One of the Baltic states, Lithuania belongs to a region often overlooked by tourism, which is both unfair and also good for those seeking out a rewarding trip without dealing with major crowds. With an extensive history stretching back millennia, there is much to see and do, with museums and historical sites reflecting its rich history and contemporary culture
Trakai Island Castle
Dating back to the 14th Century, this was a major hub of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, its isolated location ensuring its strategic importance. Known for its distinct red stone design, it is the most significant relic of Lithuania’s Medieval history as well as the country’s major national symbol. Having fallen into neglect and disrepair for centuries, it has undergone repeated reconstruction efforts since the 19th century, most significantly following the Second World War. Now a major tourist attraction, it has resumed its cultural importance within Lithuania.
Hill of Crosses
A major Christian pilgrimage site, the Hill of Crosses draws 100,000 annual visitors. Located in the northern region of the country, the Hill of Crosses’ origins are uncertain but over several generations the site has accumulated thousands of crosses, crucifixes and statues of the Virgin Mary, all left behind by Christian visitors. The site was notably associated with peaceful resistance against the Soviet Union and pilgrims continued to travel to the site despite a constitutional ban of religion.
Literally translated to ‘the park of Europe’, this open-air museum is located on the continent’s geographical centre. Mainly featuring works of sculpture, the Europos Parkas contains a wealth of artwork from Lithuanian and international artists and is well-known for the sheer diversity of styles it exhibits. A short drive from the country’s capital of Vilnius, Europos Parkas is one of the world’s most unique sculpture gardens.
Vilnil Museum of Illusions
One of the more bizarre museums you are likely to visit, the Vilnil Museum of Illusions is a singularly strange place located in the nation’s capital. Featuring a wealth of optical illusions and VR installations, the museum is a largely interactive experience with a hands-on staff ready to answer questions about the contents. A refreshing rebuttal to some of the stuffier traditional museums.
Monument to the Victims of Fascism
Located in Kaunas, once the beating heart of Lithuania’s Jewish population, this monument is a potent tribute to those lost during the atrocities of the Holocaust. Following the escalation of the Second World War, Kaunas was occupied. by Nazi forces and its Jewish population were oppressed and murdered as a ghetto was set up. The monument, designed by Algonosas Ambraziunas, opened in 1991 and pays a tribute to the Jewish population’s tragic past.
main image: image by patrick janicek, Flickr Creative Commons