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VILNIUS (Lithuanian pronunciation: ( listen ), see also other names ) is the capital of Lithuania
Lithuania
and its largest city, with a population of 542,664 as of 2015 . Vilnius
Vilnius
is located in the southeast part of Lithuania
Lithuania
and is the second largest city in the Baltic states . Vilnius
Vilnius
is the seat of the main government institutions of Lithuania as well as of the Vilnius District Municipality . Vilnius
Vilnius
is classified as a Gamma global city according to GaWC studies, and is known for the architecture in its Old Town , declared a UNESCO
UNESCO
World Heritage Site in 1994. Prior to World War II
World War II
, Vilnius
Vilnius
was one of the largest Jewish centers in Europe. Its Jewish influence has led to it being described as the "Jerusalem of Lithuania" and Napoleon
Napoleon
named it "the Jerusalem of the North" as he was passing through in 1812. In 2009, Vilnius
Vilnius
was the European Capital of Culture , together with the Austrian city of Linz
Linz
.

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology and other names

* 2 History

* 2.1 Early history and Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Lithuania
* 2.2 Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth * 2.3 In the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
* 2.4 In Poland
Poland
* 2.5 World War II
World War II
* 2.6 Lithuanian SSR – in Soviet Union
Soviet Union
* 2.7 Independent Lithuania
Lithuania

* 3 Geography * 4 Climate

* 5 Demographics

* 5.1 Evolution

* 6 Culture * 7 Economy * 8 Education * 9 Religion * 10 Parks, squares and cemeteries * 11 Sport

* 12 Transport

* 12.1 Public transport

* 13 Governance

* 13.1 Municipal Council * 13.2 Mayors * 13.3 Subdivisions

* 14 Twin towns – Sister cities * 15 Significant depictions in popular culture * 16 Notable people * 17 See also * 18 References * 19 External links

ETYMOLOGY AND OTHER NAMES

The name of the city originates from the Vilnia River . The city has also been known by many derivate spellings in various languages throughout its history: _Vilna_ was common in English. The most notable non-Lithuanian names for the city include: Polish : _Wilno_, Belarusian : Вiльня, German : _Wilna_, Latvian : _Viļņa_, Russian : Вильнюс, Yiddish : ווילנע (_Vilne_)‎, Czech : _Vilnius_. A Russian name from the time of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
was Вильна/Вильно (_Vilna/Vilno_), although Вильнюс (_Vilnius_) is now used. The names _Wilno_, _Wilna_ and _Vilna_ have also been used in older English, German, French and Italian language publications when the city was one of the capitals of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and later of Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic
. The name _Vilna_ is still used in Finnish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Hebrew. _Wilna_ is still used in German, along with _Vilnius_.

The neighborhoods of Vilnius
Vilnius
also have names in other languages , which represent the languages spoken by various ethnic groups in the area.

HISTORY

Main articles: History of Vilnius and Timeline of Vilnius

EARLY HISTORY AND GRAND DUCHY OF LITHUANIA

King Mindaugas Monument

Historian Romas Batūra identifies the city with Voruta , one of the castles of Mindaugas , crowned in 1253 as King of Lithuania
Lithuania
. During the reign of Vytenis a city started to emerge from a trading settlement and the first Franciscan Catholic church was built.

The city was first mentioned in written sources in 1323 as _Vilna_, when the Letters of Grand Duke Gediminas
Gediminas
were sent to German cities inviting Germans (including German Jews) to settle in the capital city, as well as to Pope John XXII . These letters contain the first unambiguous reference to Vilnius
Vilnius
as the capital; Old Trakai
Trakai
Castle had been the earlier seat of the court of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Lithuania
.

According to legend, Gediminas
Gediminas
dreamt of an iron wolf howling on a hilltop and consulted a pagan priest Lizdeika for its interpretation. He was told: "What is destined for the ruler and the State of Lithuania, is thus: the Iron Wolf represents a castle and a city which will be established by you on this site. This city will be the capital of the Lithuanian lands and the dwelling of their rulers, and the glory of their deeds shall echo throughout the world". The location offered practical advantages: it lay within the Lithuanian heartland at the confluence of two navigable rivers, surrounded by forests and wetlands that were difficult to penetrate. The duchy had been subject to intrusions by the Teutonic Knights . St. Nicholas Church (built before 1387) is the oldest church in Vilnius
Vilnius
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
Lithuania

Vilnius
Vilnius
was the flourishing capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the residence of the Grand Duke. Gediminas
Gediminas
expanded the Grand Duchy through warfare along with strategic alliances and marriages. At its height it covered the territory of modern-day Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Transnistria, and portions of modern-day Poland
Poland
and Russia. His grandchildren Vytautas
Vytautas
the Great and Jogaila
Jogaila
, however, fought civil wars. During the Lithuanian Civil War of 1389–1392 , Vytautas besieged and razed the city in an attempt to wrest control from Jogaila. The two later settled their differences; after a series of treaties culminating in the 1569 Union of Lublin , the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was formed. The rulers of this federation held either or both of two titles: Grand Duke of Lithuania or King of Poland . In 1387, Jogaila
Jogaila
acting as a Grand Duke of Lithuania
Lithuania
and King of Poland Władysław II Jagiełło
Władysław II Jagiełło
, granted Magdeburg rights to the city.

POLISH–LITHUANIAN COMMONWEALTH

Subačius Gate by Franciszek Smuglewicz St. Peter and St. Paul\'s Church is famous for its impressive Baroque
Baroque
architecture Gate of Dawn
Gate of Dawn
Church of St. Casimir

The city underwent a period of expansion. The Vilnius
Vilnius
city walls were built for protection between 1503 and 1522, comprising nine city gates and three towers, and Sigismund August moved his court there in 1544.

Its growth was due in part to the establishment of Alma Academia et Universitas Vilnensis Societatis Iesu by the Polish King Stefan Bathory in 1579. The university soon developed into one of the most important scientific and cultural centres of the region and the most notable scientific centre of the Commonwealth.

During its rapid development, the city was open to migrants from the territories of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland , Grand Duchy and further. A variety of languages were spoken: Polish , German , Yiddish , Ruthenian , Lithuanian , Russian , Old Church Slavonic , Latin
Latin
, Hebrew , and Turkic languages ; the city was compared to Babylon
Babylon
. Each group made its unique contribution to the life of the city, and crafts, trade, and science prospered.

The 17th century brought a number of setbacks. The Commonwealth was involved in a series of wars, collectively known as The Deluge . During the Russo-Polish War (1654–1667) , Vilnius
Vilnius
was occupied by Russian forces; it was pillaged and burned, and its population was massacred. During the Great Northern War it was looted by the Swedish army. An outbreak of bubonic plague in 1710 killed about 35,000 residents ; devastating fires occurred in 1715, 1737, 1741, 1748, and 1749. The city's growth lost its momentum for many years, but even despite this fact, at the end of the 18th century and before the Napoleon
Napoleon
wars, Vilnius, with 56,000 inhabitants, entered the Russian Empire as its 3rd largest city.

IN THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE

La Grande Armée
Grande Armée
in Vilnius
Vilnius
during its retreat (near the Vilnius Town Hall ) by Jan Krzysztof Damel

The fortunes of the Commonwealth declined during the 18th century. Three partitions took place, dividing its territory among the Russian Empire , the Habsburg Empire , and the Kingdom of Prussia . After the third partition of April 1795, Vilnius
Vilnius
was annexed by the Russian Empire and became the capital of the Vilna Governorate . During Russian rule, the city walls were destroyed, and, by 1805, only the Gate of Dawn
Gate of Dawn
remained. In 1812, the city was taken by Napoleon
Napoleon
on his push towards Moscow
Moscow
, and again during the disastrous retreat. The Grande Armée
Grande Armée
was welcomed in Vilnius. Thousands of soldiers died in the city during the eventual retreat; the mass graves were uncovered in 2002. Inhabitants expected Tsar
Tsar
Alexander I to grant them autonomy in response to Napoleon's promises to restore the Commonwealth, but Vilnius
Vilnius
didn't become autonomous by itself nor as a part of Congress Poland
Poland
.

Following the November Uprising
November Uprising
in 1831, Vilnius University
Vilnius University
was closed and Russian repressions halted the further development of the city. Civil unrest in 1861 was suppressed by the Imperial Russian Army .

