As we travel to Lithuania let us review a few of the most important facts about the largest of the three Baltic Countries. It borders Latvia to the north, Poland to the south and Belarus to the east and south.
Trakai Castle on an island
on Lake Galve in Lithuania
Lithuania is a full member of the European Union
Its population is about 3 million and its capital and largest city is Vilnius, a city with a vast history of many centuries.
It was declared an independent country in 1918 at the end of World War I. During WWII it was invaded first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany.
When Germany retreated it fell again in the hands of the Soviets that kept it as one of their Republic until 1990 when it was declared Independent again.
Lithuania is today a full member of the European Union.
Hill of Crosses and important Pilgrimage Site in Lithuania
Like Lourdes in France or Jerusalem in Israel this is an important Pilgrimage destination.
It is an awe-inspiring site. The two hills are covered with crosses of all types and sizes. Some are devotionals to accompany prayers, others are memorials to specific departed.
It is said that the tradition of planting crosses dates to the 14th century. During the Soviet era the crosses were leveled up by bulldozers several times, only to be planted there again. Regardless your religion it is a site worth visiting.
It is unofficially called “Stalin World, this is sculpture garden of Soviet Era statues and other allegoric Soviet relics. The park is located near Druskininkai, about 130 kilometres southwest of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.
Created in 2001 by entrepreneur Malinauskas is until today a site full of discord due to the horrible memories of Lithuanians from ether Soviet Era.
Located in Šiauliai, this airfield was the Soviet Union’s largest military base outside of Russia. Since 2004 it is being used by NATO forces to patrol the Baltic skies.
There are guided tours that will take around the field, the hangars and the commanding spot.
Curonian Spit National Park a paradise for bird-watchers in
Travel to Lithuania
This space of land in west Lithuania features some of the world’s most exceptional sand dunes with many animals such as elk, deer and much avian wildlife. It was designated as a UNECO World Heritage Site.
On the visit center you may get information about walking, cycling, boating and lazing activities. It is a paradise for bird watchers that come here from all over Europe.
The “claim to fame” of this lovely theater is the Hitler proclaimed the Anschulss or incorporation of the area into Germany to the multitude on the square from this therater’s balcony.
There is a fountain on front of the theater dedicated to German born poet Simon Dach and a statue of Ann from Tharau in the middle of the fountain.
Similar to the ill fated Chernobyl nuclear reactor, this remaining reactor from Soviet times meets about 80% of Lithuania’s energy needs.
The intricate maze formed by the Nemunas Delta in Lithuania
This wetland is a heaven for bird watchers. About 300 species found in Lithuania frequent this area, including black storks, white tailed eagles, black tailed godwits, pintails, dunlin, ruff and great snipe.
This is a stop for the Arctic to East Africa bird migration and they make here a breeding point in one of the many islands of this park where one fifth of the park is water.
Rusnė Island, the largest island, covers 48 sq km. The main form of transport is by boat during summers, since the harsh winters of the Baltic freezes all waters surrounding the islands.
Located in the Nemunas delta the scarcely populated area is famous for its Ornithological Station, 66km south of Klaipėda at the end of the Kintai Ventė road.
It all started back in 1929, but it wasn’t until 1959 when large bird traps were installed on the premises. Today one million birds pass through the area on their migrating trips to and from Africa to the Arctic.
Vilnius Cathedral in the Capital of Lithuania
Travel to Lithuania
This Vilnius landmark is located on Cathedral’s Quare. This cathedral is 57 meters tall. The square itself is a popular spot and especially crowded during Sunday morning mass. Visitors amuse themselves hunting for the sacred “Stebuklas” or miracle in English. Legend says that if you stand at that point and turn clockwise, you will be granted a wish.
This spot is where the Tallinn to Vilnius human chain ended in 1989.
Trakai was Lithuania’s capital and its important sight is the castle perched atop an island on Lake Galve. The Gothic castle dates back to the 15th century.
It is home to the Trakai History Museum charting the history of the castle.
For more information visit the Lituanian Tourist Office
The beautiful building and its interiors of Pažaislis Monastery in Lithuania
Travel to Lithuania
This exceptionally beautiful monastery built with pink and black marble, dating to the 17th century is located 9 km east of the Capital of Lithuania.
It has passed from Catholic to Orthodox and back to Catholic during the centuries. Its history tells us that it was an ill-fated psychiatric hospital during the Soviet era. Today it is inhabited by nuns
Best time to visit is from June to August when the Pažaislis Music Festival takes place.
This shocking museum is in remembrance of the thousands of people gassed or killed by a shot in the head in December 1943 by the Nazis. After the bodies fell, they covered them with sand, awaiting the next group. The corpses were later incinerated by the same Nazis in order to hide their horrible act.
When we travel to Lithuania, we have to remember it is a country with a long history and many conquerors. This history is sometimes very cruel.
credits for images for travel to lithuania:
hill of crosses by mzopw
curonian spit by wojsil
neuma delta n/a
cahedral by juliux
pazaislis monastery by lulius
trakai castle n/a
all courtesy of wikimedia commons