Vilnius, Lithuania


According to abbreviationfinder, Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, 80–220 m above sea level, extends over around 400 km 2 in the floodplain and on the terraces of the Neris, at whose confluence with the Vilnia, (2020) 551,000 residents, 63% of the residents are Lithuanians, almost a fifth are Poles and around 12% are Russians.

Vilnius is the country’s political, economic, cultural and religious center with the seat of a Catholic and a Russian Orthodox archbishop. The most important educational institutions are the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences (founded in 1941), University (founded in 1579), Technical University, Pedagogical University, European University for Humanitarian Studies (Belarusian university in exile, in Vilnius since 2005) and other universities (including the Academy of Music and Art). As a cultural center, Vilnius is home to the State Library, several theaters (especially the Opera and Drama Theater), the Philharmonic, the National Museum of State and Cultural History (in the new Arsenal, 16th century), and the National Gallery of Modern Art (opened in 2009, in the former Museum of the Socialist Revolution built in 1980),

Economy: Around a quarter of Lithuania’s industrial production is concentrated in the greater Vilnius area. Important industrial sectors are machine, device and tool construction, electrotechnical / electronic, textile, clothing, shoe, furniture and food industries as well as communication technology, graphics and publishing. During the 1990s there was a major structural change with rapid development of the service sector, particularly commerce, finance and business-oriented services. In Vilnius, most of the foreign direct investment was made in Lithuania, of which the service sector accounted for more than 80%. Vilnius is an important trade center (trade fair city) and a transport hub with an international airport.


The old town of Vilnius (UNESCO World Heritage Site) with partially preserved wall ring from 1503-22 contains the former castle territory with remains of the Upper Castle (14th / 15th century) and the Old (Lower) Castle with the Gediminturm (originally 13th century, later changed; in 20th century restored), as well as numerous important buildings from different epochs. These include several late Gothic brick churches (Nikolauskirche, begun before 1387) and the Gothic ensemble (15th and 16th centuries) with the Bernardine monastery and St. Anne’s Church. After a fire in the 17th century, numerous baroque churches were rebuilt (Kasimirkirche, Peter-und-Paul-Kirche, Sankt Teresa, Heiliggeist-, Katharinen- und Allheiligenkirche) as well as aristocratic palaces. The buildings decorated with arcades (16th – 19th centuries) of the university (founded in 1570 as a Jesuit college, since 1579 university) are arranged around 13 closed courtyards. At the end of the 18th / beginning of the 19th century, the classicist buildings of the cathedral (1786–1801; on the site of previous buildings) and the town hall (1788–99, now an art museum) were built. Of the around 100 existing in 1941Only one synagogue remained. Many buildings were erected after the Second World War (Foreign Ministry, Opera House, Parliament Building, Exhibition Hall for Modern Art and the 326 m high television tower).

In 2013, the reconstruction of the Grand Prince’s Palace, which had been destroyed in the 19th century, was completed. Several high-rise buildings completed after Lithuania joined the EU in 2004, the new city administration, a shopping center and office buildings are grouped around Europaplatz, the new center of the city (overall planning: Audrius Ambrasas).


Around 1322/23 the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gedimin had the Vilnius Castle built on the Schlossberg as a new residence, next to which a merchant settlement developed. After the Lithuanian-Polish Union in 1387, this received Magdeburg law and became the seat of the first Lithuanian diocese. As a frequent residence (since 1387) of the Lithuanian grand dukes and Polish kings as well as an important trade and cultural center (1525 book printing, 1579 Jesuit college), the city experienced a heyday in the 16th century. With the 3rd division of Poland (1795) Vilnius came to Russia (governorate capital) and was a center of Polish intellectual life until 1832 (university closed); Occupied by German troops 1915-18. After changing rule between Bolshevik Russia and Poland, the latter occupied Vilnius and its surroundings on October 9, 1920 (Vilnius area ; Vilnius question). Until the Second World War, Vilnius was regarded as the center of traditional Jewish culture and literature (»Jerusalem of the East«). 1940–90 capital of the Lithuanian SSR, since 1990 Vilnius has been the capital of the Republic of Lithuania. – Alongside Linz (Austria), Vilnius was named European Capital of Culture 2009.

Soviet annexation, German occupation and the Lithuanian SSR (until 1990)

In June 1940, Lithuania was occupied by Soviet troops and, after the Lithuanian SSR was proclaimed (July 21, 1940), it was annexed to the USSR on August 3, 1940. As in the rest of the Baltic States, Soviet rule brought severe reprisals (first mass deportation on June 14, 1941). During the National Socialist occupation (1941–44) 95% of Lithuanian Jews (around 250,000 people in 1939) fell victim to the Holocaust; Locals were also involved in the executions. The advance of the Red Army in 1944 caused many Lithuanians to emigrate to the west. The particularly bitter partisan war (1944–53) cost around 60,000 lives. The planned industrialization of Lithuania began at the end of the 1950s. In 1972 it came after the self-immolation of the nineteen year old student Romas Kalanta (May 14th) in Kaunas to major unrest during which freedom for Lithuania was demanded.

The public protest in Lithuania under M. S. Gorbachev began on August 23, 1987 with a demonstration at the monument of the poet A. Mickiewicz in the old town of Vilnius.

On June 3, 1988, the Movement for the Reshaping of Lithuania (abbreviated: Sąjūdis) was founded, which soon set itself the goal of renewing state independence. In December 1989 the Lithuanian CP split from the CPSU (renamed the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party [LDPA] in 1990 and reoriented towards social democratic principles).

Vilnius, Lithuania