Vilnius (Lithuanian pronunciation: [ˈvʲɪlʲnʲʊs] (listen), see also other names) is the capital of Lithuania and its largest city, with a population of 574,147 as of 2018. Vilnius is in the southeast part of Lithuania and is the second largest city in the Baltic states. Vilnius is the seat of the main government institutions of Lithuania and the Vilnius District Municipality. Vilnius is classified as a Gamma global city according to GaWC studies, and is known for the architecture in its Old Town, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Before World War II, Vilnius was one of the largest Jewish centres in Europe. Its Jewish influence has led to it being described as the "Jerusalem of Lithuania" and Napoleon named it "the Jerusalem of the North" as he was passing through in 1812. In 2009, Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture, together with the Austrian city of Linz.
Unitas, Justitia, Spes
(Latin: Unity, Justice, Hope)
Interactive map of Vilnius
Location within Lithuania
Location within the Baltics
Location within Europe
|Municipality||Vilnius City Municipality|
|Granted city rights||1387|
|• Type||City council|
|• Mayor||Remigijus Šimašius (Liberal)|
|• City||401 km2 (155 sq mi)|
|• Metro||9,731 km2 (3,757 sq mi)|
|Elevation||112 m (367 ft)|
|• Rank||(53rd in EU)|
|• Density||1,392/km2 (3,610/sq mi)|
|• Metro||805,367including Vilnius County|
|• Metro density||83/km2 (210/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
|Area code(s)||(+370) 5|
|- Total||€17.2 billion($38 billion, PPP)|
|- Per capita||€21,300($47,000, PPP)|
|HDI (2017)||0.896 – very high|
|Official name||Historic Centre of Vilnius|
|Designated||1994 (18th session)|
The name of the city originates from the Vilnia River. The city has also been known by many derivate spellings in various languages throughout its history: Vilna was once common in English. The most notable non-Lithuanian names for the city include: Polish: Wilno, Belarusian: Вiльня, German: Wilna, Latvian: Viļņa, Russian: Вильна, Ukrainian: Вільно, Yiddish: ווילנע (Vilne). A Russian name from the time of the Russian Empire was Вильна (Vilna), although Вильнюс (Vilnyus) is now used. The names Wilno, Wilna and Vilna have also been used in older English, German, French and Italian language publications when the city was one of the capitals of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and later an important city in the Second Polish Republic. The name Vilna is still used in Finnish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Hebrew. Wilna is still used in German, along with Vilnius.
The neighborhoods of Vilnius also have names in other languages, which represent the languages spoken by various ethnic groups in the area.
According to the legend, Grand Duke Gediminas (c. 1275–1341) was hunting in the sacred forest near the Valley of Šventaragis, near where Vilnia River flows into the Neris River. Tired after the successful hunt of a wisent, the Grand Duke settled in for the night. He fell soundly asleep and dreamed of a huge Iron Wolf standing on top a hill and howling as strong and loud as a hundred wolves. Upon awakening, the Duke asked the krivis (pagan priest) Lizdeika to interpret the dream. And the priest told him: "What is destined for the ruler and the State of Lithuania, is thus: the Iron Wolf represents a castle and a city which will be established by you on this site. This city will be the capital of the Lithuanian lands and the dwelling of their rulers, and the glory of their deeds shall echo throughout the world." Therefore, Gediminas, obeying the will of the gods, built the city, and gave it the name Vilnius – from the stream of the Vilnia River.
Historian Romas Batūra identifies the city with Voruta, one of the castles of Mindaugas, crowned in 1253 as King of Lithuania. During the reign of Vytenis a city started to emerge from a trading settlement and the first Franciscan Catholic church was built.
The city was first mentioned in written sources in 1323 as Vilna, when the Letters of Grand Duke Gediminas were sent to German cities inviting Germans (including German Jews) to settle in the capital city, as well as to Pope John XXII. These letters contain the first unambiguous reference to Vilnius as the capital; Old Trakai Castle had been the earlier seat of the court of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
According to legend, Gediminas dreamt of an iron wolf howling on a hilltop and consulted a pagan priest Lizdeika for its interpretation. He was told: "What is destined for the ruler and the State of Lithuania, is thus: the Iron Wolf represents a castle and a city which will be established by you on this site. This city will be the capital of the Lithuanian lands and the dwelling of their rulers, and the glory of their deeds shall echo throughout the world". The location offered practical advantages: it lay in the Lithuanian heartland at the confluence of two navigable rivers, surrounded by forests and wetlands that were difficult to penetrate. The duchy had been subject to intrusions by the Teutonic Knights.
Vilnius was the flourishing capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the residence of the Grand Duke. Gediminas expanded the Grand Duchy through warfare along with strategic alliances and marriages. At its height it covered the territory of modern-day Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Transnistria, and portions of modern-day Poland and Russia. His grandchildren Vytautas the Great and Jogaila, however, fought civil wars. During the Lithuanian Civil War of 1389–1392, Vytautas besieged and razed the city in an attempt to wrest control from Jogaila. The two later settled their differences; after a series of treaties culminating in the 1569 Union of Lublin, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was formed. The rulers of this federation held either or both of two titles: Grand Duke of Lithuania or King of Poland. In 1387, Jogaila acting as a Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland Władysław II Jagiełło, granted Magdeburg rights to the city.
The city underwent a period of expansion. The Vilnius city walls were built for protection between 1503 and 1522, comprising nine city gates and three towers, and Sigismund August moved his court there in 1544.
Its growth was due in part to the establishment of Alma Academia et Universitas Vilnensis Societatis Iesu by the Polish King and Grand Duke of Lithuania Stefan Bathory in 1579. The university soon developed into one of the most important scientific and cultural centres of the region and the most notable scientific centre of the Commonwealth.
During its rapid development, the city was open to migrants from the territories of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, Grand Duchy and further. A variety of languages were spoken: Polish, German, Yiddish, Ruthenian, Lithuanian, Russian, Old Church Slavonic, Latin, Hebrew, and Turkic languages; the city was compared to Babylon. Each group made its unique contribution to the life of the city, and crafts, trade, and science prospered.
The 17th century brought a number of setbacks. The Commonwealth was involved in a series of wars, collectively known as The Deluge. During the Russo-Polish War (1654–1667), Vilnius was occupied by Russian forces; it was pillaged and burned, and its population was massacred. During the Great Northern War it was looted by the Swedish army. An outbreak of bubonic plague in 1710 killed about 35,000 residents; devastating fires occurred in 1715, 1737, 1741, 1748, and 1749. The city's growth lost its momentum for many years, but even despite this fact, at the end of the 18th century and before the Napoleon wars, Vilnius, with 56,000 inhabitants, entered the Russian Empire as its 3rd largest city.
