Vilnius Local Custom Tips by matcrazy1 Top 5 Page for this destination
Vilnius Local Customs: 139 reviews and 167 photos
DOME OF ST. CASIMIR CHAPEL
Hmm... the Vilnius cathedral was oriented front to the West and back to the East. Did it mean something? No doubts, it was very wrong orientation during Soviet occupation...
The Vilnius Cathedral had two identical, impressive domes put in its both back (eastern) corners. They covered the St. Casimir Chapel - real highlight of the cathedral I liked a lot - on southeastern corner and the sacristy (closed to the public) on its northesatern corner.
They were designed by the best Vilnius architecturer Gucewicz at the turn of 18th and 19th century. It remained me a little the Sigismund Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland
From Katja (pedersdottir) from Evanston, Illinois, USA:
Cathedrals and all older churches since earliest years of Chiristendom were oriented so that the altar was placed in the East (towards the rising sun i.e. Son Of God) - and the main or front doors would then face west. (Setting of the sun - direction one is carried out after a funeral, etc.)
Thank you, Katja :-))
Phone: 261 11 27
POLISH BEGGAR AND STORY-TELLER
If you know Polish language (hmm... who knows exept Poles ?) you can hear a lot of interesting, fascinating stories from some beggars and quite many locals of Polish roots living in Vilnius.
As I know from mass media Polish population of Vilnius (54% in 1917 and 18.7% in 2001) is the least educated and the poorest. The best educated Poles were either murdered or deported to deep Russia by Soviets during or after WWII. Well, some of them managed to leave Socialist Soviet Republic of Lithuania and move to communist Poland.
This older Polish guy on my picture told me story of his family. Hmm... sad story of lack of freedom, Soviet crimes, deportations and so on... I should record it. After a few minutes of talk a woman (from the cathedral staff, I suppose) ordered him to get away. The guy complained: "look, they even don't allow us POLES to stay there". Hmm... I was surpriced why he said "us Poles". Do they really treat Poles worse? Looking later at many Polish institutions, inscriptions etc. in Vilnius it's difficult to believe.
The Polish beggar told: they don't let us Poles to stay here, because he heard it was a woman of them (Lithuanians). The saying rather shows the attitude of the Pole to Lithuanians than the attitude of Lithuanians towards Poles. It was him who divided people into "us Poles" and "them" really. It was him who remembered the old good times when Wilno belonged to Poles and then Lithuanians were not allowed to visit every church without notice, maybe. ;) Or maybe that was because he hoped to get more support from you, after he complained about discrimination of Poles. ;)
NATIONAL FLAG OF LITHUANIA
There was tall flagpole with large national flag of Lithuania (yellow - green - red) on the top of Gediminas tower. It was good orientation point as the flag and the tower was seen from the old town below the Gediminas Hill.
Well, was there a flag of foreign country (occupant) hoisted there before? The Soviet Union flag or red, communist flag? Flag of Poland, Russia etc. before?
There was hoisted the flag of Poland and the flag of Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republik, which had a wide red stripe up, a thin white and a thin, but wider green stripes belove the red one. We explained that as a colony flag: the red stripe of Soviet Union flag was the widest, and two Lithuanian stripes of Tannenberg (Greenwood - Zalgiris (in Lithuanian)) battle
were taking less of place.
ZAPPA AND... ????
Before my trip to Vilnius I wrote in my travel book that there was a monument to Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993) - rock music legend - in Vilnius. I was told that his monument became symbol and evidence of Lithuanian independence and freedom after long time of Soviet occupation. I didn't see that monument but I found this grafitti at the wall back to the monument to Lithuanian poet Liudas Gira. Hmm... what did it mean: B.B.D. pavasaris ???
Hmm... there is interesting store about freedom, Zappa and Vilnius here
(...) The monument of Zappa in Vilnius (...) is not easy to find, because it is behind the building of the Polyclinic of Students in Pylimo street, near Petras Cvirka square on the corner with Pamënkalnio street. There used to be a nice graffiti there, too.
VYTIS - STATE EMBLEM OF REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
Excuse, it's more Lithuanian than Vilnius tip. I will transfer it to my Lithuania page soon.
This white knight with a rised sword kept in his hand is Lithuania state emblem since 1366. It's called the Vytis in Lithuanian language (the White Knight) and I could find it in many flags, buildings and... Lithuanian souvernirs. This one on my picture was put on attica of southern facade of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius.
The Vytis means "Pogon" in Polish language and it's present in Poland till now. For example it is a name of popular football team: Pogon Szczecin. Well, the two cultures Polish and Lithuanian influenced one each other a lot in the past.
More about Vitys: follow the link below, please.
Vytis means exactly the Pogon in Lithuanian, not the White Knight (if you thought so).
FISHING IN NERIS RIVER
Haha, I was a little bit surprised when I noticed these three fishermen trying to catch fish (succesfully, as I noticed) in Neris River. Hmm... it was in the same downtown/centre of quite large city - on southern bank of the river just by the Gediminas Hill (at Arsenalo gatve = street).
Did it prove that they take care about clear waters a lot? Maybe, although I am not sure.
EUROPEAN UNION FLAG IN VILNIUS
Lithuania joined European Union together with 9 other countries on May 1 2004. I was in Vilnius just at those days. There were quite many EU flags used by local business as advertisement. Just one example is on my picture: the largest EU flag I ever saw put on a house in Gedimino prospektas.
But in contrast to many Polish towns I passed by on 1 May 2004, there were no smaller EU flags put along Vilnius streets.
In Vilnius like in other cities of Lithuania over 90% of people voted for joining Lithuania to European Union. I wander how will they vote in say 2010? From a visitor point of view I expect higher prices but better quality and more choice of tourist facilities. Anyway, I think that Vilnius will be less expensive than any western European capital for many years. Even when they introduce Euro currency that is probably in 2009.
POLISH INSTITUTIONS IN VILNIUS
Referring to official dates there was 18.7 % Polish minority and 14.0 % Russian minority in Vilnius in 2001. Polish minority as I noticed had a few Polish institutions like Polish Institute and library, Association of Poles in Lithuania, Polish newspaper "Nasza gazeta" (Our newspaper), Polish radio "Znad Wilii".
Well, I don't know about Russians but I can say that I noticed some small, very small signs of Polish and Lithuanian nationalism in Vilnius. Nothing strange after long time of isolation of the two neighbours under Soviet regime and difficult shared history.
More in my travelogues :-)
GRAFFITI IN VILNIUS
Sometimes graffiti are real art, sometimes just voice of street, sometimes both. They are often painted by unknown authors and against the law (art crime ?). Sometimes local authorities designate usually neglected walls to be cover by graffiti as a kind of decoration. Never mind the local law, I think it's always a kind of local culture whatever it is.
In Vilnius I didn't found many graffiti. Well, I visited only its beautiful and spruce centre/downtown. But I found this one on my picture painted on a wall of old buiding at Bernardinu gatve (street).
Sometimes I can't understand real meaning of the words or drawings put on the wall even when the author used English words. Fascism sucks? A verb "suck" means to be without value or interest in American slang, right? Well, hooligans was understable but what was "Pietu IV" ???
Pietu IV means South 4, the stand in the Zalgiris stadium, there allways sitting lithuanian football fans - :))). Thank you, Ilona (Helleina from Vilnius).
This tower on my picture was the western tower of the Upper Castle and was put above Vilnian old town, at the top of Gediminas Hill. There was tall flagpole with national flag of Lithuania put on its top.
The tower was called Gediminas Tower and was one of the best known landmarks of both Vilnius and Lithuania.
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