Kapoors Year 7: Europe/Ecuador/Peru travel blog

Cathedral Square Dominates The Heart Of The Old Town, The Cathedral Is...

The Moat Was Constructed So That Ships Could Sail From The River...

The Belfry Is The Only Structure Remaining From The Original Walls And...

A Stone Tile Marks The End A Human Protest Chain, Two Million...

The Letters Spell 'Miracle', Make A Wish And Spin On One Foot...

At Another Location On Cathedral Square Stands A Statue Of Gediminas, Founder...

Gediminas Dreamt Of An Iron Wolf That Howled Like 100 Wolves, A...

He Chose This Hill In 1320; Built A Tower, A Wall And...

In The 1500s, The Townspeople Built A 2.4km Wall To Enclose One...

We Climbed To The Top Of Gediminas Hill For The View, Ignoring...

The Following Day Brought Moments Of Sunshine, We Enjoyed The Warmth And...

Not Only Did The Sun Brighten Our Spirits, It Made For Much...

Alas, The Clouds Rolled In Once More And Made An Otherwise Fabulous...

The Portal Known As The 'Gates Of Dawn' Is The Only One...

A Painting Of The Madonna Is Believed To Work Miracles, It Has...

We Followed A Self-Guided Walking Tour And Came Across Some Unusual Knitting

This Building Is Featured On Many Postcards, The Exterior Walls Have Several...

I Like This One With A Map Of The Old City Drawn...

Napoleon Loved The Exterior Of The 15th Century St. Anne's Church, He...

The Lithuanian National Drama Theatre Is Topped By Three Black-Robed Figures Leaning...

The Three Muses (Drama, Tragedy And Comedy) Hide Behind Gold Masks And...

A Smaller Theatre Tucked Away On A Side Street Has A Much...

These Three Look Like They Represent Comedy, Comedy And More Comedy

When We Noticed The Late Afternoon Sunshine, We Climbed Up Behind The...

The Armoury Is Undergoing A Major Restoration And Will Eventually House An...

Ah, Now That's A Lovely View Of The City, But We Wanted...

We Dipped Down Into A Little Valley And Passed By A Series...

And Then On Up Into A Bohemian 'Republic' Born In 1998, This...

On April Fool's Day Citizens Celebrate Their Unofficial State By Wearing Comical...

The Area Is Becoming Increasingly Gentrified, Here's A 'Before' Building

And This One Is An 'After'; Artists, Poets, Squatters And Drunks All...

I Loved This Sign Drawing Customers To A Fresh Fish Shop

We Had A Great Deal Of Difficulty Finding The Backdoor Way To...

Crosses Have Stood On This Hill Since The 17th Century, On The...

The Original Crosses Were Bulldozed By The Soviets After WWII, Pieces Of...

We Walked Back Down To The Old Town And Found Ourselves At...

We Ambled Past A Statue Of Mindaugas, The First And Only King...

On Our Last Morning, Donna And I Left Anil And Set Off...

After Returning On A Footbridge, We Turned To Admire The Array Of...


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BACKGROUND

In the interest of expediency, here are some excerpts from the Lonely Planet - Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania chapter on Lithuania:

Vilnius (vil-nyus), the baroque beauty of the Baltic, is a city of immense allure. As stunning as it is bizarre, it easily tops the country’s best-attraction bill, drawing tourists like moths to a flame with an easy, confident charm and a warm, golden glow that makes one wish for long midsummer evenings every day of the year.

The capital may be a long way north and east, but it’s quintessentially continental.

At its heart is Europe’s largest baroque old town, so precious that Unesco added it to its World Heritage list. Viewed from a hot air balloon, the skyline – pierced by countless Orthodox and Catholic Church steeples – looks like a giant bed of nails. Adding to this heady mix is a combination of cobbled alleys, crumbling corners, majestic hilltop views, breakaway states and traditional artists’ workshops – all in a city so small you’d sometimes think it was a village.

It has not always been good and grand here though. There are reminders of loss and pain too, from the horror of the KGB’s torture cells to the ghetto in the centre of all this beauty where the Jewish community lived before their mass wartime slaughter. Yet the spirit of freedom and resistance has prevailed, and the city is forging a new identity, combining the past with a present and future that involves world cuisine, a burgeoning nightlife and shiny new skyscrapers.

Legend says Vilnius was founded in the 1320s, when Lithuanian grand duke Gediminas dreamt of an iron wolf that howled with the voices of 100 wolves – a sure sign to build a city as mighty as their cry. In fact, the site had already been settled for 1000 years.

A moat, a wall and a tower on Gediminas Hill protected 14th and 15th -century Vilnius from Teutonic attacks. Tatar attacks prompted inhabitants to build a 2.4km defensive wall (1503–22), and by the end of the 16th century Vilnius was among Eastern Europe’s biggest cities.

Three centuries on, industrialization arrived: railways were laid and Vilnius became a key Jewish city. Occupied by Germany during WWI, it became an isolated pocket of Poland afterwards. WWII ushered in another German occupation and the death knoll for its Jewish population.

After the war, Vilnius’ skyline was filled with new residential suburbs populated by Lithuanians from other parts of the country alongside immigrant Russians and Belarusians. In the late 1980s, the capital was the focus of Lithuania’s push for independence from the USSR.

Vilnius has fast become a European city. In 1994 its Old Town became a Unesco World Heritage site and 15 years later shared the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture with the Austrian city Linz. In between, much of the Old Town has been restored and is now a tourist hot spot.


KAPOORS ON THE ROAD

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