Vilnius[222] is the capital and largest city of Lithuania. It lies in the valley of the confluence of Neris and Vilnia rivers and has 527,930 inhabitants (2013 statistics). Along with Linz, Austria, Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture in 2009.The word Vilnius is a masculine form of the Vilnia river’s name (which is feminine) and refers to the river surge. Therefore, the spelling in other languages (Vilna, Wilna, Vilno, Wilno) are the same word adapted to the corresponding grammar. The area has been inhabited since the Mesolithic era, but it only became a capital city in 1323 when Grand Duke Gediminas transferred the Seat from Trakai to Vilnius. A monument to Gediminas (author of the concept is a Lithuanian-American sculptor Vytautas Kauba) stands in Cathedral Square near the site of the former pagan temple. The Grand Duke is depicted at the monument when he made a final decision, dismounted from his horse and blessed the land which essentially became the capital. It’s known that its glory would echo like an iron-wolf-like sound throughout the world. The howling Iron Wolf from the Grand Duke’s prophetic dream is depicted below. You can find these two key names, Gediminas and the Iron Wolf (Geleinis vilkas), along with the motif of the howling iron wolf quite often everywhere in Vilnius. They are branched into the forms of daily life so they are often overlooked, unless you’re purposely looking for them.Vilnius has always been a multi-national city populated with Lithuanians, Poles, Germans and Slavs from the immemorial time, later on with Jews as well. Although the original city location was lost due to erosion, the present day Old Town reappeared in the Middle Ages. These inhabitants were forced to settle down there since the heights of a Vilnia river bank made it impossible to live elsewhere. The colonies of German and Ruthenian merchants and missionaries existed prior to that and evolved into German Town and Ruthenian Town. Then afterwards, the towns turned into suburbs and finally fully integrated into the city. Now, they can be identified by a cute Lutheran Kirche hidden in numerous courtyards of the Old Town or a complex of the Orthodox Monastery and Church of the Holy Spirit. Since 1652, Vilnius formally became one of the principal cities for Lithuanian Jews and became a symbolic capital of Jewish culture in 1661. The Jews of Vilnius in the 19th century were constantly increasing the economical factor, which remained so until 22 Jun 1941. According to the data of Jewish Community of Lithuania, 70,000 out of the 100,000 victims murdered by the Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators at the forest of Paneriai were Jews from Vilnius (mostly polish jews) and surrounding regions.After the decisions made at the Yalta Conference after the war, the Soviets expelled most of the urban Polish population to Poland and the newcomers (mostly workers and military) arrived from Russian SFSR. During extensive urbanization through 1950-1970, more people from other parts of Lithuania, neighboring parts of Belarus, as well as Russia, Ukraine and other Soviet republics arrived and became an integral part of the city population. According to the census of 2012, Vilnius’ population includes 63.2% Lithuanians, 16.5% Poles, 12% Russians, 3.5% Belarusians and 4.8% others. For comparison to 2001: 57.8% Lithuanians, 18.7% Poles, 14% Russians, 4.0% Belarusians, 1.3% Ukrainians, 0.5% Jews and 5.5% others.Vilnius Tourist Information Centre (Vilniaus turizmo informacijos centras), (has 2 offices in the city and one office at the air port – in a lobby of the arrival terminal near the main exit. Two other offices are located in relevant spots of the Old Town: within premises of Town Hall (Didioji St 31) and near the centre between Hotel Novotel and the Museum Of Radziwi Palace (Vilnius St 22).), At the air port +370 5 230-6841

Airport: VNO Vilnius International Airport Cities in Lithuania

Country: Lithuania