Wednesday, 4 September 2013

VILNIUS CASTLES AND DUNGEONS



We hired two supremely comfortable bikes and headed out to explore the old city, peddling towards the cathedral along Gedimino Street. Gedimino Street is Regent Street, Pall Mall and the Mall rolled into one without the traffic.



Bright sunshine during the day and a biblical storm on Saturday evening bringing the trees down across the cycle paths we explored along the river the next day.

Saturday must have been national wedding day. Outside or close to every church entrance a wedding party was waiting or being photographed. Each group was extremely colourful with the bride and her entourage all in exactly the same colour; our favourites include purple, scarlet, royal blue and yellow.

This is an excellent city for salami and kabanos and local beer.

Vilnius is a city of counter point: The Museum of Genocide Victims gives you a chilling picture of how people in the country suffered under the hands of the Nazi’s and latterly from the Soviets from 1944 through to 1991.
 The building was the headquarters of both regimes. We walked along the basement corridors looking in on the cells. Then, up another set up steps and along a passage to the execution chamber. Over 1000 people were killed in this building.


The churches of Vilnius are blessed antidote to the feeling of sadness one has after this macabre museum. The Church of St Peter and St Paul is a baroque marvel. All white stucco throughout is nave and chancel and the side chapels.
There are over 2000 religious depictions, literally plastered everywhere.

The Gate of Dawn is a city-gate of Vilnius, part of the city's fortifications in the fourteenth century. It houses a small chapel where Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn draws visitors and local people to pay respects and make their supplications.

This is a relatively compact city. Getting round on a bicycle is a delight and if you check the guidebook and find you have missed something at a point previously visited its easy just to peddle back there.  Figuratively we might peddle back to Vilnius again one day.