The fortunes of the Commonwealth declined during the 18th century. Three partitions took place, dividing its territory among the Russian Empire, the Habsburg Empire, and the Kingdom of Prussia. After the third partition of April 1795, Vilnius was annexed by the Russian Empire and became the capital of the Vilna Governorate. During Russian rule, the city walls were destroyed, and by 1805 only the Gate of Dawn remained. In 1812, the city was taken by Napoleon on his push towards Moscow, and again during the disastrous retreat. The Grande Armée was welcomed in Vilnius. Thousands of soldiers died in the city during the eventual retreat; the mass graves were uncovered in 2002. Inhabitants expected Tsar Alexander I to grant them autonomy in response to Napoleon's promises to restore the Commonwealth, but Vilnius did not become autonomous, neither by itself nor as a part of Congress Poland.
Following the November Uprising in 1831, Vilnius University was closed and Russian repressions halted the further development of the city. Civil unrest in 1861 was suppressed by the Imperial Russian Army.
During the January Uprising in 1863, heavy fighting occurred within the city, but was brutally pacified by Mikhail Muravyov, nicknamed The Hangman by the population because of the number of executions he organized. After the uprising, all civil liberties were withdrawn, and use of the Polish and Lithuanian languages was banned. Vilnius had a vibrant Jewish population: according to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 154,500, Jews constituted 64,000 (approximately 40%). During the early 20th century, the Lithuanian-speaking population of Vilnius constituted only a small minority, with Polish, Yiddish, and Russian speakers comprising the majority of the city's population.
During World War I, Vilnius and the rest of Lithuania was occupied by the German Army from 1915 until 1918. The Act of Independence of Lithuania, declaring Lithuanian independence from any affiliation to any other nation, was issued in the city on 16 February 1918. After the withdrawal of German forces, the city was briefly controlled by Polish self-defence units, which were driven out by advancing Soviet forces. Vilnius changed hands again during the Polish–Soviet War and the Lithuanian Wars of Independence: it was taken by the Polish Army, only to fall to Soviet forces again. Shortly after its defeat in the battle of Warsaw, the retreating Red Army, in order to delay the Polish advance, ceded the city to Lithuania after signing the Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty on 12 July 1920.
Poland and Lithuania both perceived the city as their own. The League of Nations became involved in the subsequent dispute between the two countries. The League brokered the Suwałki Agreement on 7 October 1920. Although neither Vilnius or the surrounding region was explicitly addressed in the agreement, numerous historians have described the agreement as allotting Vilnius to Lithuania. On 9 October 1920, the Polish Army surreptitiously, under General Lucjan Żeligowski, seized Vilnius during an operation known as Żeligowski's Mutiny. The city and its surroundings were designated as a separate state, called the Republic of Central Lithuania. On 20 February 1922 after the highly contested election in Central Lithuania, the entire area was annexed by Poland, with the city becoming the capital of the Wilno Voivodship (Wilno being the name of Vilnius in Polish). Kaunas then became the temporary capital of Lithuania. Lithuania vigorously contested the Polish annexation of Vilnius, and refused diplomatic relations with Poland. The predominant languages of the city were still Polish and, to a lesser extent, Yiddish. The Lithuanian-speaking population at the time was a small minority, at about 6% of the city's population according even to contemporary Lithuanian sources. The Council of Ambassadors and the international community (with the exception of Lithuania) recognized Polish sovereignty over Vilnus region in 1923.
Vilnius University was reopened in 1919 under the name of Stefan Batory University. By 1931, the city had 195,000 inhabitants, making it the fifth largest city in Poland with varied industries, such as Elektrit, a factory that produced radio receivers.
World War II began with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. The secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had partitioned Lithuania and Poland into German and Soviet spheres of interest. On 19 September 1939, Vilnius was seized by the Soviet Union (which invaded Poland on 17 September). The USSR and Lithuania concluded a mutual assistance treaty on 10 October 1939, with which the Lithuanian government accepted the presence of Soviet military bases in various parts of the country. On 28 October 1939, the Red Army withdrew from the city to its suburbs (to Naujoji Vilnia) and Vilnius was given over to Lithuania. A Lithuanian Army parade took place on 29 October 1939 through the city centre. The Lithuanians immediately attempted to Lithuanize the city, for example by Lithuanizing Polish schools. However, the whole of Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union on 3 August 1940 following a June ultimatum from the Soviets demanding, among other things, that unspecified numbers of Red Army soldiers be allowed to enter the country for the purpose of helping to form a more pro-Soviet government. After the ultimatum was issued and Lithuania further occupied, a Soviet government was installed with Vilnius as the capital of the newly created Lithuanian SSR. Between 20,000 and 30,000 of the city's inhabitants were subsequently arrested by the NKVD and sent to gulags in the far eastern areas of the Soviet Union. The Soviets devastated city industries, moving the major Polish radio factory Elektrit, along with a part of its labour force, to Minsk in Belarus, where it was renamed the Vyacheslav Molotov Radio Factory, after Stalin's Minister of Foreign Affairs.
On 22 June 1941, the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union. Vilnius was captured on 24 June. Two ghettos were set up in the old town centre for the large Jewish population – the smaller one of which was "liquidated" by October. The larger ghetto lasted until 1943, though its population was regularly deported in roundups known as "Aktionen". A failed ghetto uprising on 1 September 1943 organized by the Fareinigte Partizaner Organizacje (the United Partisan Organization, the first Jewish partisan unit in German-occupied Europe), was followed by the final destruction of the ghetto. During the Holocaust, about 95% of the 265,000-strong Jewish population of Lithuania was murdered by the German units and Lithuanian Nazi collaborators, many of them in Paneriai, about 10 km (6.2 mi) west of the old town centre (see the Ponary massacre).
In July 1944, Vilnius was captured from the Germans by the Soviet Army and the Polish Armia Krajowa (see Operation Ostra Brama and the Vilnius Offensive). The NKVD arrested the leaders of the Armia Krajowa after requesting a meeting. Shortly afterwards, the town was once again incorporated into the Soviet Union as the capital of the Lithuanian SSR.
The war had irreversibly altered the town – most of the predominantly Polish and Jewish population had been expelled and exterminated respectively, during and after the German occupation. Some members of the intelligentsia and former Waffen SS members hiding in the forest were now targeted and deported to Siberia after the war. The majority of the remaining population was compelled to move to Communist Poland by 1946, and Sovietization began in earnest. Only in the 1960s did Vilnius begin to grow again, following an influx of Lithuanians and Poles from neighbouring regions and from other areas of the Soviet Union (particularly Russia and Belarus). Microdistricts were built in the elderates of Šeškinė, Žirmūnai, Justiniškės and Fabijoniškės.
On 11 March 1990, the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian SSR announced its secession from the Soviet Union and intention to restore an independent Republic of Lithuania. As a result of these declarations, on 9 January 1991, the Soviet Union sent in troops. This culminated in the 13 January attack on the State Radio and Television Building and the Vilnius TV Tower, killing at least fourteen civilians and seriously injuring 700 more. The Soviet Union finally recognised Lithuanian independence in September 1991. The current Constitution, as did the earlier Lithuanian Constitution of 1922, mentions that "the capital of the State of Lithuania shall be the city of Vilnius, the long-standing historical capital of Lithuania".
