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The City

The capital of the Republic of Lithuania is VILNIUS. Naturally, it is the largest city in the country: according to the data of 2001 the population of Vilnius is 600,000. Of them 52.8 % are Lithuanians, 19.2 % Poles, 19.2 % Russians, 4.8 % Byelorussians, 0.7 % Jews and the remaining 3.3 % comprising some other nationalities.
Current area of Vilnius is 392 square kilometres. Buildings cover 20.2 % of the city and the remaining area is prevailed with the greenery (43.9 %) and waters (2.1 %).
The Old Town, historical centre of Vilnius, is one of the largest in Eastern Europe (360 ha). The most valuable historic and cultural heritage is concentrated here. The buildings in the old town – there are about 1.5 thousand of them – were built in a number of different centuries, therefore, it is a mixture of all European architectural styles. Although Vilnius is often called a baroque city, here you will find some buildings of gothic, renaissance and other styles. The main sights of the city are the Gediminas Castle and the Cathedral Square, symbols of the capital. Their combination is also a gateway to the historic centre of the capital. Because of its uniqueness, the Old Town of Vilnius was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.
Vilnius is also the largest administrative centre in Lithuania with all major political, economic, social and cultural centres. The County of Vilnius covers the regions of Vilnius, Šalčininkai, Širvintos, Švenčionys, Trakai, and Ukmergė totalling to 965,000 ha.

History of Vilnius

The capital was first mentioned in the written sources of the 12 th century. And in 1323 Vilnius was named the city. Throughout a couple of centuries it became a constantly growing and developing city because in 1579 the university was established here. It was the first university of this type in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania but it soon developed into an important scientific and cultural centre of Europe. Of course, political, economic and social life was also in full swing here. This is proved by the statutes issued in the 16 th century. By the way, the last of them was in force until the 19 th century.
Rapidly developing Vilnius was open for foreigners coming both from the east and the west. Because of that, strong communities of Poles, Russians, Jews, Germans, Karaimes, etc. began to form here. Each of them made their contribution to the formation of the city: at that time crafts, trade and science were prospering in Vilnius. The city was developing rapidly and at the beginning of the 19 th century it was the third largest town in the region of Eastern Europe. Only Moscow and St. Petersburg were larger.

Legend about Vilnius

The establishment of the...