Perched upon a hill, near the centre of Old Town, Vilnius you will find a magnificent building – reminding you of something out of an old Disney movie (I’m thinking the Sword in the Stone). According to the legend, Gediminas was a Grand Duke in Lithuania ages and ages ago, and the night after an exhausting hunt he had a dream about one of the hills where he had shot a taurus.
He asked a mage what the dream meant, and was told that he had to build a city centering around that hill. The dream was an omen about the future capital of Lithuania, and so Gediminas got to building a castle on the hill, and a city slowly started growing around it. The city was named Vilnius after a nearby river (Vilnia) and became the capital of Lithuania, just as the mage had predicted. It’s funny when you’re a Grand Duke and can decide where the capital is, right?
Story time is over and so is the time of Grand Duke Gediminas. There isn’t much left of the castle on the hill today, but the main tower still stands tall. It is today known as Gediminas’ Tower, and boasts amazing panoramic views of the entire city of Vilnius. On one side you’ll see the charming Old Town, with its picturesque houses and uneven streets. Make a 180 degree turn and you’ll see the up and coming commercial centre of the city, with skyscrapers on their way up, shopping malls and lots of traffic. Vilnius truly is an adverse city!
The views alone is reason enough to visit the tower, and they just get better as you climb the three floors to the top. Gediminas’ Tower itself has been made into a museum (€2 entry fee – the view is well worth it) with depictions of the castle that once stood on the hill throughout the years. Make sure you bring your camera.
Top tip: Visit during sunset! There were barely any other people when we were there, and the lighting made everything look extra dramatic. It was also nice to catch the last rays of heat before the sun went down, it’s windy at the top!
Getting to the top is not as hard or dramatic as it seems. You can walk along the path that snakes around the hill, or you can pay €1.50 to catch a ride in the funicular/tram like box that will bring you straight up the hillside. The walk was really nice, as it takes you along the back of the hill, letting you see the tower from all angles on your way up.
Top tip #2: No one will shout at you for sitting on the castle walls! Since the hill isn’t a straight drop you won’t actually die from falling off (all though I’m sure it would hurt a lot), but the photos still look dramatic. Prepare to take a few before you get the right one though, we struggled for a while.
(Yes, that is a Slytherin sweater I am wearing. If you judge you can go away, Hufflepuff)
All in all, Gediminas’ Tower is definitely a must see when visiting Vilnius. It isn’t in the Top 10 on TripAdvisor for no reason!
Have you been to Vilnius? Or can you think of any similar places around the world?
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