Vilnius has been rapidly transformed, and the town has emerged as a modern European city. Many of its older buildings have been renovated, and a business and commercial area is being developed into the New City Centre, expected to become the city's main administrative and business district on the north side of the Neris river. This area includes modern residential and retail space, with the municipality building and the 129-metre (423 ft) Europa Tower as its most prominent buildings. The construction of Swedbank's headquarters is symbolic of the importance of Scandinavian banks in Vilnius. The building complex Vilnius Business Harbour was built in 2008, and one of its towers is now the 5th tallest building in Lithuania. More buildings are scheduled for construction in the area. Vilnius was selected as a 2009 European Capital of Culture, along with Linz, the capital of Upper Austria. Its 2009 New Year's Eve celebration, marking the event, featured a light show said to be "visible from outer space". In preparation, the historical centre of the city was restored, and its main monuments were renovated. The global economic crisis led to a drop in tourism which prevented many of the projects from reaching their planned extent, and allegations of corruption and incompetence were made against the organisers, while tax increases for cultural activity led to public protests and the general economic conditions sparked riots. In 2015 Remigijus Šimašius became the first directly elected mayor of the city.
On 28–29 November 2013, Vilnius hosted the Eastern Partnership Summit in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Many European presidents, prime ministers and other high-ranking officials participated in the event. On 29 November 2013, Georgia and Moldova signed association and free trade agreements with the European Union. Previously, Ukraine and Armenia were also expected to sign the agreements but postponed the decision, sparking large protests in Ukraine.
Vilnius lies 312 km (194 mi) from the Baltic Sea and Klaipėda, the chief Lithuanian seaport. Vilnius is connected by highways to other major Lithuanian cities, such as Kaunas (102 km or 63 mi away), Šiauliai (214 km or 133 mi away) and Panevėžys (135 km or 84 mi away).
The current area of Vilnius is 402 square kilometres (155 sq mi). Buildings occupy 29.1% of the city; green spaces occupy 68.8%; and waters occupy 2.1%.
The climate of Vilnius is humid continental (Köppen climate classification Dfb). Temperature records have been kept since 1777. The average annual temperature is 6.7 °C (44 °F); in January the average temperature is −4.3 °C (24 °F), in July it is 18.1 °C (65 °F). The average precipitation is about 682 millimetres (26.85 in) per year. Average annual temperatures in the city have increased significantly during the last 30 years, a change which the Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service attributes to global warming induced by human activities.
Summer days are pleasantly warm and sometimes hot, especially in July and August, with temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) throughout the day during periodic heat waves. Night-life in Vilnius is in full swing at this time of year, and outdoor bars, restaurants and cafés become very popular during the daytime.
Winters can be very cold, with temperatures rarely reaching above freezing – temperatures below −25 °C (−13 °F) are not unheard-of in January and February. Vilnius's rivers freeze over in particularly cold winters, and the lakes surrounding the city are almost always permanently frozen during this time of year. A popular pastime is ice-fishing.
|Climate data for Vilnius (1981-2010 normals, sun 1961-1990)|
|Record high °C (°F)||11.0
|Average high °C (°F)||−1.9
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−4.3
|Average low °C (°F)||−6.6
|Record low °C (°F)||−37.2
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||48.7
|Average precipitation days||12.4||10.5||9.6||8.6||9.6||11.4||10.7||9.6||9.6||10.1||10.4||12.2||124.8|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||36||71||117||164||241||231||219||217||140||94||33||25||1,588|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organization (avg high and low) NOAA (sun, extremes, and mean temperatures)|
|Source #2: Météo Climat |
According to the census, 52.4% of the inhabitants were local, while others settled in the city from other regions. Among the townsmen class, there were 36,576 newcomers (among whose, 17,465 were born in Vilna Governorate). Among the peasant newcomers, 16,312 came from other localities of Vilna Governorate and 16,054 from the other governorates. Among the nobility class in Vilnius during the census of 1897, there were 5,301 (46.3%) local nobles and 6,403 (54.7%) newcomers. 24.1% of these noble newcomers came from Vilna Governorate territories, while the rest newcomers nobles came to Vilnius from Grodno Governorate, Minsk Governorate, Vitebsk Governorate, Kovno Governorate, Vistula Land and other regions.:303
Demographic evolution of Vilnius between 1766 and 2017:
|Source: :214, 303 ¹ Sharp decline after the Vilnius Uprising (1794); ² Decline of population due to Napoleonic wars and the aftermath; ³ Sharp decline of population of Vilnius because of World War I and the aftermath during the clashes around Vilnius. These resulted in evacuation of Russian military, bureaucracy and the majority of its Russian inhabitants from Vilnius in 1915, as well as fleeing or evacuation of other Vilnius inhabitants of various communities (mostly Jewish and Lithuanian) to Russia and rural parts of Lithuania; ⁴ Rise of population due to influx of Polish and Jewish war refugees and migration of Lithuanian bureaucracy, students from temporary capital Kaunas and other localities in Lithuania; ⁵ Sharp decline of population after atrocities of World War II and The Holocaust|
There are 65 churches in Vilnius. Like most medieval towns, Vilnius was developed around its Town Hall. Pilies Street, the main artery, links the Royal Palace with Town Hall. Other streets meander through the palaces of feudal lords and landlords, churches, shops and craftsmen's workrooms. Narrow, curved streets and intimate courtyards developed in the radial layout of medieval Vilnius.
The Old Town of Vilnius is the historical centre of Vilnius about 3.6 km2 (1.4 sq mi) in size. The most valuable historic and cultural sites are concentrated here. The buildings in the old town—there are nearly 1,500—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 (e.g. Church of St. Anne), Renaissance, and other styles. Their combination is also a gateway to the historic centre of the capital. Owing to its uniqueness, the Old Town of Vilnius was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. Vilnius University's main campus's features 13 courtyards framed by 15th century buildings and splashed with 300-year-old frescoes, and the Church of St. Johns. The Gate of Dawn, the only surviving gate of the first original five gates in the city wall, hosts the painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which has been said to have miracle-working powers. Over 200 tiles and commemorative plaques to writers, who have lived and worked in Vilnius, and foreign authors, who have shared a connection with Vilnius and Lithuania, adorn a wall on Literatų street (Lithuanian: Literatų gatvė) in the Old Town, presenting a broad overview of the history of Lithuanian literature. In Antakalnis district there is Church of St. Peter and St. Paul – a masterpiece of the 17th-century Baroque famous for its exceptional interior where one can see about 2,000 stucco figures.
In 1995, the world's first bronze cast of Frank Zappa was installed in the Naujamiestis district with the permission of the government. The Frank Zappa sculpture confirmed the newly found freedom of expression and marked the beginning of a new era for Lithuanian society.
The Vilnius Castle Complex, a group of defensive, cultural, and religious buildings that includes Gediminas Tower of the Upper Castle (which is a part of National Museum of Lithuania), Cathedral Square and the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Lithuania's largest art collection is housed in the Lithuanian Art Museum. One branch of it, the Vilnius Picture Gallery in the Old Town, houses a collection of Lithuanian art from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century. On the other side of the Neris, the National Art Gallery holds a permanent exhibition on Lithuanian 20th-century art, as well as numerous exhibitions on modern art. The House of the Signatories, where the 1918 Act of Independence of Lithuania was signed, is now a historic landmark. The Museum of Genocide Victims is dedicated to the victims of the Soviet era.
