Discover cobblestone charm, ornate churches and Soviet relics in the largest of the Baltic states
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was once the largest country in Europe, and still today it’s the largest of the three Baltic States. Unlike its northern neighbours, Lithuania has a far more Germanic feel. Its capital, Vilnius, is dotted with cobbled streets, 18th century town houses and Baroque churches, and is home to one of the largest old towns in Europe, with the Gedimas Square at the heart of it. The city has a laid back, almost village feel to it with most office blocks in new suburbs, leaving a city centre of cafes, boutiques and cosy historic guest houses.
The country’s most well-known attraction outside Vilnius is the Hill of Crosses, close to the town of Šiauliai. The precise origins of which remain a mystery, but it is believed that the first crosses were placed on the former Jurgaičiai or Domantai hill fort after the 1831 Uprising. Today over 100,00 crosses have been placed on the tiny hill, and the site has become a symbol of defiance as much as a place of pilgrimage, peaking in the 1960’s in protest of anti-religious Soviet rule.