The Historic Centre of Vilnius in Lithuania
We visited this wonderful town in the summer of 2013 and we stayed in a self catering accommodation right in the middle of the town (maybe 300 mtrs from the Cathedral). This is town flooded with (recent) history.
You can see the old castle, of which only a wall and a tower remain, which will give you excellent views over the old city. Down from the Castle you will find the Cathedral with the tile in front where the human chain from Vilnius to Riga to Tallinn started back in 1991 (when the world looked at the first war in Iraq!) as an opposition against the sovjet union. Victims of the uprising in januari 1991 are buried in the Antakalnis cemetery. You can find this just outside the city centre.
When taking the walk form the Cathedral to the south you will pass the wonderful buildings of the University, do visit these square / buildings and churches. If you walk on you will find the Gate of Dawn. The Chapel in the Gate of Dawn contains an icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy, said to have miraculous powers. For centuries the picture has been one of the symbols of the city and an object of veneration for both Roman Catholic and Orthodox inhabitants. You could end up finding pilgrims on their knees in the streets here.
Not far from here you can find the old bastion. A part of the old city wall which has been restored very fine. From here it is a small walk to Uzupis, an area of the town with it own constitution, laws, flags, currency etc. When passing a small bridge you will enter Uzupis. I was there early one morning and I didn't notice anything of the special atmosphere that should have been here. I read the constitution, written on plates on a wall and went on to the three crosses, another viewing point over the old city.
Just outside the centre there is a wonderful must see baroq church. The St Peter and St Paul Church. The richness of the baroque interior here is overwhelming and one of a kind.
The atmosphere in the town in very friendly, with a warm hospitality. As our knowledge of Lithuanian has room for improvement the language can be a bit of a problem, not many people speak English / French / German / Italian / Spanish or Dutch.
Not far from Vilnius in the direction of Minsk you can find a measuring point of the World Heritage Site Struve Geodetic Arc. You can find another Struve point in Lithuania north of Vilnius, not too far from Kernave (another WHS).
When we left Vilnius heading for Warschau we passed the castle of Trakai and Druskininkai, a small town with an open air museum with statues from the Sovjet era.