Called the 'Jerusalem of the North' by Napoleon in 1812, Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, attracts people today as it did 200 years ago. It is a modern, vibrant city where renovation and restoration have brought back to life what had become a place known for oppression by the former Soviet Union. The harsh times of the Second World War and the fifty years following are still remembered and commemorated, especially amongst the small Jewish community that remains. The Museum of Genocide Victims is a haunting reminder of the past and has been dedicated to the persecuted victims of the Soviet years.
Location: The geographic centre of Europe
30 kilometres west of the border with Belarus, Vilnius sits in the south-eastern corner of Lithuania, where the Neris and Vilnia Rivers meet. A few kilometres to the south lies Baltoji, declared as the geographical centre of Europe in the Guinness Book of Records. It has excellent road connections that can transport you around Lithuania and also has an excellent rail network. The international airport is only 6 kilometres south of the city and has many European destinations.
Business: A conference centre in the heart of town
Vilnius has its own Conference and Exhibition Centre overlooking Vingis Park. With facilities for up to 2,000 visitors and over 10,000 square metres of meeting room space, it can offer the business traveller an easily accessible and fully equipped conference venue. It can also provide over 15,000 square metres of outdoor space for any event.
Culture: A preserved architectural centre
The buildings that make up the centre are an impressive array of Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles. It has been declared of 'Outstanding Universal Value' by UNESCO, and was made a World Heritage Site in 1994. The many periods of warfare and occupation that have fallen on the city have created a constant reconstruction throughout the ages, and formed a city full of charm and history that is a delight to walk through. The many palaces, churches, cathedrals, and other public buildings are some of the best and most well preserved of their times in Europe.
Activities: Take a tour of the historic Vilnius
Walk back in time through the streets, and see how the city has adapted to become the colourful alive place it is today. Start at the former KGB Headquarters and visit the museum dedicated to the thousands of Lithuanians that were imprisoned, deported, and murdered from the Second World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall. With a sombre heart, move on through the narrow streets and walk through the 17th Century Gate of Dawn into the Old Town. Here, you will be amazed by the architecture dating back to the 13th Century, but all this walking and sightseeing will surely make you thirsty, so finish off with a tour of the Lithuanian Brewery and taste the excellent beers they brew whilst snacking on a local delicacy, all included in the entry fee.