15 interesting facts about Lithuania
Lithuania has a history full of legends and numerous churches, in Vilnius as many as 50, and Napoleon liked the church dedicated to St. Anna
- The capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, is located on two rivers (Neris and Villne), after which it got its name. However, the story of Vilnius should begin with King Gedeminas who lived in the 14th century. King Gedeminas was very fond of hunting. On one occasion, the king went quite far from the city, so he and his entourage spent the night in the forest on a hill. King Gedeminas fell asleep and had an unusual dream. The king then explained the dream to a pagan priest. The priest agreed that the dream was unusual and that a city should be built in that place. The king accepted the advice and that’s how Vilnius – today’s capital of Lithuania – was born. History also tells an interesting fact that the city of Vilnius was never conquered by any conqueror.
- Vilnius is also called the “City of Churches” because there are as many as 50 churches in this city. Visitors mostly see the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. There are 2 sources about the origin of this church. The first is a legend. During the war with the Russians, the then ruler had no money to pay the army. He was worried so he thought about whether to stay or run away. Staying was certain death while running away was a chance to survive. The ruler decided to escape. Dense forests protected the ruler from unwanted eyes. The ruler came across the remains of the former church while walking. He was hungry, thirsty and tired. The ruler crossed himself and swore loudly to God. If God helps the ruler to stay alive, then the ruler will build the most beautiful and largest church in the country. The ruler fulfilled his promise and built the church.
- Another legend is the story that a rich man married a girl from Italy in the 18th century. He decided to build a church. The best builders, restorers, masons and skilled masons arrived from Italy. The task was to build a church that would overshadow the other churches in the country with its beauty. The church was thus built in the Baroque style, of special beauty and special opulence. The church was decorated with 2,000 figures (which is unusual for Catholic churches). The church was built on the outskirts of the city and was never burned, damaged or demolished.
- The Church of St. Anne was built in the Gothic style. It has a red brick facade and is 500 years old. The Church of St. Anne enchanted even Napoleon Bonaparte, who once passed through these areas, with its beauty. Napoleon loudly regretted that he could not transfer the church to Paris.
- The walls of the old city center are very well preserved. There are arcades under the walls. Above one of the walls is an arch on which a smaller church was built. In this church, there is an icon of the Holy Virgin made of gold leaves. Church relics are of rare significance here. During his visit to Lithuania (1996), Pope Paul VI was in this church and prayed. Every passer-by stops here, crosses himself and says a prayer.
- Snake-shaped handles on the doors of the University bring good luck – the building of the University was built in the 16th century. There are about 4,000 students and interesting doors. The doors are made of wood and decorated with figures of the most famous Lithuanian poets. Attention was drawn to snake-like handles called “guards”. There is a belief that whoever touches the door handles will bring good luck, so many people put similar door handles.
- The building of the president of the republic is an ordinary building with an unusual park due to the huge stone figure of an elephant on whose back is a chessboard. In that place, the citizens of Vilnius gathered every day, drank beer and played chess, and hoped that one day the president would join. However, a long wall with a metal fence was built between the park and the building a little more than a decade ago.
- Cathedral Square is located at the entrance to the old town. This is an unusual and spacious square with a separate bell tower. On the top of the cathedral are 3 figures – Saint Stanislaus, Saint Helena and Casimir the Third (the only Lithuanian who fought against the invaders). In the cathedral there is a chapel with the relics of Casimir the Third. The cathedral was built by an Italian artist in the 17th century. He spent 600 kg of silver in the sarcophagus. On the upper side, he made a figure of Casimir with two normal hands. Legend has it that the artist didn’t like one hand, so he made another hand. The next day he noticed that the figure had two right hands. The artist corrected the mistake three times, but the mistake was repeated, so the Italian gave up.
9.Trakaj is a fortress built on the island of Lake Gombek in the National Park. It came from the word “trakos” (or the place where the forest was planted). Today, this once powerful city is a museum and a place of pilgrimage for newlyweds.
- In the town of Karaimov (on one part of the coast of the island of Gombek) lives an autochthonous people (brought in the Middle Ages from the Crimean peninsula). All houses are built with 3 windows facing the street – one window is for God, one for the host and one for the guests. This autochthonous people has preserved its customs, way of life, language and cuisine. Not far away, a community of Tatars was brought at the end of the 14th century for defense against the Crusaders. http://www.karaim.eu/en/history/vytautas-and-karaims/
- Lithuania is quite a flat area with fields of corn, barley, millet and oats (and there is no wheat anywhere). Then there will be plainsalternated with forests, rivers and lakes.
- The gentle elevation is in the north of Lithuania, 12 kilometers from the town of Shauljaj. It is called a hill even though it is less than 100 meters high. It has the appearance of a dry forest from a distance, although it is a forest, but not of trees, but of crosses of various sizes and appearances. There is no reliable data on the number of crosses, although some say that there are from 100,000 to around 200,000 crosses. This unique place is called Hill of Crosses. It became a place in 1851. Then the Polish prince started a fight against the Russians with the local population. Many people died because they were poorly armed and unskilled. The Russians burned the village to the ground. It was not known where the dead people rest. The survivors began to spontaneously visit the elevation not far from the village where their houses, homes and their families, friends, relatives and neighbors were. The Russians didn’t like that. The Russians issued an order in 1960 prohibiting the placing of crosses on the Hill. But the people just continued to bring crosses and stick crosses in the land.
- Pope Paul VI came to Lithuania in 1993. The Pope said that “it is the saddest place in the world” after visiting the Hill of Crosses. After that, people from all over the world began to visit the Hill to place a cross (for loved ones whose graves were unknown and who died in this place). The hill becomes a cult place. http://www.govilnius.lt
- In Vilnius, every class once had a quarter. Thus, rich people lived in a separate city area, poor people in another, merchants in a third, monks in their own area, etc. The most striking is the Jewish area, which they call “Little Jerusalem”. This area consists of narrow streets with a high wall and wooden gates (which protect the privacy of the hosts), a synagogue and a small square. As many as 250,000 Jews lived in Lithuania before the Second World War. Now there are about 5,000. In Vilnius, you should look up and down. Above because of the towers and below because of their own safety, the street is made with old uneven stone slabs (cobblestones). http://www.govilnius.lt
- In Lithuanian cuisine (as well as in other Baltic states), savory and sweet potato dishes are the most common. The meal usually starts with beetroot soup and ends with a unique dessert, “potato pancakes with filling according to your wishes”. Famous Lithuanian white beer is usually drunk. Zmogsala is an independent winter craft beer festival in Vilnius, Lithuania. The goal is to introduce the most diverse and interesting beers on our market and beer news. The participants of the festival are brewers and importers of craft beer from Lithuania and neighboring countries and, traditionally, Lithuanian home-brewers!Date: Sat, 11 Feb 2023Venue: Kablys + KulturaAddress: Kauno Gatve 5 Vilnius, 03215Country: Lithuania, http://www.zmogsala.lt/