Vilnius – a holiday in a quirky city
Inside the Gate of Dawn it’s dark. A long line of worshippers is waiting to pray in front of the ancient icon of the Virgin Mary. The most devout enter on their knees. The icon is believed to have miraculous powers. The atmosphere is mystic.
The Gate of Dawn is the only part of the old city wall of Vilnius that has been preserved. A long, meandering street begins from the gate, leading through the Vilnius old town. Here, the Middle Ages meet the splendour of the Baroque.
What makes a city break in Vilnius unique is that it is so different from the other Baltic capitals: it is sombre and mystical and yet playfully bohemian at the same time. The quirky side of Vilnius comes to life in the Užupis neighbourhood, where the streets are lined with galleries and artisan workshops. Užupis declared itself in 1997 as a separate micro-state, with its national day on April 1st. This hilly area centres around a small square with a statue of an angle blowing a horn. The angel is a symbol of artistic freedom.
As yet, Vilnius is not as popular with tourists as Tallinn or Riga, which helps the city maintain its magic. Vilnius is also very easy on a traveller’s budget.