travellers’ accounts, was similar to the main church in the Prussian city of Frauenburg. Here all the Lithuanian grand dukes from Vytautas to Žygimantas Augustas (1520–1572) were crowned. And here some of them were buried, alongside other noblemen and bishops.

 

Gediminas Tower

Gediminas Tower is a monument which has been long considered to be a symbol of Vilnius and entire Lithuania. The Tower is built on a Gediminas Hill and could be seen from any place of the Old Town. In the times of Gediminas (1316 - 1430) the wooden Vilnius Castle was reinforced with a brick wall, and only in Vytautas times (1392 - 1430) a brick castle was built, the remnants of which can be seen in our days.

You can see the ruins of the main buildings of the castle. The West Tower is best preserved and dominates the Old Town panorama. Now it has three stories and narrows at the top. Inside this tower there are elements pertaining to the gothic style, and a stonewall.

 

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Trakai

The historical capital of Lithuania is Trakai which is otherwise known as the ‘town of lakes’. Trakai town owns a unique castle which is the only one of its type in the entire Eastern Europe. The castle is surrounded by waters on all four sides and is called the Trakai Island Castle. Though constructed in 1410 just after the famous Battle of Grünenwald as a defense fortress, it was turned into a residence of Grand Dukes of Lithuania Vytautas and K?stutis. Later on, the Trakai Island Castle was used as a prison. At these times, however, it was almost completely neglected.

 

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Hill of crosses

The Hill of Crosses is a site of pilgrimage about 12 km north of the city of Šiauliai, in northern Lithuania. The precise origin of the practice of leaving crosses on the hill is uncertain, but it is believed that the first crosses were placed on the former Jurgai?iai or Domantai hill fort after the 1831 Uprising. Over the centuries, not only crosses, but giant crucifixes, carvings of Lithuanian patriots, statues of the Virgin Mary and thousands of tiny effigies and rosaries have been brought here by Catholic pilgrims. The number of crosses is unknown, but estimates put it at about 55,000 in 1990 and 100,000 in 2006.