Don’t groan! I’ll try to be brief. I had some time to kill the other week so I decided to spend a couple of days of it in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania. I have no idea why I chose Vilnius; maybe I closed my eyes and landed my finger on a map of Europe. But it easily entertained a short trip. It’s a beautiful, if small, city with resplendent architecture from several periods and the colourful rendering typical of buildings in Central and Eastern Europe.
Most of the main points of interest were conveniently situated within walking distance of each other in the Old Town and the warren of narrow, cobbled streets were easy to navigate. The focal point of the city has to be the imposing Cathedral with its Bell Tower and statue of the Grand Duke Gediminas outside.
From here a walk up Pilles Street would become a detour down a small alley, finding my way to visual treats such as St Anne’s and Bernadine Church, a stunning example of both Flamboyant and Brick Gothic architectural styles. Back up Literatu Street, displaying artworks mounted on the walls, and around a corner to find the House of Signatories, where Lithuania’s Act Of Independence was signed.
The Presidential Palace was fairly ordinary but further down, past several more beautiful churches, is the Town Hall Square, and a short walk past that is the Gate Of Dawn, a city gate and one of the country’s most significant cultural, religious and historical monuments. It was rather moving to see a tough soldier walk through it, turn and cross himself and say a prayer. (I didn’t photograph him out of respect. And a fear of being shot.)
Great views of the city can be had from several viewpoints, the most popular of which is probably Gediminas Hill. Alas it was closed for renovation during my visit and so I soaked in the skyline under a slight haze from the Hill Of Three Crosses nearby.
Now, seldom does anyone have to remind Alpha Whiskey how important light is to an image. But in such a short visit I obviously had limited time and didn’t want to waste it waiting around for the sun to stretch its fingers over the horizon into a red-tinted sky. I visit these places primarily to experience and enjoy them. I just happen to have a camera with me. Having said that I managed to get some dusk shots along the River Neris behind Mindaugas Bridge, as well as at the Cathedral.
On my second and final day I took a short bus ride to Trakai, a small town outside Vilnius with an island castle. This was a worthy venue to spend a few hours engrossed in some fascinating history (I like history), as well as countless collections of artifacts. I’d definitely recommend putting your head in the stocks and letting an attractive young woman pelt you with stale vegetables. The things I do for my country… (She bought me coffee afterwards.)
Of course there is no shortage of museums to explore, and even catacombs within the Cathedral complex, but having limited time after returning from Trakai I visited only the Holocaust Exposition, a harrowing account of the brutal genocide committed against the majority of Lithuania’s Jewish community during the Second World War. (No photography was allowed at the Exposition so instead I’ve added an image below of the National Museum. At dusk. Because the flag unfurled.)
Seeking out authentic Lithuanian cuisine apparently meant a farmer’s meal of a lot of potatoes and dumplings accompanied by some smoked pork.
But the following evening a tasting menu and several courses at Dublis restaurant was a touch more sophisticated, with its small army of chefs preparing each dish in front of me.
Vilnius is an impressive little city, extremely clean and well kept, and presenting its aesthetic in an abundance of colour and style. One can easily navigate around its main sights in less than a day, even allowing for photography stops. With another day at Trakai I feel I have seen plenty and hopefully I have represented it well enough here. With lots of history, magnificent architecture, great food and beautiful women, Vilnius easily meets the Alpha Whiskey criteria.
All of these images were shot with the Olympus E-M5 and 12-40mm F/2.8. A couple were shot with the Samyang 7.5mm F/3.5 fisheye. They have been processed to my personal taste (i.e. my postcard style). A few more below and on my blog. Cheers.
A question about the second picture.
Why does a person does not reflect on the water? Photo touched or am I missing something? Thanks.
The reflection was captured on the wet surface of an elevated plinth some distance from the cathedral, not on the ground, and thus as the woman was some distance from the plinth she didn’t make it into the reflection.
Hope this helps :)
Very beautiful city. The photos are extra-ordinary captured actually at the best camera setup position. I look forward to shoot a cit photography one day. Good post man
Awesome pics…..feeling refreshing after seen..
As always, your photos are spectacular! I had mentioned this before, but my Latvian wife and I toured the Baltic Countries in 2012, so I had to take another look at my collection from Vilnius, and I can safely say that they’re not as good as yours. We concentrated on Latvia since my wife speaks fluent Latvian. Thanks for posting these.
I thought that I should comment here just in case you post them on MU43.
Thank you Don, I appreciate that.
I’ll put Latvia on my radar. I’m sure it’s beautiful :)
I’ve noticed that you often comment on the beautiful women that you observe in various countries. As such, you should ad a couple of extra blips to your radar. Without a question, and I’m not just prejudice because I’ve been married to a Latvian gal for 45 years, the ladies of Latvia are the most beautiful of the three countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. I know, beauty is in the eye of the …, but it’ true, IMHO, and this comment is very shallow. Tell me what you think when you return from that trip, Hurry though, before they get too old.
When Nasim was entertaining possible “guest posts,” I sent him a proposed post with images entitled, “The Ladies of Latvia.” Obviously, it didn’t make it to publication.
Been to Estonia and people are lovely there too. Just Latvia to go then…. :)
Really interesting and well-done photographs. Thank you. In the final scene from “The Hunt for Red October,” Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) and Captain Ramius (Sean Connery), who has defected to the USA, are on the deck of the submarine Ramius turned over to the USA. Ryan says something to the effect “I grew up around here. My grandfather took me to fish on that island right over there.” After some more conversation, Ramius says, “There is a river not unlike this one, near VILNIUS, where my grandfather taught me to fish.” For that reason alone your photographs of Vilnius were fascinating to me.
One of my favourite movies :)
Hi, Alpha. I’m a long time reader photographylife, but have yet to post a comment. I’m from Lithuania and I feel you did our capital city justice — always nice to see people interested, especially since your postcard posts are a true joy read and see.
Also, I personally apologize for the first of the two pictured — we don’t really eat that stuff, honest!
Thank you Tadas.
And no apology necessary. That food was fine! :)
Thanks sharif for a beautiful look into a beautiful city i plan to visit with my cousin. Next, i would love it if u visit rigga and show us some pictures of it. You compose beautifully. I too have been told great things about the baltic states and the women there:)
Truly outstanding images. From composition to execution. Really enjoyed the post.
But where’s the EXIF … ?
I hope you enjoyed the pinecones. They’re my specialty. ;)
Great shots! This looks like a beautiful city and your photos do it justice.
Very nice images!
The composition of these images is amazing.