The Contemporary Art Centre is the largest venue for contemporary art in the Baltic States, with an exhibition space of 2400 square meters. The Centre is a non-collection based institution committed to developing a broad range of international and Lithuanian exhibition projects as well as presenting a wide range of public programmes including lectures, seminars, performances, film and video screenings, and live new music events.
The Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, named for the author of the first book printed in the Lithuanian language, holds 6,912,266 physical items. The biggest book fair in Baltic States is annually held in Vilnius at LITEXPO, the Baltic's biggest exhibition centre.
On 10 November 2007, the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center was opened by avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas. Its premiere exhibition was entitled The Avant-Garde: From Futurism to Fluxus. The Modern Art Centre, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018, will become a new cultural space for the city of Vilnius. It will host a private collection of modern and contemporary Lithuanian visual art. The museum will host exhibitions featuring works from Saint Petersburg's Hermitage Museum and the Guggenheim Museums, along with non-commercial avant-garde cinema, a library, a museum of Lithuanian Jewish culture, and collections of works by Jonas Mekas and Jurgis Mačiūnas.
The Užupis district near the Old Town, which used to be one of the more run down districts of Vilnius during the Soviet era, is home to a movement of bohemian artists, who operate numerous art galleries and workshops. Užupis declared itself an independent republic on April Fool's Day in 1997. In the main square, the statue of an angel blowing a trumpet stands as a symbol of artistic freedom.
In 2015, the project of Vilnius Talking Statues was realized. 15 statues around Vilnius now interact with visitors in multiple languages by a simple telephone call to a smart phone.
Vilnius City Opera – an independent opera theatre in Lithuania, blends classical with contemporary art. Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, State Small Theatre of Vilnius, State Youth Theatre and a number of private theatre companies, including OKT / Vilnius City Theatre, Anželika Cholina dance theatre and others, show classical, modern and Lithuanian playwriting directed by world-known Lithuanian and foreign directors.
The Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society is the largest and oldest state owned concert organization in Lithuania, whose main activity is to organise and coordinate live concerts, diverse classical/classical contemporary/jazz music events and tours throughout Lithuania and abroad. The Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra every year builds up a wide-ranging repertoire, introduces exceptional programs, and invites young talent to perform along with outstanding and recognized soloists.
Vilnius is the major economic centre of Lithuania. GDP per capita (nominal) in Vilnius county was €21,300 (US$47,000, in Purchasing power) in 2017, making it the wealthiest region in Lithuania and second wealthiest region in Baltic States.
The city has 12 primary schools, 19 progymnasiums and 42 gymnasiums.
The city has many universities. The largest and oldest is Vilnius University with 20,864 students. Its main premises are in the Old Town. The university has been ranked among the top 500 universities in the world by QS World University Rankings. The University is participating in projects with UNESCO and NATO, among others. It features Masters programs in English and Russian, as well as programs delivered in cooperation with universities all over Europe. The university is currently divided into 12 faculties, 7 institutes, and 4 study and research centres.
Other major universities include Mykolas Romeris University (17,739 students as of 2013), Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (10,500 students), and Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences (3,550 students). Specialized higher schools with university status include General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and Vilnius Academy of Arts. The museum associated with the Vilnius Academy of Arts holds about 12,000 artworks.
Several colleges are also in Vilnius including Vilnius College, Vilnius College of Technologies and Design, International School of Law and Business and others.
Already in the 17th century Vilnius was known as a city of many religions. In 1600, Samuel Lewkenor's book describing cities with universities was published in London. Lewkenor mentions that citizens of Vilnius included Catholics, Orthodox, followers of John Calvin and Martin Luther, Jews and Tartar Muslims.
Throughout the 17th century Vilnius had a reputation as a city which had no rivals in Europe in the number of churches of different confessions. At the end of the century, this reputation was confirmed by the highly regarded (and several times republished) work by Robert Morden, "Geography Rectified or a Description of the World", which said that no other city in the world could surpass Vilnius in the number of churches and temples of various faiths, except perhaps Amsterdam.
Today Vilnius is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vilnius, with the main church institutions and Archdiocesan Cathedral (Vilnius Cathedral) here. Vilnius became the birthplace of the Divine Mercy Devotion when Saint Faustina began her mission under the guidance and discernment of her new spiritual director Fr. Michał Sopoćko. In 1934, the first Divine Mercy painting was painted by Eugene Kazimierowski under the supervision of Faustina and it presently hangs in the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Vilnius. Numerous other Christian Beatified persons, martyrs, Servants of God and Saints, are associated with Vilnius. These, among others, include Franciscan martyrs of Vilnius, Orthodox martyrs Anthony, John, and Eustathius, Saint Casimir, Josaphat Kuntsevych, Andrew Bobola, Raphael Kalinowski, Jurgis Matulaitis.
There are a number of other active Roman Catholic churches in the city, along with small enclosed monasteries and religion schools. Church architecture includes Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical styles, with important examples of each found in the Old Town. Additionally, Eastern Rite Catholicism has maintained a presence in Vilnius since the Union of Brest. The Baroque Basilian Gate is part of an Eastern Rite monastery.
Once widely known as Yerushalayim De Lita (the "Jerusalem of Lithuania"), Vilnius, since the 18th century, was a world centre for the study of the Torah, and had a large Jewish population. A major scholar of Judaism and Kabbalah centred in Vilnius was the famous Rabbi Eliyahu Kremer, also known as the Vilna Gaon. His writings have significant influence among Orthodox Jews to this day. Jewish life in Vilnius was destroyed during the Holocaust; there is a memorial stone dedicated to victims of Nazi genocide in the centre of the former Jewish Ghetto — now Mėsinių Street. The Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum is dedicated to the history of Lithuanian Jewish life. The site of Vilnius's largest synagogue, built in the early 1630s and wrecked by Nazi Germany during its occupation of Lithuania, was found by ground-penetrating radar in June 2015, with excavations set to begin in 2016.
The Karaites are a Jewish sect that migrated to Lithuania from the Crimea. Although their numbers are very small, the Karaites are becoming more prominent since Lithuanian independence, and have restored their kenesa.
Vilnius has been home to an Eastern Orthodox Christian presence since the 13th or even the 12th century. A famous Russian Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Spirit, is near the Gate of Dawn. St. Paraskeva's Orthodox Church in the Old Town is the site of the baptism of Hannibal, the great-grandfather of Pushkin, by Tsar Peter the Great in 1705. Many Old Believers, who split from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1667, settled in Lithuania. The Church of St. Michael and St. Constantine was built in 1913. Today a Supreme Council of the Old Believers is based in Vilnius.
The pre-Christian religion of Lithuania, centred on the forces of nature as personified by deities such as Perkūnas (the Thunder God), is experiencing some increased interest. Romuva established a Vilnius branch in 1991.
