Image by Yuliya Papkova Five Hundred Pixels
Founded in 1579 during the Counter-Reformation, Vilnius University was run by Jesuits for two centuries and became one of the greatest centres of Polish learning. It produced many notable scholars but was closed by the Russians in 1832 and didn’t reopen until 1919. Today it has 23,000 students and Lithuania’s oldest library, shelving five million books (including one of two originals of The Catechism by Martynas Mažvydas, the first book ever published in Lithuanian).
The 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.