During the January Uprising
January Uprising
in 1863, heavy fighting occurred within the city, but was brutally pacified by Mikhail Muravyov , nicknamed _The Hangman_ by the population because of the number of executions he organized. After the uprising, all civil liberties were withdrawn, and use of the Polish and Lithuanian languages was banned. Vilnius
Vilnius
had a vibrant Jewish population: according to Russian census of 1897 , out of the total population of 154,500, Jews constituted 64,000 (approximately 40%). During the early 20th century, the Lithuanian-speaking population of Vilnius
Vilnius
constituted only a small minority, with Polish, Yiddish, and Russian speakers comprising the majority of the city's population.

IN POLAND

The Chapel of Saint Casimir in the Cathedral of Vilnius

During World War I, Vilnius
Vilnius
and the rest of Lithuania
Lithuania
was occupied by the German Army from 1915 until 1918. The Act of Independence of Lithuania
Lithuania
, declaring Lithuanian independence from any affiliation to any other nation, was issued in the city on 16 February 1918. After the withdrawal of German forces, the city was briefly controlled by Polish self-defence units , which were driven out by advancing Soviet forces . Vilnius
Vilnius
changed hands again during the Polish–Soviet War and the Lithuanian Wars of Independence : it was taken by the Polish Army , only to fall to Soviet forces again. Shortly after its defeat in the battle of Warsaw
Warsaw
, the retreating Red Army
Red Army
, in order to delay the Polish advance, ceded the city to Lithuania
Lithuania
after signing the Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty on 12 July 1920.

Poland
Poland
and Lithuania
Lithuania
both perceived the city as their own. The League of Nations became involved in the subsequent dispute between the two countries. The League brokered the Suwałki Agreement on 7 October 1920. Although neither Vilnius
Vilnius
or the surrounding region was explicitly addressed in the agreement, numerous historians have described the agreement as allotting Vilnius
Vilnius
to Lithuania. On 9 October 1920, the Polish Army surreptitiously, under General Lucjan Żeligowski , seized Vilnius
Vilnius
during an operation known as Żeligowski\'s Mutiny . The city and its surroundings were designated as a separate state, called the Republic of Central Lithuania
Lithuania
. On 20 February 1922 after the highly contested election in Central Lithuania , the entire area was annexed by Poland, with the city becoming the capital of the Wilno Voivodship (Wilno being the name of Vilnius
Vilnius
in Polish). Kaunas then became the temporary capital of Lithuania
Lithuania
. Lithuania
Lithuania
vigorously contested the Polish annexation of Vilnius, and refused diplomatic relations with Poland. The predominant languages of the city were still Polish and, to a lesser extent, Yiddish . The Lithuanian-speaking population at the time was a small minority, at about 6% of the city's population according even to contemporary Lithuanian sources. The Council of Ambassadors and the international community (with the exception of Lithuania) recognized Polish sovereignty over Vilnus region in 1923.

Vilnius University
Vilnius University
was reopened in 1919 under the name of Stefan Batory University By 1931, the city had 195,000 inhabitants, making it the fifth largest city in Poland
Poland
with varied industries, such as Elektrit , a factory that produced radio receivers.

WORLD WAR II

Lithuanian National Philharmony

World War II
World War II
began with the German invasion of Poland
Poland
in September 1939. The secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had partitioned Lithuania
Lithuania
and Poland
Poland
into German and Soviet spheres of interest. On 19 September 1939, Vilnius
Vilnius
was seized by the Soviet Union (which invaded Poland
Poland
on 17 September ). The USSR and Lithuania concluded a mutual assistance treaty on 10 October 1939, with which the Lithuanian government accepted the presence of Soviet military bases in various parts of the country. On 28 October 1939, the Red Army withdrew from the city to its suburbs (to Naujoji Vilnia ) and Vilnius
Vilnius
was given over to Lithuania. A Lithuanian Army parade took place on 29 October 1939 through the city centre. The Lithuanians immediately attempted to Lithuanize the city, for example by Lithuanizing Polish schools. However, the whole of Lithuania
Lithuania
was annexed by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
on 3 August 1940 following a June ultimatum from the Soviets demanding, among other things, that unspecified numbers of Red Army
Red Army
soldiers be allowed to enter the country for the purpose of helping to form a more pro-Soviet government. After the ultimatum was issued and Lithuania
Lithuania
further occupied, a Soviet government was installed with Vilnius
Vilnius
as the capital of the newly created Lithuanian SSR . Between 20,000 and 30,000 of the city's inhabitants were subsequently arrested by the NKVD
NKVD
and sent to gulags in the far eastern areas of the Soviet Union. The Soviets devastated city industries, moving the major Polish radio factory Elektrit , along with a part of its labour force, to Minsk
Minsk
in Belarus, where it was renamed the Vyacheslav Molotov Radio Factory, after Stalin's Minister of Foreign Affairs. Soviet Red Army entering Vilnius
Vilnius

On 22 June 1941, the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union. Vilnius
Vilnius
was captured on 24 June. Two ghettos were set up in the old town centre for the large Jewish population – the smaller one of which was "liquidated" by October. The larger ghetto lasted until 1943, though its population was regularly deported in roundups known as "Aktionen ". A failed ghetto uprising on 1 September 1943 organized by the Fareinigte Partizaner Organizacje (the United Partisan Organization, the first Jewish partisan unit in German-occupied Europe), was followed by the final destruction of the ghetto. During the Holocaust , about 95% of the 265,000-strong Jewish population of Lithuania
Lithuania
was murdered by the German units and Lithuanian Nazi collaborators, many of them in Paneriai , about 10 km (6.2 mi) west of the old town centre (see the Ponary massacre ). In 2015, a street sign was unveiled in Kūdrų street for Righteous Among the Nations Ona Šimaitė , along with that street being renamed after her.

LITHUANIAN SSR – IN SOVIET UNION

Former KGB
KGB
headquarters in Vilnius
Vilnius
now Museum of Genocide Victims

In July 1944, Vilnius
Vilnius
was taken from the Germans by the Soviet Army and the Polish Armia Krajowa (see Operation Ostra Brama and the Vilnius Offensive ). The NKVD
NKVD
arrested the leaders of the Armia Krajowa after requesting a meeting. Shortly afterwards, the town was once again incorporated into the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
as the capital of the Lithuanian SSR .

The war had irreversibly altered the town – most of the predominantly Polish and Jewish population had been expelled and exterminated respectively, during and after the German occupation. Some members of the intelligentsia and former Waffen SS members hiding in the forest were now targeted and deported to Siberia after the war. The majority of the remaining population was compelled to relocate to Communist Poland
Poland
by 1946 , and Sovietization began in earnest. Only in the 1960s did Vilnius
Vilnius
begin to grow again, following an influx of Lithuanians and Poles from neighbouring regions as well as from other areas of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
(particularly Russia
Russia
and Belarus). Microdistricts were built in the elderates of Šeškinė , Žirmūnai , Justiniškės and Fabijoniškės .

INDEPENDENT LITHUANIA

Vilnius TV Tower , the main site of January\'s Events

On 11 March 1990, the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian SSR announced its secession from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and intention to restore an independent Republic of Lithuania. As a result of these declarations, on 9 January 1991, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
sent in troops. This culminated in the 13 January attack on the State Radio and Television Building and the Vilnius TV Tower , killing at least fourteen civilians and seriously injuring 700 more. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
finally recognised Lithuanian independence in September 1991. The current Constitution , as did the earlier Lithuanian Constitution of 1922, mentions that "…the capital of the State of Lithuania
Lithuania
shall be the city of Vilnius, the long-standing historical capital of Lithuania". Didžioji Street Vilnius Cathedral
Vilnius Cathedral
Square

Vilnius
Vilnius
has been rapidly transformed, and the town has emerged as a modern European city. Many of its older buildings have been renovated, and a business and commercial area is being developed into the _New City Centre_, expected to become the city's main administrative and business district on the north side of the Neris river. This area includes modern residential and retail space, with the municipality building and the 129-metre (423') Europa Tower as its most prominent buildings. The construction of Swedbank 's headquarters is symbolic of the importance of Scandinavian banks in Vilnius. The building complex " Vilnius
Vilnius
Business Harbour " was built in 2008, and one of its towers is now the 5th tallest building in Lithuania. More buildings are scheduled for construction in the area. Vilnius
Vilnius
was selected as a 2009 European Capital of Culture , along with Linz
Linz
, the capital of Upper Austria
Austria
. Its 2009 New Year's Eve celebration, marking the event, featured a light show said to be "visible from outer space". In preparation, the historical centre of the city was restored, and its main monuments were renovated. The global economic crisis led to a drop in tourism which prevented many of the projects from reaching their planned extent, and allegations of corruption and incompetence were made against the organisers, while tax increases for cultural activity led to public protests and the general economic conditions sparked riots. Today, Vilnius' population and economy are rapidly growing. In 2015 Remigijus Šimašius became the first directly elected mayor of the city. Gediminas\' Avenue in autumn

Vilnius
Vilnius
has some of the highest internet speeds in the world, with an average download speed of 36.37 MB/s and upload speed of 28.51 MB/s.

