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Vilnius


Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania
and home of the President, the Parliament, the Government and the Supreme Court. It is also the largest city in the country with a population of 554 thousand (2011) and an area of about 400 km². Vilnius is the second biggest city of the Baltic states, after Riga.

Lying close to Vilnius is the Geographical Centre of Europe. This location is the only one listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the geographical centre of Europe.

 

Buildings occupy 29.1% of Vilnius, whereas almost half of the city is covered by green areas, that is, parks, public gardens, natural reserves, and others. Additionally, Vilnius is host to numerous lakes, where residents and visitors bath and have barbecues in the summer. Thirty lakes and 16 rivers cover 2.1% of Vilnius’ area, with some of them having sand beaches. Vilnius has access to groundwater, and there is no need to use extensive chemicals in treating surface water from lakes or rivers, providing residents with some of the cleanest and healthiest tap water access in Europe.

Vilnius Old Town is one of the largest (about 3,6 km² with over 1,500 buildings), most exquisite and most beautiful old towns in Central and Eastern Europe. The buildings in the old town were built over several centuries, creating a blend of many different architectural styles. Although Vilnius is known as a Baroque city, there are examples of Gothic, Renaissance, and other styles. Vilnius University occupies a large section of the Old Town. Founded by Jesuits in 1579, Vilnius University is amongst the oldest and most famous schools in Eastern Europe.

 

Built in the Middle Ages, Vilnius Old Town has remained authentic until today, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

 

“Vilnius is one of the greenest of the former Eastern European capitals and has a forward-thinking city government.Vilnius, whose old town is a UNESCO world heritage site, attracts young professionals, and not just from Eastern Europe, who see a rising business star in Vilnius and appreciate that entire extensive cultural scene, the little capital has to offer.”

Special Report ”Smart Cities: Hip Cities That Think About How They Work” by The New York Times, Nov, 2011.


Vilnius is inhabited by people of 128 different ethnicities (57.8% of ethnic Lithuanians, 18.7% Poles, 14% Russians, 4% Byelorussians, 0.5% Jews, and 5% of representatives of other ethnic backgrounds) which makes it the most ethnically diverse city in Lithuania. Vilnius had a large Jewish population and was known as “the Jerusalem of the North” until the German occupation during World War II.

Vilnius is a vibrant city with a very rich world-class cultural scene. In the year 2009, Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture, together with the Austrian city of Linz. The city has a Montmartre of its own – the area of the Užupis Republic, a fascinating Mecca of city’s artists.

 

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