Vilnius Old Town
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Location||Vilnius, Vilnius County, Lithuania|
|Criteria||Cultural: (ii), (iv)|
|Inscription||1994 (18th Session)|
|Area||352.09 ha (870.0 acres)|
|Buffer zone||1,912.24 ha (4,725.2 acres)|
The Old Town of Vilnius (Lithuanian: Vilniaus senamiestis, Polish: Stare Miasto w Wilnie, Belarusian: Стары горад у Вільнюсе, Russian: Старый город в Вильнюсe), one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in both Northern and Central Europe, has an area of 3.59 square kilometres (887 acres). It encompasses 74 quarters, with 70 streets and lanes numbering 1487 buildings with a total floor area of 1,497,000 square meters.
According to the archaeological research, the first traces of a city are found in Vilnius during the reign of Traidenis and Vytenis rule. There is some scientific debate whether Vilnius was already a city at the times of king of Lithuania Mindaugas. It was first mentioned in the written sources in the letters of Gediminas. The Magdeburg rights were granted by the Lithuanian Grand Duke and King of Poland Jogaila in 1387.
It is the oldest part of the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, it had been developed over the course of many centuries, and has been shaped by the city's history and a constantly changing cultural influence. It is a place where some of Europe's greatest architectural styles—gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical—stand side by side and complement each other. There are many Catholic, Lutheran and Orthodox churches, residential houses, cultural and architectural monuments, museums in the Old Town.
Pilies Street is the Old Town's main artery and the hub of cafe and street market life. The main street of Vilnius, Gediminas Avenue, is partially located in the Old Town. The central squares in the Old Town are the Cathedral Square and the Town Hall Square.
One of the most elaborate architectural complexes is the Vilnius University Architectural Ensemble, which occupies a large part of the Old Town and has 13 courtyards. It was selected to represent Lithuania in the Mini-Europe Park in Brussels.
In 1994 the Vilnius Old Town was included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (No. 541) in recognition of its universal value and originality. It has been recognised as one of the most beautiful cities of the Old Continent that also has the largest baroque Old Town in the whole of Eastern and Central Europe. The definition of "historic center" itself has a broader meaning than the Old Town, formerly encircled with defensive walls. It embraces the valuable historical suburbs of Vilnius, such as Užupis, which historically used to be outside the city boundaries. Therefore Užupis is often considered a part of the Old Town of Vilnius.
352 ha Vilnius Old Town (Senamiestis) as the UNESCO World Heritage Site should not be confused with one of 21 elderships (boroughs) of Vilnius – Senamiestis (the one with a slightly larger territory – 440 ha).
There are more monuments of interest in the Old Town than in any other part of Vilnius; they include:
- Presidential Palace
- Slushko Palace
- Radziwiłł Palace
- Tyzenhaus Palace
- Vilnius Castle Complex with the Gediminas Tower and Royal Palace
- St. Anne's Church
- Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard
- St. Michael the Archangel Church
- Church of St. Johns
- Church of St. Casimir
- Vilnius Cathedral in Cathedral Square
- St. Nicholas Church
- All Saints Church
- Church of St. Theresa
- Gate of Dawn
- Three Crosses
- Church of St. Catherine
- Church of St. Philip and St. Jacob
- Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit
- Monastery of the Holy Trinity
- Cathedral of the Theotokos
- St. Nicholas Church
- St. Paraskeva Church
Other places of interest
- House of the Signatories
- National Museum of Lithuania
- Lithuanian National Drama Theatre
- Fragments of the Vilnius city wall
- Vilnius dungeons
- Vilnius University
- "Vilniaus miesto seniūnijų ribos". hub.arcgis.com (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 2021-12-16.