Almost half of Vilnius is covered by green areas, such as parks, public gardens, natural reserves. Additionally, Vilnius is host to numerous lakes, where residents and visitors swim and have barbecues in the summer. Thirty lakes and 16 rivers cover 2.1% of Vilnius' area, with some of them having sand beaches.
Vingis Park, the city's largest, hosted several major rallies during Lithuania's drive towards independence in the 1980s. Concerts, festivals, and exhibitions are held at Bernardinai Garden, near Gediminas Tower. Sections of the annual Vilnius Marathon pass along the public walkways on the banks of the Neris River. The green area next to the White Bridge is another popular area to enjoy good weather, and has become venue for several music and large screen events.
Cathedral Square in Old Town is surrounded by a number of the city's most historically significant sites. Lukiškės Square is the largest, bordered by several governmental buildings: the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Polish Embassy, and the Genocide Victims' Museum, where the KGB tortured and murdered numerous opposers of the communist regime. An oversized statue of Lenin in its centre was removed in 1991. Town Hall Square has long been a centre of trade fairs, celebrations, and events in Vilnius, including the Kaziukas Fair. The city Christmas tree is decorated there. State ceremonies are often held in Daukantas Square, facing the Presidential Palace.
Rasos Cemetery, consecrated in 1801, is the burial site of Jonas Basanavičius and other signatories of the 1918 Act of Independence, along with the heart of Polish leader Józef Piłsudski. Two of the three Jewish cemeteries in Vilnius were destroyed by communist authorities during the Soviet era; the remains of the Vilna Gaon were moved to the remaining one. A monument was erected at the place where Užupis Old Jewish Cemetery was. About 18,000 burials have been made in the Bernardine Cemetery, established in 1810; it was closed during the 1970s and is now being restored. Antakalnis Cemetery, established in 1809, contains various memorials to Polish, Lithuanian, German and Russian soldiers, along with the graves of those who were killed during the January Events.
Several teams are based in the city. The largest is the basketball club BC Rytas, which participates in European competitions such as the Euroleague and Eurocup, the domestic Lithuanian Basketball League, winning the ULEB Cup (predecessor to the Eurocup) in 2005 and the Eurocup in 2009. Its home arena is the 2,500-seat Lietuvos Rytas Arena; all European matches and important domestic matches are played in the 11,000-seat Siemens Arena.
Olympic champions in swimming Lina Kačiušytė and Robertas Žulpa are from Vilnius. There are several public swimming pools in Vilnius with Lazdynai Swimming Pool being the only Olympic-size swimming pool of the city.
The city is home to the Lithuanian Bandy Association, Badminton Federation, Canoeing Sports Federation, Baseball Association, Biathlon Federation, Sailors Union, Football Federation, Fencing Federation, Cycling Sports Federation, Archery Federation, Athletics Federation, Ice Hockey Federation, Basketball Federation, Curling Federation, Rowing Federation, Wrestling Federation, Speed Skating Association, Gymnastics Federation, Equestrian Union, Modern Pentathlon Federation, Shooting Union, Triathlon Federation, Volleyball Federation, Tennis Union, Taekwondo Federation, Weightlifting Federation, Table Tennis Association, Skiing Association, Rugby Federation, Swimming Federation.
Navigability of the river Neris is very limited and no regular water routes exist, although it was used for navigation in the past. The river rises in Belarus, connecting Vilnius and Kernavė, and becomes a tributary of Nemunas river in Kaunas.
Vilnius Airport serves most Lithuanian international flights to many major European destinations. Currently, the airport has about 50 destinations in about 25 different countries. The airport is situated only 5 km (3.1 mi) away from the centre of the city, and has a direct rail link to Vilnius railway station.
Vilnius is the starting point of the A1 motorway that runs across Lithuania and connects the three major cities (Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda) and is a part of European route E85. The A2 motorway, connecting Vilnius with Panevėžys, is a part of E272. Other highways starting in Vilnius include A3, A4, A14, A15, A16. Vilnius' Southern bypass is road A19.
The bus network and the trolleybus network are run by Vilniaus viešasis transportas. There are over 60 bus, 18 trolleybus, 6 rapid bus and 6 night bus routes. The trolleybus network is one of the most extensive in Europe. Over 250 buses and 260 trolleybuses transport about 500,000 passengers every workday. The first regular bus routes were established in 1926, and the first trolleybuses were introduced in 1956.
At the end of 2007, a new electronic monthly ticket system was introduced. It was possible to buy an electronic card in shops and newspaper stands and have it credited with an appropriate amount of money. The monthly e-ticket cards could be bought once and credited with an appropriate amount of money in various ways including the Internet. Previous paper monthly tickets were in use until August 2008.
The ticket system changed again from 15 August 2012. E-Cards were replaced by Vilnius Citizen Cards ("Vilniečio Kortelė"). It is now possible to buy a card or change an old one in newspaper stands and have it credited with an appropriate amount of money or a particular type of ticket. Single trip tickets have been replaced by 30 and 60-minute tickets.
The public transportation system is dominated by the low-floor Volvo and Mercedes-Benz buses as well as Solaris trolleybuses. There are also plenty of the traditional Škoda vehicles, built in the Czech Republic, still in service, and many of these have been extensively refurbished internally. This is a result of major improvements that started in 2003 when the first brand-new Mercedes-Benz buses were bought. In 2004, a contract was signed with Volvo Buses to buy 90 brand-new 7700 buses over the following three years.
An electric tram and a metro system through the city were proposed in the 2000s. However, neither has progressed beyond initial planning.
In 2017, Vilnius started the historically largest upgrade of its buses by purchasing 250 new low-floor buses. The project will result in making 6 of 10 public buses being brand new by the middle of 2018 and will allow its passengers to use such modern technologies as free Wi-Fi and to charge their electronic devices while traveling. On 5 September 2017, 50 new Isuzu buses were presented and articulated Scania buses were promised in the very near future. Vilnius City Municipality also held a contest for 41 new trolleybuses and its winner Solaris committed to deliver all trolleybuses until the autumn of 2018, which will also have the free Wi-Fi and charging features. On November 13, Vilnius City Municipality signed a contract with Solaris for the remaining 150 Solaris Urbino buses of the newest IV generation (100 standard and 50 articulated), also with the free Wi-Fi and USB charging.
Before the Magdeburg rights were granted to Vilnius in 1378, the city was overseen by the ruler's vicegerents. Later these duties were granted to a magistrate or a City Council, subordinate only to the ruler himself. During wars, when the city was in a danger, the city was led by a Vilnius Voivod.
Vilnius Magistrate was responsible for the city economy, was collecting taxes, taking care of the city treasury, was accumulating stocks of grain in order to avoid residents starvation in case of famine or wars. He also acted as a notary in transactions, testaments and as a judge during the city residents conflicts that involved new buildings constructions and reconstructions. His another function was taking care of the city craftsmen. From the beginning, statutes of workshops were approved by the ruler himself. Later, Sigismund II Augustus granted this privilege to the city magistrates in 1552. Since the 1522 privilege by Sigismund I the Old, Vilnius Magistrates had the responsibility to protect the city and its residents tranquility by having 24 armed guards. During war times, the night watch was performed by three jurisdictions – magistrate, bishop and castle men.
