Like all the Baltic countries, it is once again a pleasure to walk around Vilnius. The historic city center is very pleasant with many historic buildings and parks of very high quality. Vilnius is one of the greenest capitals in Europe. The historic city center is therefore surrounded by numerous parks. The whole is very clean and it is a new must see destination in the Baltic States.
In 1994 to UNESCO World heritage list was inscribed Vilnius historic centre as having outstanding universal value. It is historic part of the city formed in 14-18th centuries. Today is recognized that on prospering times Vilnius made great influence on all Central East Europe region culture and architecture development. And objects of Vilnius historical centre are extraordinary examples of architectural ensemble and landscape type.One of the most beautiful capitals in Europe since old times was famous for it’s tolerance. In this, most to the east distant Western European cultural centre, coexisted both Eastern and Western cultural traditions. In the city and it’s suburbs settled various confessions and nationalities inhabitants.
In Vilnius old town preserved authentic buildings who served defensive, residential, representative and spiritual purposes. Vilnius old town preserved gothic, renaissance, baroque, classical styles features. This city architecture is unique, because all stiles join in one harmonious esthetical unit. Very special atmosphere in Vilnius panorama create 17th century typical Vilnius baroque school domes of the churches and restrained monumental classical architecture.
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and is perhaps the most overlooked cultural capital of the three Baltic states; Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. A picturesque city of historical importance and religious significance, Lithuania’s grim past is deeply embedded in its identity today.
As I continue my tour in the capitals of the Baltic countries, I discover places that I would never have thought of discovering before. One of the peculiarities of Vilnius is its large number of green spaces. You will indeed find green spaces everywhere. The river running through Vilnius is surrounded by green space, which gives it a special charm. A quiet town to visit. The city center of Vilnius, like all the capitals of the Baltic countries, is definitely worth a visit. I was surprised by the number of parks, the cleanliness of the city center, and the quality of life.
The Old Town, historical centre of Vilnius, is one of the largest in Eastern Europe. The most valuable historic and cultural heritage is concentrated here. The buildings in the old town – there are about 1.5 thousand of them – were built in a number of different centuries, therefore, it is a mixture of all European architectural styles. Although Vilnius is often called a baroque city, here you will find some buildings of gothic, renaissance and other styles. The main sights of the city are the Gediminas Castle and the Cathedral Square, symbols of the capital. Their combination is also a gateway to the historic centre of the capital. Because of its uniqueness, the Old Town of Vilnius was inscribed on the UNESCO Worls Heritage List.
Bastion Hill is one of the most romantic places in central Riga, as it features narrow paths, alleys of trees, stone garden, water cascade… The park right next to the Freedom Monument has been a delight to an eye and soul for more than a century. Either it’s winter or summer – special amosphere is always here.The paths run around the hill on different levels; they can take you to the very top where a nice view opens on the evening sun or the busy city or walk you around the hill to show the splendid scenery.Artificial waterfalls, colourful flowers, several sculptures, and benches to take a rest. Pay attention to the small bridges; the just married have left their padlocks here, which, according to belief, brings a long life and happiness.Ducks and swans have beloved the canal. A special swan house is set up here on the bank. If you are lucky, you’ll see the canal’s most interesting residents – badges.But at summertime, a dock next to the park is open to all those who would like to take a river tram or a boat.
Vērmanes Garden Park is Riga’s second oldest public park; the numerous benches are always occupied by Rigans and visitors to the city, the historic open-air stage features various concerts, and children have fun on the park’s playground.Vērmanes Garden Park is situated in the very centre of the city, surrounded by Tērbatas, Elizabetes, Krišjāņa Barona and Merķeļa streets. Riga’s second oldest park was created by donations in early 19th century. It was named after the wealthy widow Anna Gertrud Vērmane (born Ebel, 1750.-1827), who had allocated a piece of land and a great sum of money for the park. Now a statue to the generous lady stands there.Vērmanes Garden Park features various sculptures – splendid four season fountain, majestic stone lions, a monument to the collector of Latvian folk songs – Krišjānis Barons, and a bronze dandy – a monument to Latvian artist and designer Kārlis Padegs – on the other side of the fence. The garden park turns into a fairy tale during a year’s darkest period as it features strings of beaming lamps, music, and giant snow-menThe wooden open-air stage on the Elizabetes Street side is popular with chess players; sometimes it holds concerts and performances of dance groups. Having strolled through the park, relax in the cosy tea house or a night club located in the historic building at the corner of Tērbatas and Merķeļa streets. Now the renovated premises houses the music centre Vernisāža, established by Latvian composer Raimonds Pauls.
Promenade Daugava River
The promenade on the right side of the Daugava River stretches from Old Town all the way to the Ķengarags suburb of Riga. An excellent place where one can be near the water and enjoy a stroll.The section of the promenade adjacent to Old Town is where river boats dock to pick up and drop off tourists. This is also an excellent place to relax on a bench and enjoy the view of the river. Meanwhile, on the section between Akmens Bridge and the Railroad Bridge, there are excellent views of the Latvian National Library building.Furthermore, the section beyond the Railroad Bridge is popular for active residents – it is perfect for a bike ride, jogging and roller skating.
This centrally-located park is 8.75 hectares large, and surrounded by Elizabetes, Kalpaka, Krišjāņa Valdemāra and Brīvības streets.A monument for Oskars Kalpaks, Rainis, the Birth of Christ Orthodox Cathedral, the Latvian National Museum of Art and the Art Academy of Latvia are located in the park. The present greenery was created in 1950 as a partially communicating park.
Kronvalda Park (originally Strēlnieku Garden) is 11.92 hectares in area, with the city canal running through it. Bordering Elizabetes, Kr. Valdemāra streets, Kronvalda and Kalpaka boulevards.The city canal splits the park into two parts. After dismantling the city dikes in 1863, the Union of Riga German Riflemen erected a society house and a shooting-ground on the right side of the park. Later, in 1883, this part was enlarged according to a project by architect Georgs Kūfalts with around 2,000 rosebushes blossoming in flowerbeds and rose-gardens. After 1927 the State handed the whole garden, except for the Riga Congress Centre, over to the city’s inhabitants, and garden architect Andrejs Zeidaks started creating a landscaped park here. During 1930’s the park was named after member of the Young Latvians Movement Atis Kronvalds.
I continue my excursion in the Baltic States. For this reason I am heading a little further south in Latvia to take a tour of the capitals of the Baltic countries. Riga is a larger capital with an interesting history. Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States.
To get around Tallinn and Riga, or between Riga and Vilnius, it is easily possible to take the bus. This is the most direct way. For a very affordable price, it is possible to travel between these capitals over a period of 4 to 5 hours. The bus is even the best way because the train is not direct to make the connection.
The historic city center of Riga is very pretty and very impressive. Although the city is quite large, it has a transport network combining bus and tram. The historic city center can be reached on foot. Apart from the high quality historic buildings in the city center, there are many parks, which makes the whole very pleasant and more peaceful.
For the rest, there are not big differences between the Baltic countries, which means that the operating mode remains the same. Lots of scooters in the streets, a peaceful historic town center, parks, cafes and restaurants. Once again, these capitals are often overlooked but nevertheless offer a good quality of life and many interesting things to see.