Welcome to Vilnius
The capital may be a long way north and east, but it’s quintessentially continental, with Europe’s largest baroque old town at its heart. Viewed from a hot air balloon, the skyline – pierced by countless Orthodox and Catholic church steeples – looks like a giant bed of nails. Adding to this heady mix is a combination of cobbled alleys, crumbling corners, majestic hilltop views, breakaway states and traditional artists’ workshops – all in a city so small you’d sometimes think it was a village.
It has not always been so happy here, though. There are reminders of loss and pain too, from the horror of the KGB’s torture cells to the ghettos where the Jewish community was concentrated before being murdered by the Nazis. Yet the spirit of freedom and resistance has prevailed, and the city is forging a new identity, combining the past with a present and future that involves world cuisine, a burgeoning nightlife and shiny new skyscrapers.