Chief City Administrator was vaitas (a Grand Duke of Lithuania vicegerent in the city). Most of them were beginning their careers in the magistracy before obtaining such position. All vaitai were catholics. Vaitas was chairing during the City Council meetings. His competence also included criminal cases and he had the right to impose a death penalty. At first, he examined the cases alone, however since the 16th century two suolininkai also examined important cases (if the lawsuit was over 10 groschen) together with the vaitas. In the 16th century, Vilnius City Council consisted of 12 burgomasters and 24 councilors (half of them were Catholics, the other half were orthodoxes). There were no direct elections to the City Council and members to the council were chosen by the wealthy townspeople, merchants, workshops seniors. Burgomasters were being chosen till their deaths. In case of death, another member of the council was being chosen of the same religion. In 1536, Sigismund I the Old signed a privilege which regulated the magistrancy formation principles that prohibited to choose close relatives to the council and all the new taxes, obligations and regulations required prior agreement of the townspeople.
Under the Russian Empire control, the City Council was replaced with City Duma. After the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, Vilnius became a republican subordinate city. Current Vilnius city municipality was established only in 1995.
Vilnius City Municipality is one of 60 municipalities of Lithuania and includes the nearby town of Grigiškės, three villages, and some rural areas. The town of Grigiškės was separated from the Trakai District Municipality and attached to the Vilnius City Municipality in 2000.
A 51-member council is elected to four-year terms; the candidates are nominated by registered political parties. As of the 2011 elections, independent candidates also were permitted. The last election was held in March 2015. The results are:
Before 2015, mayors were appointed by the council. Starting with the elections in 2015, the mayors are elected directly by the residents. Remigijus Šimašius became the first directly elected mayor of the city.
Elderships, a statewide administrative division, function as municipal districts. The 21 elderships are based on neighbourhoods:
A 1909 official count of the city found 205,250 inhabitants, of whom 1.2 percent were Lithuanian; 20.7 percent Russian; 37.8 percent Polish; and 36.8 percent Jewish.
At the same time, Poland acceded to Lithuanian authority over Vilnius in the 1920 Suwałki Agreement.
In 1920, Poland annexed a third of Lithuania's territory (including the capital, Vilnius) in a breach of the Treaty of Suvalkai of 7 October 1920, and it was only in 1939 that Lithuania regained Vilnius and about a quarter of the territory previously occupied by Poland.
Fighting continued until the agreement at Suwałki between Lithuania and Poland on 7 October 1920, which drew a line of demarcation which was incomplete but indicated that the Vilnius area would be part of Lithuania
The League effected an armistice, signed at Suwałki, 7 October 1920, by the terms of which the city was to remain under Lithuanian jurisdiction.
The Lithuanians and the Poles signed an agreement at Suwałki on 7 October. Both sides were to cease hostilities and to peacefully settle all disputes. The demarcation line was extended only in the southern part of the front, to Bastunai. Vilnius was thus left on the Lithuanian side, but its security was not guaranteed.
Before long there was a change of authority: Polish legionnaires under the command of General Lucian Zeligowski 'did not agree' with the peace treaty signed with Lithuania in Suwałki, which ceded Vilna to Lithuania.
Mediation by the League Council led to an agreement on the 20th providing for a cease-fire and Lithuania's neutrality in the Polish–Russian War; Vilna remained part of Lithuania. The (abortive) Treaty of Suwałki, incorporating these terms, was signed on 7 October.
Clashes subsequently took place with Polish troops, leading to the armistice at Suwałki in October 1920 and the drawing of the famous Curzon Line under League mediation, which allotted Vilna to Lithuania.
Zeligowski seized the city in October, 1920, in flagrant violation not only of the Treaty of Suwałki signed by Poland and Lithuania two days earlier, but also of the covenant of the newly created League of Nations.
The 2017 Lithuanian Supercup (Lithuanian: LFF Supertaurė) was the 17th edition of the Lithuanian Supercup since its establishment in 1995, the annual Lithuanian football season-opening match contested by the winners of the previous season's top league and cup competitions (or league runner-up in case the league- and cup-winning club is the same). It took place on 26 February 2017 at the Sportima Arena in Vilnius, and was contested between Žalgiris, the 2016 A Lyga and 2016 Lithuanian Football Cup winners, and Trakai, the 2016 A Lyga runners-up.Žalgiris were the defending champions having won the cup for four previous years.
Žalgiris won the tie 1–0 with substitute Mahamane Traoré scoring the only goal of the match in 76th minute after a critical mistake by Trakai goalkeeper Ignas Plūkas.A Lyga
The A Lyga is the top division of professional football in Lithuania. It is organized by LFF (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Futbolo Federacija). League size has varied between 8 and 12 teams over the past few years; as of 2016 season, the league features 8 teams. The season usually kicks off in late February or early March and ends in November. Because of the harsh climate there are no games in the winter.FK Žalgiris
Futbolo klubas Žalgiris, commonly known as FK Žalgiris, Žalgiris Vilnius or simply Žalgiris is a Lithuanian professional football club based in Vilnius. The club competes in the A Lyga, the top flight of Lithuanian football. The club was founded as Dinamo in 1947. The club's name commemorates the victorious Battle of Žalgiris (Battle of Grunwald) (both names: Žalgiris and Grunwald are translated as "green grove"). Žalgiris has featured many Lithuanian football legends during their history, including Arminas Narbekovas, Valdas Ivanauskas, Edgaras Jankauskas and Deividas Šemberas. They have won the Lithuanian Championship 7 times, the Lithuanian Football Cup 11 times and the Lithuanian Supercup 6 times.
The team's colours are green and white. The club plays at LFF stadium in Vilnius which has a capacity of 5,067.History of Lithuania
The history of Lithuania dates back to settlements founded many thousands of years ago, but the first written record of the name for the country dates back to 1009 AD. Lithuanians, one of the Baltic peoples, later conquered neighboring lands and established the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th century (and also a short-lived Kingdom of Lithuania). The Grand Duchy was a successful and lasting warrior state. It remained fiercely independent and was one of the last areas of Europe to adopt Christianity (beginning in the 14th century). A formidable power, it became the largest state in Europe in the 15th century through the conquest of large groups of East Slavs who resided in Ruthenia. In 1385, the Grand Duchy formed a dynastic union with Poland through the Union of Krewo. Later, the Union of Lublin (1569) created the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that lasted until 1795, when the last of the Partitions of Poland erased both Lithuania and Poland from the political map. Afterward, the Lithuanians lived under the rule of the Russian Empire until the 20th century.
