Hotspot Vilnius, Lithuania

August 30, 2009|By Kayla Cross | Kayla Cross,The Baltimore Sun

As visitors take to the cobblestone paths of this town, they are walking along the steps of history. When Vilnius was being built there was an entry fee of one stone per visitor. The collection was used to create the town's walls and roads. Today, entry to the town and many of its historic sites is free. This year Lithuania celebrates its millennium anniversary, and Vilnius styles itself as the European Capital of the World, with its vision to create a city that is open to new ideas and culture. Visitors can walk through an outdoor museum, view the town from 1,000 feet in the air and more.


Trek to Trakai: About 17 miles from Vilnius is Trakai, dating to the 13th century and the home of three castles and a history of military endeavors. Some of the fortresses have disintegrated through the years, but the historic Island castle - the only island castle in Europe - has been renovated and remains a popular tourist attraction.


Stroll through Pilies Street: The historic part of Vilnius is known as "Old Town" and Pilies Street weaves its cobbled and crooked way right through it. Many of the festivals and celebrations that take place in Vilnius include a procession down Pilies Street, and even when there aren't any activities the area is known for its souvenir and craft shops. The street is between Cathedral Square and Town Hall Square.


Experience a living museum: About 20 minutes from the center of Vilnius is Europos Parkas, featuring contemporary art in an outdoor environment. Founded in 1991, the museum combines the ever-changing outdoor environment with the stability of the sculptures and pieces to create a unique experience. Among the many exhibits is the LNK Infotree. The LNK Infotree features more than 3,000 television sets in a tree-shaped maze throughout the park.


Delve into amber: Vilnius is home to many museums, including the Amber Museum-Gallery, which has a wide collection of amber pieces, jewelry and artists' amber-inspired works. Baltic amber, fossilized resin from pine trees, is featured at the museum, along with other colors such as blue and green.


Dine in the sky: The Milky Way Cafe is situated 541 feet in the air inside the Television Tower of Vilnius. Diners can take a seat next to the windows and enjoy a panoramic view of the city, rivers and valleys of Vilnius. The tower is more than 1,000 feet tall and slowly turns, once every 45 minutes. It's known as the tallest artificial Christmas tree in the world and is a favorite for bungee jumping.

- Kayla Cross, The Baltimore Sun

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