Vilnius
Vilnius
has access to groundwater, and there is no need to use extensive chemicals in treating surface water from lakes or rivers, providing residents with some of the cleanest and healthiest tap water access in Europe.

On 28–29 November 2013, Vilnius
Vilnius
hosted the Eastern Partnership Summit in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
Lithuania
. Many European presidents, prime ministers and other high-ranking officials participated in the event. On 29 November 2013, Georgia and Moldova signed association and free trade agreements with the European Union
European Union
. Previously, Ukraine
Ukraine
and Armenia
Armenia
were also expected to sign the agreements but postponed the decision, sparking large protests in the former country.

On 20 December 2013, CNN
CNN
named Vilnius Cathedral
Vilnius Cathedral
Square 's Christmas tree as the best in the world, while EssentialTravel.co.uk mentioned Vilnius
Vilnius
as one of the ten best destinations to spend your Christmas.

GEOGRAPHY

Neris River at Mindaugas Bridge with Vilnius
Vilnius
Upper Castle in the distance

Vilnius
Vilnius
is situated in south-eastern Lithuania
Lithuania
(54°41′N 25°17′E / 54.683°N 25.283°E / 54.683; 25.283 ) at the confluence of the Vilnia and Neris Rivers. Lying close to Vilnius
Vilnius
is a site some claim to be the Geographical Centre of Europe .

Vilnius
Vilnius
lies 312 km (194 mi) from the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
and Klaipėda , the chief Lithuanian seaport . Vilnius
Vilnius
is connected by highways to other major Lithuanian cities, such as Kaunas (102 km or 63 mi away), Šiauliai (214 km or 133 mi away) and Panevėžys (135 km or 84 mi away). The city's off-centre location can be attributed to the changing shape of the nation's borders through the centuries; Vilnius was once not only culturally but also geographically at the centre of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Lithuania
.

The current area of Vilnius
Vilnius
is 402 square kilometres (155 sq mi). Buildings occupy 29.1% of the city; green spaces occupy 68.8%; and waters occupy 2.1%.

CLIMATE

The climate of Vilnius
Vilnius
is humid continental (Köppen climate classification _Dfb_). Temperature records have been kept since 1777. The average annual temperature is 6.1 °C (43 °F); in January the average temperature is −4.9 °C (23 °F), in July it is 17.0 °C (63 °F). The average precipitation is about 661 millimetres (26.02 in) per year. Average annual temperatures in the city have increased significantly during the last 30 years, a change which the Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service attributes to global warming induced by human activities.

Summer days are pleasantly warm and sometimes hot, especially in July and August, with temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) throughout the day during periodic heat waves. Night-life in Vilnius
Vilnius
is in full swing at this time of year, and outdoor bars, restaurants and cafés become very popular during the daytime.

Winters can be very cold, with temperatures rarely reaching above freezing – temperatures below −25 °C (−13 °F) are not unheard-of in January and February. Vilnius's rivers freeze over in particularly cold winters, and the lakes surrounding the city are almost always permanently frozen during this time of year. A popular pastime is ice-fishing .

CLIMATE DATA FOR VILNIUS

MONTH JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC YEAR

RECORD HIGH °C (°F) 8.5 (47.3) 14.4 (57.9) 19.8 (67.6) 27.6 (81.7) 31.8 (89.2) 33.4 (92.1) 35.4 (95.7) 34.4 (93.9) 29.8 (85.6) 24.5 (76.1) 14.9 (58.8) 10.5 (50.9) 35.4 (95.7)

AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F) −3.5 (25.7) −1.7 (28.9) 3.3 (37.9) 10.7 (51.3) 18.2 (64.8) 21.1 (70) 22.1 (71.8) 21.6 (70.9) 16.4 (61.5) 10.2 (50.4) 3.5 (38.3) −0.5 (31.1) 10.1 (50.2)

DAILY MEAN °C (°F) −6.1 (21) −4.8 (23.4) −0.6 (30.9) 5.7 (42.3) 12.5 (54.5) 15.8 (60.4) 16.9 (62.4) 16.3 (61.3) 11.6 (52.9) 6.6 (43.9) 1.2 (34.2) −2.9 (26.8) 6.02 (42.83)

AVERAGE LOW °C (°F) −8.7 (16.3) −7.6 (18.3) −3.8 (25.2) 1.6 (34.9) 7.5 (45.5) 10.8 (51.4) 12.3 (54.1) 11.5 (52.7) 7.7 (45.9) 3.4 (38.1) −0.9 (30.4) −5.2 (22.6) 2.4 (36.3)

RECORD LOW °C (°F) −37.2 (−35) −35.8 (−32.4) −29.6 (−21.3) −14.1 (6.6) −3.6 (25.5) 0.0 (32) 3.5 (38.3) 1.0 (33.8) −4.8 (23.4) −14.4 (6.1) −22.5 (−8.5) −30.5 (−22.9) −37.2 (−35)

AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MM (INCHES) 38.9 (1.531) 34.4 (1.354) 37.0 (1.457) 46.2 (1.819) 52.1 (2.051) 72.7 (2.862) 79.3 (3.122) 75.8 (2.984) 65.2 (2.567) 51.5 (2.028) 51.5 (2.028) 49.2 (1.937) 653.5 (25.728)

AVERAGE PRECIPITATION DAYS 21.7 18.4 17.5 10.2 12.4 11.7 11.4 10.5 9.7 13.5 16.7 21.2 174.9

AVERAGE RELATIVE HUMIDITY (%) 87.2 84.3 77.6 65.5 67.2 70.2 73.3 74.1 78.5 84.7 90.0 89.0 78.5

MEAN MONTHLY SUNSHINE HOURS 36 71 117 164 241 231 219 217 140 94 33 25 1,588

Source #1: World Meteorological Organization
World Meteorological Organization
(avg high and low) NOAA (sun, extremes, and mean temperatures)

Source #2: Weatherbase (precipitation and humidity)

DEMOGRAPHICS

HISTORIC ETHNIC MAKEUP OF VILNIUS YEAR LITHUANIANS POLES RUSSIANS JEWS OTHERS TOTAL

1897 3,131 2% 47,795 30.1% 30,967 20% 61,847 40% 10,792 7% 154,532

1931 1,579 0.8% 128,600 65.5% 7,400 3.8% 54,600 27.8% 4,166 2.1% 196,345

1959 79,400 34% 47,200 20% 69,400 29% 16,400 7% 23,700 10% 236,100

2001 318,510 57.5% 104,446 18.9% 77,698 14.1% 2,770 0.5% 50,480 9.1% 553,904

2012 337,000 63.2% 88,380 16.5% 64,275 12% N/A 45,976 8.6% 535,631

The Republic of Užupis

* 1897: According to the first census in the Russian Empire, in 1897 population of Vilnius
Vilnius
was 154,500. The largest linguistic groups at the time were those speaking Jewish (61,847) and Polish (47,795). Other groups included Russian (30,967), Belarusian (6,514) and Ukrainian (517), Lithuanian (3,131), German (2,170), Tartar (722) and Latvian (184) speaking communities.

According to the census, 52,4% of the inhabitants were local, while others settled in the city from other regions. Among the townsmen class, there were 36,576 new-comers (among whose, 17,465 were born in Vilna Governorate ). Among the peasant new-comers, 16,312 came from other localities of Vilna Governorate and 16,054 from the other governorates . Among the nobility class in Vilnius
Vilnius
during the census of 1897, there were 5,301 (46,3%) local nobles and 6,403 (54,7%) new-comers. 24,1% of these noble new-comers came from Vilna Governorate territories, while the rest new-comers nobles came to Vilnius
Vilnius
from Grodno Governorate , Minsk
Minsk
Governorate , Vitebsk Governorate , Kovno Governorate , Vistula Land and other regions.

* 1916: According to the census of 14 December 1916 by the occupying German forces at the time, there were a total of 138,794 inhabitants in Vilnius. This number was made up of the following nationalities: Poles 53.67% (74,466 inhabitants), Jews 41.45% (57,516 inhabitants), Lithuanians 2.09% (2,909 inhabitants), Russians 1.59% (2,219 inhabitants), Germans 0.63% (880 inhabitants), Belarusians 0.44% (644 inhabitants) and others at 0.13% (193 inhabitants). * 1923: 167,545 inhabitants, including 100,830 Poles and 55,437 Jews. * 1931: 196,345 inhabitants. A census of 9 December 1931 reveals that Poles made up 65.9% of the total Vilnius
Vilnius
population (128,600 inhabitants), Jews 28% (54,600 inhabitants), Russians 3.8% (7,400 inhabitants), Belarusians 0.9% (1,700 inhabitants), Lithuanians 0.8% (1,579 inhabitants), Germans 0.3% (600 inhabitants), Ukrainians 0.1% (200 inhabitants), others 0.2% (approx. 400 inhabitants). (The Wilno Voivodeship in the same year had 1,272,851 inhabitants, of which 511,741 used Polish as their language of communication; many Belarusians lived there. ) * 1959: According to the Soviet census, Vilnius
Vilnius
had 236,100 inhabitants, of which 34% (79,400) identified themselves as Lithuanian, 29% (69,400) as Russian, 20% (47,200) as Polish, 7% (16,400) as Jewish and 6% (14,700) as Belarusian. * 1989: According to the Soviet census, Vilnius
Vilnius
had 576,700 inhabitants, of which 50.5% (291,500) were Lithuanian, 20% Russian, 19% Polish and 5% Belarusian. * 2001: According to the 2001 census by the Vilnius
Vilnius
Regional Statistical Office, there were 542,287 inhabitants in the Vilnius
Vilnius
City Municipality, of which 57.8% were Lithuanians, 18.7% Poles, 14% Russians, 4.0% Belarusians, 1.3% Ukrainians and 0.5% Jews; the remainder indicated other nationalities or refused to answer. * 2011: According to the 2011 census by Statistics Lithuania, Vilnius
Vilnius
is inhabited by people of 128 different ethnicities which makes it the most ethnically diverse city in Lithuania, while the majority of Vilnius
Vilnius
population is made up by Lithuanians (63.6%).

EVOLUTION

Demographic evolution of Vilnius
Vilnius
between 1766 and 2015:

HISTORICAL POPULATION

YEAR POP. ±% P.A.

1766 60,000 —

1796¹ 17,500 −4.02%

1800 25,400 +9.76%

1811 56,300 +7.50%

1818² 33,600 −7.11%

1822 43,900 +6.91%

1830 42,000 −0.55%

1834 52,400 +5.69%

1836 56,100 +3.47%

1839 54,700 −0.84%

1846 54,200 −0.13%

1852 65,400 +3.18%

1860 60,000 −1.07%

1870 64,200 +0.68%

1875 82,700 +5.19%

1885 102,900 +2.21%

YEAR POP. ±% P.A.

1897 154,500 +3.44%

1909 205,200 +2.39%

1911 238,600 +7.83%

1916 140,800 −10.01%

1919³ 128,500 −3.00%

1923 167,400 +6.83%

1931 195,100 +1.93%

1939 209,400 +0.89%

1941⁴ 270,000 +13.55%

1944⁵ 110,000 −25.87%

1959 236,100 +5.22%

1970 372,100 +4.22%

1979 481,000 +2.89%

1985 544,400 +2.09%

1989 576,700 +1.45%

1990 597,000 +3.52%

YEAR POP. ±% P.A.

1992 644,600 +3.91%

2001 554,281 −1.66%

2002 550,924 −0.61%

2003 550,213 −0.13%

2004 548,729 −0.27%

2005 546,773 −0.36%

2006 542,525 −0.78%

2007 541,732 −0.15%

2008 541,596 −0.03%

2009 542,969 +0.25%

2010 543,191 +0.04%

2011 536,127 −1.30%

2012 533,279 −0.53%

2013 537,152 +0.73%

2014 539,939 +0.52%

2015 542,664 +0.50%

Source: ¹ Sharp decline after the Vilnius Uprising (1794) ; ² Decline of population due to Napoleonic wars and the aftermath; ³ Sharp decline of population of Vilnius
Vilnius
because of World War I and the aftermath during the clashes around Vilnius
Vilnius
. These resulted in evacuation of Russian military, bureaucracy and the majority of its Russian inhabitants from Vilnius
Vilnius
in 1915, as well as fleeing or evacuation of other Vilnius
Vilnius
inhabitants of various communities (mostly Jewish and Lithuanian) to Russia
Russia
and rural parts of Lithuania; ⁴ Rise of population due to influx of Polish and Jewish war refugees and migration of Lithuanian bureaucracy, students from temporary capital Kaunas and other localities in Lithuania; ⁵ Sharp decline of population after atrocities of World War II
World War II
and The Holocaust

CULTURE

Old town of Vilnius
Vilnius

Vilnius
Vilnius
is a cosmopolitan city with diverse architecture. There are 65 churches in Vilnius. Like most medieval towns, Vilnius
Vilnius
was developed around its Town Hall . The main artery, Pilies Street , links the Royal Palace with Town Hall. Other streets meander through the palaces of feudal lords and landlords, churches, shops and craftsmen's workrooms. Narrow, curved streets and intimate courtyards developed in the radial layout of medieval Vilnius.

The Old Town of Vilnius , the historical centre of Vilnius, is one of the largest in Europe at 3.6 km2 (1.4 sq mi). The most valuable historic and cultural sites are concentrated here. The buildings in the old town—there are nearly 1,500—were built over several centuries, creating a blend of many different architectural styles. Although Vilnius
Vilnius
is known as a Baroque
Baroque
city, there are examples of Gothic (e.g. Church of St. Anne ), Renaissance
Renaissance
, and other styles. Their combination is also a gateway to the historic centre of the capital. Owing to its uniqueness, the Old Town of Vilnius was inscribed on the UNESCO
UNESCO
World Heritage List in 1994. Vilnius University 's main campus's spectacular architectural ensemble features 13 courtyards framed by 15th century buildings and splashed with 300-year-old frescoes, and the Church of St. Johns. The Gate of Dawn , the only surviving gate of the first original five gates in the city wall, hosts the painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which has been said to have miracle-working powers. Over 200 tiles and commemorative plaques to writers, who have lived and worked in Vilnius, and foreign authors, who have shared a connection with Vilnius
Vilnius
and Lithuania, adorn a wall on Literatų street (Lithuanian : _Literatų gatvė_) in the Old Town, presenting a broad overview of the history of Lithuanian literature. In Antakalnis district there is Church of St. Peter and St. Paul – a masterpiece of the 17th-century Baroque
Baroque
famous for its exceptional interior where one can see about 2,000 stucco figures. In 1995, the world's first bronze cast of Frank Zappa was installed in the Naujamiestis district with the permission of the government. The Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
sculpture confirmed the newly found freedom of expression, and marked the beginning of a new era for Lithuanian society. A panoramic view of the Old Town of Vilnius looking south from Gediminas
Gediminas
Tower The interior of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn
Gate of Dawn

The Vilnius Castle Complex , a group of defensive, cultural, and religious buildings that includes Gediminas
Gediminas
Tower of the Upper Castle (which is a part of National Museum of Lithuania
Lithuania
), Cathedral Square and the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
Lithuania
. Lithuania's largest art collection is housed in the Lithuanian Art Museum . One branch of it, the Vilnius
Vilnius
Picture Gallery in the Old Town , houses a collection of Lithuanian art from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century. On the other side of the Neris, the National Art Gallery holds a permanent exhibition on Lithuanian 20th-century art, as well as numerous exhibitions on modern art. The House of the Signatories , where the 1918 Act of Independence of Lithuania
Lithuania
was signed, is now a historic landmark. The Museum of Genocide Victims is dedicated to the victims of the Soviet era.

The Contemporary Art Centre is the largest venue for contemporary art in the Baltic States, with an exhibition space of 2400 square meters. The Centre is a non-collection based institution committed to developing a broad range of international and Lithuanian exhibition projects as well as presenting a wide range of public programmes including lectures, seminars, performances, film and video screenings, and live new music events. The Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania
Lithuania
, named for the author of the first book printed in the Lithuanian language, holds 6,912,266 physical items. The biggest book fair in Baltic States is annually held in Vilnius
Vilnius
at LITEXPO , the Baltic's biggest exhibition centre.

On 10 November 2007, the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center was opened by avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas
Jonas Mekas
. Its premiere exhibition was entitled _The Avant-Garde: From Futurism to Fluxus _. The Modern Art Centre, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018, will become a new cultural space for the city of Vilnius. It will host a private collection of modern and contemporary Lithuanian visual art.

There were plans to build the Guggenheim-Hermitage museum , designed by Zaha Hadid , but the project has been terminated. The museum would have hosted exhibitions featuring works from Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
's Hermitage Museum and the Guggenheim Museums , along with non-commercial avant-garde cinema, a library, a museum of Lithuanian Jewish culture , and collections of works by Jonas Mekas
Jonas Mekas
and Jurgis Mačiūnas .

The Užupis district near the Old Town, which used to be one of the most run down districts of Vilnius
Vilnius
during the Soviet era, is home to a movement of bohemian artists, who operate numerous art galleries and workshops. Užupis declared itself an independent republic on April Fool\'s Day in 1997. In the main square, the statue of an angel blowing a trumpet stands as a symbol of artistic freedom. Lithuanian National Drama Theatre

In 2015, the project of Vilnius
Vilnius
Talking Statues was realized. 15 statues around Vilnius
Vilnius
now interact with visitors in multiple languages by a simple telephone call to a smart phone.

The Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre shows both standard Western repertory works and national operas and ballets. Vilnius
Vilnius
City Opera – an independent opera theatre in Lithuania, well known for its high quality, innovative and modern artistic approach, blends classical with contemporary. Lithuanian National Drama Theatre , State Small Theatre of Vilnius, State Youth Theatre and a number of private theatre companies, including OKT / Vilnius
Vilnius
City Theatre, Anželika Cholina dance theatre and others, show classical, modern and Lithuanian playwriting directed by world-known Lithuanian and foreign directors.

The Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society is the largest and oldest state owned concert organisation in Lithuania, whose main activity is to organise and coordinate live concerts, diverse classical/classical contemporary/jazz music events and tours throughout Lithuania
Lithuania
and abroad. The Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra every year builds up a wide-ranging repertoire, introduces exceptional programs, and invites young talent to perform along with outstanding and recognized soloists.

ECONOMY

The modern skyline of Vilnius' Financial Centre at night

Vilnius
Vilnius
is the major economic centre of Lithuania
Lithuania
and one of the largest financial centres of the Baltic states . Even though it is home to only 20% of Lithuania's population, it generates about one third of Lithuania's GDP. GDP per capita (nominal) in Vilnius
Vilnius
county was $ 21,000 in 2015, making it the wealthiest region in Lithuania. The budget of Vilnius
Vilnius
reached €0.5 billion in 2017. Vilnius contributed almost €3 billion to the national budget in 2008, making up about 40% of the budget. The average monthly net salary in Vilnius city municipality reached €727 as of 2017 (average gross salary in Vilnius
Vilnius
was €938 or $1,100 in 2017). In 2016, Vilnius
Vilnius
merged two organisations to create Go Vilnius
Vilnius
- an agency tasked with developing tourism and investment in the city.

There are growing local advanced solar and laser technologies manufacturers centres, such as photovoltaic elements and renewable energy producers (Arginta, Precizika, and Baltic Solar), high performance lasers manufacturers (Ekspla, and Eksma), biotechnological manufacturers (Fermentas Thermo Fisher, and Sicor Biotech), which successfully supply their products into global markets.

In 2009, the Barclays Technology Centre was established in Vilnius, which is one of the bank's four global strategic engineering centres.

EDUCATION

The Grand Courtyard
Courtyard
of Vilnius University
Vilnius University
and Church of St. Johns

The city has 12 primary schools, 19 progymnasiums and 42 gymnasiums.

The city has many universities. The largest and oldest is Vilnius University with 20,864 students. Its main premises are located in the Old Town. The university has been ranked among the top 500 universities in the world by QS World University Rankings . The University is participating in projects with UNESCO
UNESCO
and NATO
NATO
, among others. It features 15 Masters programs in English and 2 in Russian, as well as programs delivered in cooperation with universities all over Europe. The university is currently divided into 12 faculties, 7 institutes, and 4 study and research centres.

Other major universities include Mykolas Romeris University (17,739 students as of 2013 ), Vilnius
Vilnius
Gediminas
Gediminas
Technical University (10,500 students ), and Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences (3,550 students ). Specialized higher schools with university status include General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania
Lithuania
, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and Vilnius Academy of Arts . The museum associated with the Vilnius Academy of Arts holds about 12,000 artworks.

There are also a few private universities such as ISM University of Management and Economics , European Humanities University and Kazimieras Simonavičius University .

Several colleges are also located in Vilnius
Vilnius
including Vilnius College, Vilnius College of Technologies and Design , International School of Law and Business and others.

RELIGION

See also: List of churches in Vilnius

RELIGIOUS GROUPS IN VILNIUS (2011 CENSUS) RELIGION PEOPLE %

Roman Catholic 350,797 65.49%

Eastern Orthodox 47,827 8.93%

Old Believers 5,593 1.04%

Evangelical Lutheran 1,594 0.30%

Evangelical Reformed 1,186 0.22%

Sunni Muslim 798 0.15%

Jewish 796 0.15%

Greek Catholic 167 0.03%

Karaim 139 0.03%

Other 5,050 0.94%

None 47,655 8.90%

No response 74,029 13.82%

Orthodox Cathedral of the Theotokos Karaite Kenesa
Kenesa

Already in the XVII c. image of Vilnius
Vilnius
as a city of many religions was very noticeable. In 1600, Samuel Lewkenor’s book describing cities with universities was published in London. He mentioned that citizens of Vilnius
Vilnius
were Catholics, Orthodox, followers of John Calvin and Martin Luther, Jews and Tartar Muslims. Vilnius
Vilnius
had a reputation as a city which had no rivals in Europe in the number of churches of different confessions throughout the entire 17th century. At the end of the century, this image was promoted by the highly rated and several times republished work by Robert Morden "Geography Rectified or a Description of the World" which ran that no other city in the world could surpass Vilnius
Vilnius
in the number of churches and temples of various confessions except perhaps Amsterdam.

Today Vilnius
Vilnius
is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vilnius
Vilnius
, with the main church institutions and Archdiocesan Cathedral ( Vilnius Cathedral
Vilnius Cathedral
) located here. The city of Vilnius
Vilnius
became the birthplace of the Divine Mercy Devotion when Saint
Saint
Faustina began her mission under the guidance and discernment of her new spiritual director Fr. Michał Sopoćko . In 1934, the first Divine Mercy painting was painted by Eugene Kazimierowski under the supervision of Faustina and it presently hangs in the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Vilnius. Numerous other Christian Beatified persons, martyrs , Servants of God and Saints , are associated with Vilnius. These, among others, include Franciscan martyrs of Vilnius , Orthodox martyrs Anthony, John, and Eustathius , Saint
Saint
Casimir , Josaphat Kuntsevych , Andrew Bobola , Raphael Kalinowski , Jurgis Matulaitis .

There are a number of other active Roman Catholic churches in the city, along with small enclosed monasteries and religion schools. Church architecture includes Gothic , Renaissance
Renaissance
, Baroque
Baroque
and Neoclassical styles, with important examples of each found in the Old Town . Additionally, Eastern Rite Catholicism has maintained a presence in Vilnius
Vilnius
since the Union of Brest
Union of Brest
. The Baroque
Baroque
Basilian Gate is part of an Eastern Rite monastery.

Once widely known as _Yerushalayim De Lita_ (the "Jerusalem of Lithuania"), Vilnius
Vilnius
since the 18th century, was a world centre for the study of the Torah
Torah
, and had a large Jewish population. A major scholar of Judaism and Kabbalah
Kabbalah
centred in Vilnius
Vilnius
was the famous Rabbi Eliyahu Kremer, also known as the Vilna Gaon . His students have significant influence among Orthodox Jews in Israel and around the globe. Jewish life in Vilnius
Vilnius
was destroyed during the Holocaust; there is a memorial stone dedicated to victims of Nazi genocide located in the centre of the former Jewish Ghetto
Ghetto
— now Mėsinių Street. The Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum is dedicated to the history of Lithuanian Jewish life. The exact location of Vilnius' largest synagogue , built in the early 1630s and wrecked by Nazi Germany during its occupation of Lithuania
Lithuania
, was pinpointed by ground-penetrating radar in June 2015, with excavations set to begin in 2016.

The Karaim are a Jewish sect who migrated to Lithuania
Lithuania
from the Crimea to serve as a military elite unit in the 14th century. Although their numbers are very small, the Karaim are becoming more prominent since Lithuanian independence, and have restored their kenesa .

Vilnius
Vilnius
has been home to an Eastern Orthodox Christian presence since the 13th or even the 12th century. A famous Russian Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Spirit , is located near the Gate of Dawn
Gate of Dawn
. St. Paraskeva's Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church
in the Old Town is the site of the baptism of Hannibal , the great-grandfather of Pushkin , by Tsar
Tsar
Peter the Great in 1705. Many Old Believers , who split from the Russian Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church
in 1667, settled in Lithuania. The Church of St. Michael and St. Constantine was built in 1913. Today a Supreme Council of the Old Believers is based in Vilnius.

A number of Protestant and other Christian groups are represented in Vilnius, most notably the Lutheran Evangelicals and the Baptists
Baptists
.

The pre-Christian religion of Lithuania, centred on the forces of nature as personified by deities such as Perkūnas (the Thunder God), is experiencing some increased interest. Romuva established a Vilnius branch in 1991.

PARKS, SQUARES AND CEMETERIES

Singing fountain in Bernardinai Garden

Almost half of Vilnius
Vilnius
is covered by green areas, such as parks, public gardens, natural reserves. Additionally, Vilnius
Vilnius
is host to numerous lakes, where residents and visitors swim and have barbecues in the summer. Thirty lakes and 16 rivers cover 2.1% of Vilnius' area, with some of them having sand beaches.

Vingis Park , the city's largest, hosted several major rallies during Lithuania's drive towards independence in the 1980s. Concerts, festivals, and exhibitions are held at Bernardinai Garden , near Gediminas
Gediminas
Tower . Sections of the annual Vilnius Marathon pass along the public walkways on the banks of the Neris River. The green area next to the White Bridge is another popular area to enjoy good weather, and has become venue for several music and large screen events. Three Crosses in Kalnai Park

Cathedral Square in Old Town is surrounded by a number of the city's most historically significant sites. Lukiškės Square is the largest, bordered by several governmental buildings: the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs , the Ministry of Finance , the Polish Embassy, and the Genocide Victims\' Museum , where the KGB
KGB
tortured and murdered numerous opposers of the communist regime. An oversized statue of Lenin in its centre was removed in 1991. Town Hall Square has long been a centre of trade fairs, celebrations, and events in Vilnius, including the Kaziukas Fair . The city Christmas tree is decorated there. State ceremonies are often held in Daukantas Square , facing the Presidential Palace .

Rasos Cemetery , consecrated in 1801, is the burial site of Jonas Basanavičius and other signatories of the 1918 Act of Independence , along with the heart of Polish leader Józef Piłsudski
Józef Piłsudski
. Two of the three Jewish cemeteries in Vilnius
Vilnius
were destroyed during the Soviet era; the remains of the Vilna Gaon were moved to the remaining one. A monument was erected at the place where Užupis Old Jewish Cemetery was. On 23 October 2011, a swastika has been sprayed on the monument, as what seems to be an anti-Semitic act. About 18,000 burials have been made in the Bernardine Cemetery , established in 1810; it was closed during the 1970s and is now being restored. Antakalnis Cemetery , established in 1809, contains various memorials to Polish, Lithuanian, German and Russian soldiers, along with the graves of those who were killed during the January Events .

On 20 October 2013, Bernardinai garden , previously known as Sereikiškės Park, was opened after reconstruction. The authentic 19th-century Vladislovas Štrausas environment was restored.

SPORT

Siemens Arena

Several teams are based in the city. The largest is the basketball club BC Lietuvos Rytas , which participates in European competitions such as the Euroleague and Eurocup , the domestic Lithuanian Basketball League , winning the ULEB Cup (predecessor to the Eurocup) in 2005 and the Eurocup in 2009 . Its home arena is the 2,500-seat Lietuvos Rytas Arena ; all European matches and important domestic matches are played in the 11,000-seat Siemens Arena .

Vilnius
Vilnius
also has several football teams. FK Žalgiris is the main football team. The club plays at LFF Stadium in Vilnius
Vilnius
(capacity 5,067).

Olympic champions in swimming Lina Kačiušytė and Robertas Žulpa are from Vilnius. There are several public swimming pools in Vilnius with Lazdynai Swimming Pool being the only Olympic-size swimming pool of the city.

The city is home to the Lithuanian Bandy
Bandy
Association, Badminton Federation, Canoeing Sports Federation, Baseball Association, Biathlon Federation, Sailors Union, Football Federation, Fencing Federation, Cycling Sports Federation, Archery Federation, Athletics Federation, Ice Hockey Federation, Basketball Federation, Curling Federation, Rowing Federation, Wrestling Federation, Speed Skating Association, Gymnastics Federation, Equestrian Union, Modern Pentathlon Federation, Shooting Union, Triathlon Federation, Volleyball Federation, Tennis Union, Taekwondo Federation, Weightlifting Federation, Table Tennis Association, Skiing Association, Rugby Federation, Swimming Federation.

TRANSPORT

Vilnius International Airport entrance

Navigability of the river Neris is very limited and no regular water routes exist, although it was used for navigation in the past. The river rises in Belarus, connecting Vilnius
Vilnius
and Kernavė , and becomes a tributary of Nemunas river in Kaunas .

Vilnius Airport serves most Lithuanian international flights to many major European destinations. Currently, the airport has about 50 destinations in about 25 different countries. The airport is situated only 5 km (3.1 mi) away from the centre of the city, and has a direct rail link to Vilnius railway station .

The Vilnius railway station is an important hub serving direct passenger connections to Minsk
Minsk
, Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad
, Moscow
Moscow
and Saint Petersburg as well as being a transit point of Pan-European Corridor IX .

Vilnius
Vilnius
is the starting point of the A1 motorway that runs across Lithuania
Lithuania
and connects the three major cities (Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda) and is a part of European route E85 . The A2 motorway, connecting Vilnius
Vilnius
with Panevėžys, is a part of E272 . Other highways starting in Vilnius
Vilnius
include A3 , A4 , A14 , A15 , A16 . Vilnius' Southern bypass is road A19 .

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Solaris Trollino 15AC trolleybus in Vilnius
Vilnius
Orange bikes, available for renting Vilnius
Vilnius
Railway Station entrance Vilnius
Vilnius
Railway Station

Vilnius
Vilnius
has a well-developed public transportation system; 45% of the population take public transport to work, one of the highest figures in all of Europe. The bus network and the trolleybus network are run by Vilniaus viešasis transportas . There are over 60 bus, 18 trolleybus, 6 rapid bus and 6 night bus routes. The trolleybus network is one of the most extensive in Europe. Over 250 buses and 260 trolleybuses transport about 500,000 passengers every workday. Students, elderly, and the disabled receive large discounts (up to 80%) on the tickets. The first regular bus routes were established in 1926, and the first trolleybuses were introduced in 1956.

At the end of 2007, a new electronic monthly ticket system was introduced. It was possible to buy an electronic card in shops and newspaper stands and have it credited with an appropriate amount of money. The monthly e-ticket cards could be bought once and credited with an appropriate amount of money in various ways including the Internet. Previous paper monthly tickets were in use until August 2008.

The ticket system changed again from 15 August 2012. E-Cards were replaced by Vilnius
Vilnius
Citizen Cards ("Vilniečio Kortelė"). It is now possible to buy a card or change an old one in newspaper stands and have it credited with an appropriate amount of money or a particular type of ticket. Single trip tickets have been replaced by 30 and 60-minute tickets.

The public transportation system is dominated by the low-floor Volvo and Mercedes-Benz buses as well as Solaris trolleybuses. There are also plenty of the traditional Škoda vehicles, built in the Czech Republic, still in service, and many of these have been extensively refurbished internally. This is a result of major improvements that started in 2003 when the first brand-new Mercedes-Benz buses were bought. In 2004, a contract was signed with Volvo Buses to buy 90 brand-new 7700 buses over the following three years.

An electric tram and a metro system through the city were proposed in the 2000s. However, neither has progressed beyond initial planning.

GOVERNANCE

Vilnius
Vilnius
during the winter period

MUNICIPAL COUNCIL

Vilnius City Municipality is one of 60 municipalities of Lithuania and includes the nearby town of Grigiškės , three villages, and some rural areas. The town of Grigiškės was separated from the Trakai District Municipality and attached to the Vilnius City Municipality in 2000.

A 51-member council is elected to four-year terms; the candidates are nominated by registered political parties. As of the 2011 elections, independent candidates also were permitted. The last election was held in March 2015. The results are:

* Liberal Movement – 15 seats * The coalition of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania
Lithuania
and Lithuanian Russian Union – 10 * Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats – 8 * Lithuanian Freedom Union (Liberals) – 6 * Social Democratic Party of Lithuania
Lithuania
– 4 * Lithuanian List – 4 * Order and Justice – 3

MAYORS

Before 2015, mayors were appointed by the council. Starting with the elections in 2015, the mayors are elected directly by the residents. Remigijus Šimašius became the first directly elected mayor of the city.

* 1990 – Arūnas Grumadas (the president of council) * 1993 – Valentinas Šapalas (the president of council) * 1995 – Alis Vidūnas * 1997 – Rolandas Paksas * 1999 – Juozas Imbrasas * 2000 – Rolandas Paksas (2nd time) * 2001 – Artūras Zuokas * 2003 – Gediminas
Gediminas
Paviržis * 2003 – Artūras Zuokas (2nd time) * 2007 – Juozas Imbrasas (2nd time) * 2009 – Vilius Navickas * 2010 – Raimundas Alekna * 2011 – Artūras Zuokas (3rd time) * 2015 – Remigijus Šimašius

SUBDIVISIONS

Elderships , a statewide administrative division, function as municipal districts. The 21 elderships are based on neighbourhoods: Map of Vilnius
Vilnius
elderships. Numbers on the map correspond with numbers in the list

* Verkiai — includes Baltupiai, Jeruzalė, Santariškės, Balsiai, Visoriai * Antakalnis — includes Valakampiai, Turniškės, Dvarčionys * Pašilaičiai — includes Tarandė * Fabijoniškės — includes Bajorai * Pilaitė * Justiniškės * Viršuliškės * Šeškinė * Šnipiškės * Žirmūnai — includes Šiaurės miestelis * Karoliniškės * Žvėrynas * Grigiškės — a separate town * Lazdynai * Vilkpėdė — includes Vingis Park * Naujamiestis — includes bus and train stations * Senamiestis (Old Town) — includes Užupis * Naujoji Vilnia — includes Pavilnys, Pūčkoriai * Paneriai — includes Trakų Vokė, Gariūnai * Naujininkai — includes Kirtimai, Salininkai, Vilnius International Airport * Rasos — includes Belmontas, Markučiai

TWIN TOWNS – SISTER CITIES

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Lithuania
Lithuania
Traditional street fair Kaziuko mugė

Vilnius
Vilnius
is twinned with:

* _ Aalborg
Aalborg
, Denmark
Denmark
* Almaty , Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
* Astana
Astana
, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
* Brussels
Brussels
, Belgium
Belgium
* Budapest
Budapest
, Hungary
Hungary
* Chicago
Chicago
, United States
United States
* Chişinău , Moldova
Moldova
* Dnipro
Dnipro
, Ukraine
Ukraine
* Donetsk
Donetsk
, Ukraine
Ukraine
* Duisburg
Duisburg
, Germany
Germany
(since 1985)_ * _ Edinburgh
Edinburgh
, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
* Erfurt
Erfurt
, Germany
Germany
* Gdańsk
Gdańsk
, Poland
Poland
(since 1998)_ * Guangzhou
Guangzhou
, China
China

* Joensuu , Finland
Finland
* Kiev
Kiev
, Ukraine
Ukraine
* Kraków , Poland
Poland
* Łódź , Poland
Poland
* Lviv
Lviv
, Ukraine
Ukraine
* Madison, Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin
, United States
United States
* Minsk
Minsk
, Belarus
Belarus
* Moscow
Moscow
, Russia
Russia
* Oslo
Oslo
, Norway
Norway
* Pavia
Pavia
, Italy
Italy
* Piraeus
Piraeus
, Greece
Greece

* Reykjavík , Iceland
Iceland
* Riga
Riga
, Latvia
Latvia
* Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
, Russia
Russia
* Salzburg
Salzburg
, Austria
Austria
* Stockholm
Stockholm
, Sweden
Sweden
* Strasbourg
Strasbourg
, France
France
* Taipei
Taipei
, Taiwan
Taiwan
* Tallinn
Tallinn
, Estonia
Estonia
* Tbilisi
Tbilisi
, Georgia * Warsaw
Warsaw
, Poland
Poland

SIGNIFICANT DEPICTIONS IN POPULAR CULTURE

* Vilnius
Vilnius
is mentioned in the movie _The Hunt For Red October _ (1990) as being the boyhood home of the sub commander Marko Ramius, and as being where his grandfather taught him to fish; he is also referenced once in the movie as "The Vilnius
Vilnius
Schoolmaster". Ramius is played by Sean Connery . * Author Thomas Harris ' character Hannibal Lecter is revealed to be from Vilnius
Vilnius
and its aristocracy in the movie _ Hannibal Rising _. Lecter is portrayed more popularly and often by Sir Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins
, although Brian Cox played Lecter in the movie _Manhunter _. * The memoir, _A Partisan from Vilna_ (2010), details the life and struggles of Rachel Margolis. Her family's sole survivor, she escaped from the Vilna Ghetto
Ghetto
with other members of the resistance movement, the FPO ( United Partisan Organization ), and joined the Soviet partisans in the Lithuanian forests to sabotage the Nazis. * Vilnius
Vilnius
is classified as a city-state in the turn-based strategy game Civilization V .

NOTABLE PEOPLE

Main article: List of people from Vilnius

SEE ALSO

* Lithuania
Lithuania
portal

* Archdiocese of Vilnius
Vilnius
* Coat of arms of Vilnius * List of monuments in Vilnius * List of Vilnians * List of Vilnius
Vilnius
Elderships in other languages * Neighborhoods of Vilnius * Vilna Ghetto
Ghetto

Daylight panorama of the modern city of Vilnius
Vilnius

REFERENCES

* ^ Widespread nickname of Vilnius, that appeared because of a strong Litvak community. Today it is used primarily speaking about the past of the Jewish community of Vilnius, e.g. A book "Vilnius, in search of Jerusalem of Lithuania". * ^ Widespread use of the nickname from the XVI c. to this day as a reference to the many Catholic churches and monasteries in Vilnius
Vilnius
and overall religious atmosphere in the centre. This nickname was/is used not only by the foreigners, but also by the local population, e.g. Lithuanian cultural figure of the XIX c. Dionizas Poška nicknamed Vilnius
Vilnius
" Rome
Rome
of the North", as, according to him, Vilnius
Vilnius
is "the old religious center, that transformed from a pagan city into the bastion of Christianity". D. Poška, ‘Raštai’, Vilnius, 1959, p. 67 * ^ Cultural newspaper, that is published in Vilnius
Vilnius
from 1990, is named „Šiaurės Atėnai“ (The Athens
Athens
of the North) as a reference to one of the nicknames of Vilnius, that was widespread nickname of the city, esp. in the first half of the XIX c. and the first half of the XX c. mostly because of Vilnius University
Vilnius University
. During the interwar period, Polish scientific newspaper, published in Vilnius, was also named "Atheneum Wileńskie". * ^ Esp. in the 16th–17th centuries, Vilnius
Vilnius
was referred to as the ‘New Babylon’ because of many languages, spoken in the city as well as many religions presented (there were various Christian communities as well as Jews and even Muslim Tatar community). E.g.: S. Bodniak, ‘Polska w relacji włoskiej z roku 1604’, Pamiętnik biblioteki kórnickiej, 2, (Kórnik, 1930), p. 37. * ^ This nickname was very popular among the Lithuanian nobility , citizens of Vilnius
Vilnius
and used among the poets, esp. during the Baroque period. Many poets of the period, including Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski , nicknamed Vilnius
Vilnius
"the capital of Palemon" or "the city of Palemon". Živilė Nedzinskaitė, Vilnius
Vilnius
XVII-XVIII a. LDK lotyniškojoje poezijoje, Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, Vilnius, 2010, p. 16; Eugenija Ulčinaitė, Motiejus Kazimieras Sarbievijus: Antikos ir krikščionybės sintezė; Vilniaus pasveikinimas, Lietuvių literatūros ir tautosakos institutas, Vilnius, 2001, p. 47, 59, 61, 63; etc. * ^ "Most popular - OSP". * ^ http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=urb_lpop1&lang=en * ^ osp.stat.gov.lt * ^ _A_ _B_ "Statistinių rodiklių analizė - OSP". * ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-01. average EUR/ USD
USD
ex. rate in 2015 * ^ "Pradžia - OSP". * ^ "Portrait of the Regions of Lithuania
Lithuania
Vilnius
Vilnius
city municipality". Department of Statistics. Retrieved 1 August 2015. * ^ Лавринец, Павел (20 October 2004). _Русская Вильна_: идея и формула. _Балканская Русистика_ (IN RUSSIAN). Вильнюс. RETRIEVED 18 AUGUST 2009. * ^ Васютинский, А.М.; Дживелегов, А.К.; Мельгунов, С.П. (1912). "Фон Зукков, По дороге в Вильно". Французы в России. 1812 г. По воспоминаниям современников-иностранцев. (IN RUSSIAN). 1–3. Москва: "Задруга". Retrieved 18 August 2009. * ^ Rowell, Stephen Christopher (2003). _Chartularium Lithuaniae res gestas magni ducis Gedeminne illustrans – Gedimino laiškai_ (PDF). Vilnius: Leidykla Vaga. Retrieved 7 June 2017. * ^ " Vilnius
Vilnius
legend". Municipality of Vilnius. Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Laimonas Briedis (2008). _Vilnius: City of Strangers_. Baltos Lankos . ISBN 978-9955-23-160-8 . * ^ Piotr S. Wandycz, The lands of partitioned Poland, 1795–1918, University of Washington Press, 1974, p. 166. * ^ Egidijus Aleksandravičius, Antanas Kulakauskas; _Carų valdžioje: Lietuva XIX amžiuje_ (" Lithuania
Lithuania
under the reign of Czars in 19th century"); Baltos lankos, Vilnius
Vilnius
1996. Polish translation: _Pod władzą carów: Litwa w XIX wieku_, Universitas, Kraków 2003, page 90, ISBN 83-7052-543-1 * ^ Dirk Hoerder, Inge Blank, Horst Rössler, "Roots of the transplanted", East European Monographs, 1994, pg. 69 * ^ Joshua D. Zimmerman, _Poles, Jews, and the politics of nationality_, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2004, ISBN 0-299-19464-7 , Google Print, p. 16 * ^ "A 1909 official count of the city found 205,250 inhabitants, of whom 1.2 percent were Lithuanian; 20.7 percent Russian; 37.8 percent Polish; and 36.8 percent Jewish. — Timothy Snyder , _The Reconstruction of Nations. Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus 1569–1999_. Yale University Press 2003, p. 306. * ^ Łossowski, Piotr (1995). _Konflikt polsko-litewski 1918–1920_ (in Polish). Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza. pp. 126–128. ISBN 83-05-12769-9 . * ^ Rawi Abdelal (2001). _National Purpose in the World Economy: Post-Soviet States in Comparative Perspective_. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-8977-8 . At the same time, Poland
Poland
acceded to Lithuanian authority over Vilnius
Vilnius
in the 1920 Suwałki Agreement. * ^ Glanville Price (1998). _Encyclopedia of the Languages of Europe_. Blackwell Publishing . ISBN 978-0-8014-8977-8 . In 1920, Poland
Poland
annexed a third of Lithuania's territory (including the capital, Vilnius) in a breach of the Treaty of Suvalkai of 7 October 1920, and it was only in 1939 that Lithuania
Lithuania
regained Vilnius
Vilnius
and about a quarter of the territory previously occupied by Poland. * ^ Smith, David James; Pabriks, Artis; Purs, Aldis; Lane, Thomas (2002). _The Baltic States_. Routledge . ISBN 978-0-415-28580-3 . Fighting continued until the agreement at Suwałki between Lithuania and Poland
Poland
on 7 October 1920, which drew a line of demarcation which was incomplete but indicated that the Vilnius
Vilnius
area would be part of Lithuania
Lithuania
* ^ Eudin, Xenia Joukoff; Fisher, Harold H.; Jones, Rosemary Brown (1957). _Soviet Russia
Russia
and the West, 1920–1927_. Stanford University . ISBN 978-0-8047-0478-6 . The League effected an armistice, signed at Suwałki, 7 October 1920, by the terms of which the city was to remain under Lithuanian jurisdiction. * ^ Eidintas, Alfonsas ; Tuskenis, Edvardas; Zalys, Vytautas (1999). _ Lithuania
Lithuania
in European Politics_. Macmillan . ISBN 978-0-312-22458-5 . The Lithuanians and the Poles signed an agreement at Suwałki on 7 October. Both sides were to cease hostilities and to peacefully settle all disputes. The demarcation line was extended only in the southern part of the front, to Bastunai. Vilnius
Vilnius
was thus left on the Lithuanian side, but its security was not guaranteed. * ^ Hirsz Abramowicz; Dobkin, Eva Zeitlin; Shandler, Jeffrey; Fishman, David E. (1999). _Profiles of a Lost World: Memoirs of East European Jewish Life Before World War II_. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8143-2784-5 . Before long there was a change of authority: Polish legionnaires under the command of General Lucian Zeligowski 'did not agree' with the peace treaty signed with Lithuania in Suwałki, which ceded Vilna to Lithuania. * ^ Michael Brecher; Jonathan Wilkenfeld (1997). _A Study of Crisis_. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-10806-0 . Mediation by the League Council led to an agreement on the 20th providing for a cease-fire and Lithuania's neutrality in the Polish–Russian War; Vilna remained part of Lithuania. The (abortive) Treaty of Suwałki, incorporating these terms, was signed on 7 October. * ^ Raymond Leslie Buell (2007). _ Poland
Poland
– Key to Europe_. Alfred Knopf , republished by Read Books. ISBN 978-1-4067-4564-1 . Clashes subsequently took place with Polish troops, leading to the armistice at Suwałki in October 1920 and the drawing of the famous Curzon Line under League mediation, which allotted Vilna to Lithuania. * ^ George Slocombe (1970). _Mirror to Geneva_. Ayer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8369-1852-6 . Zeligowski seized the city in October, 1920, in flagrant violation not only of the Treaty of Suwałki signed by Poland
Poland
and Lithuania
Lithuania
two days earlier, but also of the covenant of the newly created League of Nations. * ^ Müller, Jan-Werner (2002). _Memory and Power in Post-War Europe: Studies in the Presence of the Past_. Cambridge University Press. p. 47. ISBN 9780521000703 . * ^ Gross, Jan Tomasz (2002). _Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine
Ukraine
and Western Belorussia_. Princeton University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-6910-9603-2 . * ^ Ewelina Tylińska. "The revival of the Vilnius University
Vilnius University
in 1919: Historical conditions and importance for Polish science". _The Global and the Local: The History of Science and the Cultural Integration of Europe_. Proceedings of the 2nd ICESHS (Cracow, Poland, September 6–9, 2006)/Ed. by M. Kokowski. p. 896. * ^ Josef Krauski, _Education as Resistance: The Polish Experience of Schooling During the War_, in Roy Lowe, _Education and the Second World War : studies in schooling and social change_, Falmer Press, 1992, ISBN 0-7507-0054-8 , Google Print, p. 130 * ^ Snyder, Timothy (2003). _The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999_. Yale University Press. p. 83. ISBN 9780300128413 . * ^ Yitzhak Arad , _ Encyclopedia of the Holocaust _, vol. 4, p. 1572 * ^ Tourism, Vilnius
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Municipal Portal. Archived from the original on 24 July 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013. * ^ "TREND: Tbilisi, Vilnius
Vilnius
become brother cities". en.trend.az. Retrieved 12 October 2009. * ^ "Miasta partnerskie Warszawy". _um.warszawa.pl_. Biuro Promocji Miasta. 4 May 2005. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 29 August 2008. * ^ Margolis, Rachel (1 April 2010). _A Partisan from Vilna_. Academic Studies Press. ISBN 9781934843956 .

EXTERNAL LINKS

_ Wikimedia Commons has media related to VILNIUS _.

* _ Vilnius
Vilnius
travel guide from Wikivoyage * Official website (in Lithuanian) (in Polish) (in English) (in Russian) * The Jerusalem of Lithuania: The Story of the Jewish Community of Vilna an online exhibition by Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
* Vilnius
Vilnius
from bird flight * Comprehensive photo gallery of Vilnius
Vilnius
by Baltic Reports editor * Video preview of Vilnius
Vilnius
Capital of Culture * Virtual Historical Vilnius * Public transportation schedules and timetables in Vilnius * Erasmus in Vilnius
Vilnius
and info

ARTICLES RELATED TO VILNIUS

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Elderships of Vilnius
Vilnius

* Antakalnis * Fabijoniškės * Grigiškės * Justiniškės * Karoliniškės * Lazdynai * Naujamiestis * Naujininkai * Naujoji Vilnia * Paneriai (Žemieji, Aukštieji) * Pašilaičiai * Pilaitė * Rasos * Senamiestis * Šeškinė * Šnipiškės * Verkiai * Vilkpėdė * Viršuliškės * Žirmūnai *

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