On February 16, 1918, Lithuania was re-established as a democratic state. It remained independent until the outset of World War II, when it was occupied by the Soviet Union under the terms of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Following a brief occupation by Nazi Germany after the Nazis waged war on the Soviet Union, Lithuania was again absorbed into the Soviet Union for nearly 50 years. In 1990–1991, Lithuania restored its sovereignty with the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania. Lithuania joined the NATO alliance in 2004 and the European Union as part of its enlargement in 2004.January Events (Lithuania)
The January Events (Lithuanian: Sausio įvykiai) took place in Lithuania between 11 and 13 January 1991 in the aftermath of the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania. As a result of Soviet military actions, 14 civilians were killed and 702 were injured. The events were centered in its capital, Vilnius, along with related actions in its suburbs and in the cities of Alytus, Šiauliai, Varėna, and Kaunas.List of cities in Lithuania
In Lithuania, there are 103 cities (in Lithuanian: singular – miestas, plural – miestai). The term city is defined by the Parliament of Lithuania as compact areas populated by more than 3,000 people of whom at least two thirds work in the industry or service sector. Those settlements which have a population of less than 3,000 but historically had city status are still considered to be cities. Smaller settlements are called miestelis (plural miesteliai) which is translated as towns. Even smaller settlements (villages) are called kaimas (plural kaimai). Often the official status is not clear and people refer to both towns and villages as gyvenvietė (plural gyvenvietės) which in essence means settlement.
The cities started to form in the 13th-14th century together with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The first to receive city rights was Klaipėda. According to medieval law, a city could have its own fairs, taverns, guilds, courts, etc. Some former cities lost their status and are now just towns or villages, for example Kernavė or Merkinė. Most of the cities in Lithuania were established before the 18th century. Their location is mostly determined by trade and transportation routes. Some of the newer cities grew because of railroad construction, for example Kaišiadorys, Vievis, Radviliškis, Ignalina or Mažeikiai. In the last century cities grew next to big industrial centers, for example Visaginas, Elektrėnai or Naujoji Akmenė. Five cities – Birštonas, Druskininkai, Neringa, Palanga and Anykščiai – have a special resort status.
Most of the cities are small. There are only 19 cities with a population of more than 20,000. Cities are quite evenly spread out through the territory of Lithuania. At the 2001 census 66.7% of the population lived in cities and the percentage is growing.List of football clubs in Lithuania
This is a list of football (soccer) clubs in Lithuania that played in A Lyga (the highest league), Lyga 1 (second-tier league), or Lyga 2 (third-tier) from 2003 to 2007. In 2007 a separate league for Reserve teams and feeder teams was created.List of tallest buildings in Lithuania
This is a list of tallest buildings in Lithuania. The rankings are based on the building's structural height (vertical elevation from the base to the highest architectural or integral structural element of the building). For this reason, buildings with spires are measured to the top of the spire, however, antennas on top of buildings are not counted to their overall height. Towers, such as the Vilnius TV Tower are not considered buildings as they are not continuously habitable, and will not be found on this list.List of towns in Lithuania
Towns in Lithuania (Lithuanian: miestelis) retain their historical distinctivness even though for statistical purposes they are counted together with villages. At the time of the census in 2001, there were 103 cities, 244 towns, and some 21,000 villages in Lithuania. Since then three cities (Juodupė, Kulautuva, and Tyruliai) and two villages (Salakas and Jūrė) became towns. Therefore, during the 2011 census, there were 249 towns in Lithuania.
According to Lithuanian law, a town is a compactly-built settlement with a population of 500–3,000 and at least half of the population works in economic sectors other than agriculture. However, there are many exceptions as many cities, towns, and villages retain their statuses based on historical tradition. Towns usually have a church and are capitals of elderates. Some towns have a coat of arms.Lithuania
Lithuania ( (listen); Lithuanian: Lietuva [lʲɪɛtʊˈvɐ]), officially the Republic of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublika), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. Since its independence, Lithuania is considered to be one of the Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast (a Russian exclave) to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.7 million people as of 2019, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Other major cities are Kaunas and Klaipėda. Lithuanians are Baltic people. The official language, Lithuanian, along with Latvian, is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family.
For centuries, the southeastern shores of the Baltic Sea were inhabited by various Baltic tribes. In the 1230s, the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, the King of Lithuania, and the first unified Lithuanian state, the Kingdom of Lithuania, was created on 6 July 1253. During the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the largest country in Europe; present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia were the territories of the Grand Duchy. With the Lublin Union of 1569, Lithuania and Poland formed a voluntary two-state personal union, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighbouring countries systematically dismantled it from 1772 to 1795, with the Russian Empire annexing most of Lithuania's territory.
As World War I neared its end, Lithuania's Act of Independence was signed on 16 February 1918, declaring the founding of the modern Republic of Lithuania. In the midst of the Second World War, Lithuania was first occupied by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany. As World War II neared its end and the Germans retreated, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania. On 11 March 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Baltic state to declare itself independent, resulting in the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania.
Lithuania is a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, eurozone, Schengen Agreement, NATO and OECD. It is also a member of the Nordic Investment Bank, and part of Nordic-Baltic cooperation of Northern European countries. The United Nations Human Development Index lists Lithuania as a "very high human development" country.Lithuanian Football Cup
The Lithuanian Football Federation Cup (Lithuanian: Lietuvos futbolo federacijos taurė), also known as SHARP LFF Cup for sponsorship reasons, is the main "knockout" cup competition in Lithuanian football. It began in 1947 as a tournament for teams in the Lithuanian SSR not competing in the Soviet league pyramid. The competition is a knockout (single elimination) tournament.Lithuanian Football Federation
The Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF) (Lithuanian: Lietuvos futbolo federacija) is the governing body of football in Lithuania. The Federation is responsible for football development in the country and for the national teams, including the Lithuania national football team. It is based in Vilnius. LFF became a member of FIFA in 1923, but following Lithuania's annexation by the Soviet Union it was disbanded. It became a member again in 1992 after Lithuania regained its independence. The top division is A Lyga.Polish–Lithuanian War
The Polish–Lithuanian War was an armed conflict between newly independent Lithuania and Poland in the aftermath of World War I. The conflict primarily concerned territorial control of the Vilnius Region, including Vilnius, and the Suwałki Region, including the towns of Suwałki, Augustów, and Sejny. The conflict was largely shaped by the progress in the Polish–Soviet War and international efforts to mediate at the Conference of Ambassadors and later the League of Nations. There are major differences in Polish and Lithuanian historiography regarding treatment of the war. According to Lithuanian historians, the war was part of the Lithuanian Wars of Independence and spanned from spring 1919 to November 1920. According to Poland, the war included only fighting over the Suwałki Region in September–October 1920 and was part of the Polish–Soviet War.
In April 1919, Poland captured Vilnius and came in contact with the Lithuanian Army fighting in the Lithuanian–Soviet War. Faced with a common enemy, the Polish–Lithuanian relations were not immediately hostile. Poland hoped to persuade Lithuania to join some kind of Polish–Lithuanian union (see the Międzymorze federation), which Lithuania saw as loss of independence to Polish federalism. As bilateral relations worsened, the Entente drew two demarcation lines in hopes to stall further open hostilities. The lines did not please anyone and were ignored. When a Polish coup against the Lithuanian government failed in August 1919, the front stabilized until summer 1920.
