“Despite wars, occupations and destruction, the architectural ensemble of Vilnius remains unique. A city lacking German or Scandinavian features, rather reminiscent of Prague or Rome, Vilnius differs greatly from the other Baltic capitals. It is the largest Baroque city north of the Alps, and the one farthest to the east. Yet, nearly all styles of European architecture from Gothic to Classicism are present in Vilnius. They used to reach Lithuania belatedly, but probably due to this reason their examples are particularly mature and flawless. Baroque domes and towers of Vilnius coexist with an irregular medieval city plan. The spirit of Rome in Vilnius merges with a mix of other cultural influences: the city has always contained a multitude of Russian Orthodox churches, synagogues and even mosques that sometimes imitated baroque, but more often clung to their own models.”
(Tomas Venclova, Vilnius. City Guide, R. Paknys Publishing House, 2004.)
Vilnius Old Town – the historical core of the capital, surrounded by woods, hills and valleys – emerged in the confluence of the River Neris and its tributary the River Vilnia. Through the centuries its urban texture, which reflects cultural identity of the local population, merged with the natural landscape. The city originated at the very point where both rivers joined. Large Baltic settlements could be found in this area as early
5th and 6th centuries.