In July 1920, Poland was losing the Polish–Soviet War and was in full retreat. The Lithuanians followed retreating Polish troops to secure the territory, assigned to Lithuania by the Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty. The Soviets were the first to enter Vilnius. When Poland achieved a major victory in the Battle of Warsaw and forced the Soviets to retreat in August 1920, Lithuanians defended their new borders. Poland did not recognize the Peace Treaty and claimed that Lithuania had become a Soviet ally. Fighting broke out in the Suwałki Region. During the Battle of the Niemen River, Poland attacked Lithuania on a wide front. The battle drastically altered the military situation and left Vilnius open to an attack. Under pressure from the League of Nations, Poland signed the Suwałki Agreement on October 7, 1920. The agreement drew a new demarcation line, which was incomplete and did not provide protection to Vilnius.
On October 8, 1920, Polish general Lucjan Żeligowski staged a mutiny among Polish troops and marched on Vilnius to "defend the right of self-determination of local Poles." The mutiny was planned and authorized by Polish chief of state Józef Piłsudski. Żeligowski's forces captured Vilnius, but further advances were stopped by the Lithuanian troops. Żeligowski proclaimed creation of the Republic of Central Lithuania with capital in Vilnius. On November 29, a ceasefire was signed. The prolonged mediation by the League of Nations did not change the situation and status quo was accepted in 1923. The Republic of Central Lithuania was incorporated into Poland as the Wilno Voivodeship in 1922. Lithuania did not recognize these developments and continued to claim Vilnius as its constitutional capital. There were no diplomatic relations between Poland and Lithuania until the Polish ultimatum of 1938.Vilna Gaon
Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, (Hebrew: ר' אליהו בן שלמה זלמן Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman) known as the Vilna Gaon (Yiddish: דער װילנער גאון, Polish: Gaon z Wilna, Lithuanian: Vilniaus Gaonas) or Elijah of Vilna, or by his Hebrew acronym HaGra ("HaGaon Rabbenu Eliyahu") or Elijah Ben Solomon (Sialiec, April 23, 1720 – Vilnius October 9, 1797), was a Talmudist, halakhist, kabbalist, and the foremost leader of misnagdic (non-hasidic) Jewry of the past few centuries. He is commonly referred to in Hebrew as ha-Gaon he-Chasid mi-Vilna, "the pious genius from Vilnius".Through his annotations and emendations of Talmudic and other texts he became one of the most familiar and influential names in rabbinic study since the Middle Ages, counted by many among the sages known as the Acharonim, and ranked by some with the even more revered Rishonim of the Middle Ages. Large groups of people, including many yeshivas, uphold the set of Jewish customs and rites (minhag), the "minhag ha-Gra", which is named for him, and which is also considered by many to be the prevailing Ashkenazi minhag in Jerusalem.
Born in Sielec in the Brest Litovsk Voivodeship (today Sialiec, Belarus), the Gaon displayed extraordinary talent while still a child. By the time he was twenty years old, rabbis were submitting their most difficult halakhic problems to him for legal rulings. He was a prolific author, writing such works as glosses on the Babylonian Talmud and Shulchan Aruch known as Bi'urei ha-Gra ("Elaborations by the Gra"), a running commentary on the Mishnah, Shenoth Eliyahu ("The Years of Elijah"), and insights on the Pentateuch entitled Adereth Eliyahu ("The Splendor of Elijah"), published by his son. Various Kabbalistic works have commentaries in his name, and he wrote commentaries on the Proverbs and other books of the Tanakh later on in his life. None of his manuscripts were published in his lifetime.
When Hasidic Judaism became influential in his native town, the Vilna Gaon joined the "opposers" or Misnagdim, rabbis and heads of the Polish communities, to curb Hasidic influence. In 1777, one of the first excommunications against the nascent Hasidic movement was launched in Vilna.
He encouraged his students to study natural sciences, and even translated geometry books to Yiddish and Hebrew.Vilna Ghetto
The Vilna Ghetto was a World War II Jewish ghetto established and operated by Nazi Germany in the city of Vilnius in the territory of Nazi-administered Reichskommissariat Ostland. During the approximately two years of its existence, starvation, disease, street executions, maltreatment, and deportations to concentrations and extermination camps reduced the ghetto's population from an estimated 40,000 to zero. Only several hundred people managed to survive, mostly by hiding in the forests surrounding the city, joining Soviet partisans, or sheltering with sympathetic locals.Vilna Governorate
The Vilna Governorate (1795–1915; also known as Lithuania-Vilnius Governorate from 1801 until 1840; Russian: Виленская губерния, Vilenskaya guberniya, Lithuanian: Vilniaus gubernija, Polish: gubernia wileńska) or Government of Vilnius was a governorate (guberniya) of the Russian Empire created after the Third Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795. It was part of the Lithuanian General Governorate, which was called the Vilnius General Governorate after 1830, and was attached to the Northwestern Krai. The seat was in Vilnius (Vilna in Russian), where the Governors General resided.Vilnius Airport
Vilnius Airport (IATA: VNO, ICAO: EYVI) (Lithuanian: Vilniaus oro uostas) is the international airport of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. It is located 5.9 km (3.7 mi) south of the city. It is the largest of the four commercial airports in Lithuania by passenger traffic. With one runway and about 4.9 million passengers a year, Vilnius International Airport serves as a base for airBaltic, Ryanair, Wizz Air. The airport is managed by a state owned enterprise Lithuanian Airports under the Ministry of Transport and Communications.Vilnius District Municipality
Vilnius District Municipality (Lithuanian: Vilniaus rajono savivaldybė) is one of 60 municipalities in Lithuania. It surrounds the capital city of Vilnius on 3 sides, while the rest borders the Trakai District Municipality.
At the 2011 Census, Poles amounted to 52.07% out of 95,348 inhabitants. 32.47% were Lithuanians, 8.01% Russians, 4.17% Belarusians, 0.65% Ukrainians and 0.11% Jews.Vilnius University
Vilnius University (Lithuanian: Vilniaus universitetas; former names exist) is the oldest university in the Baltic states and one of the oldest in Northern Europe. It is the largest university in Lithuania.
The university was founded in 1579 as the Jesuit Academy (College) of Vilnius by Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland, Stephen Báthory. It was the third oldest university (after the Cracow Academy and the Albertina) in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In the aftermath of the Third Partition of Poland (1795) and the November Uprising (1830–1831), the university was closed down and suspended its operation until 1919. In the aftermath of World War I the university saw failed attempts to restart it by Lithuania (December 1918) and invading Soviet forces (March 1919). It finally resumed operations as Stefan Batory University in Poland (August 1919), a period followed by another Soviet occupation in 1920, and the less than two-years of the Republic of Central Lithuania, incorporated into Poland in 1922.
Following Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, the university was briefly administered by the Lithuanian authorities (from October 1939), and then after Soviet annexation of Lithuania (June 1940), punctuated by a period of German occupation after German invasion of the Soviet Union (1941–1944), administrated as Vilnius State University by the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1945 the Polish community of students and scholars of Stefan Batory University was transferred to Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. After Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it resumed its status as one of the prominent universities in Lithuania.
The wide-ranging Vilnius University ensemble represents all major architectural styles that predominated in Lithuania: Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism.