IT'S TIME FOR VILNIUS
Known as ‘the city of 100 churches’ and for its weird Ramoska angel sculptures, Lithuania’s capital is as beautiful and cosmopolitan as it is downright odd.
And that’s the attraction…
The whole city’s a Baroque masterpiece (its got the largest Baroque Old Town in Europe) with wriggling cobbled streets and a skyline spiked with church steeples.
But then there’s Užupis, the self-proclaimed free state (arty suburb) giving Soviet conformity the finger.
A bohemian utopia sprouting with artist’s workshops, micro-breweries and philosophical cafes, they even have their own constitution...
Article 13: “A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need”. And things of a similar nature...
You’ll find all sorts in Užupis but make sure to spot some of the most interesting and elaborate street art in Europe.
And you’ve gotta stop into Šnekutis Restaurant for home-brewed beer and pig ears. Yumma.
You’ll meet Valentas, the eccentric brewmaster who’ll tell you the difference between the hoppy Pakruojiečių or the bitter Biržiečių.
You might not guess it from the pop-up hookah bars and rooftop garden parties but Vilnius is still getting over its dark Nazi-Soviet past.
Head to the Museum of Genocide Victims. The former headquarters of the KGB (also of the Gestapo, Polish occupiers and Tsarist judiciary) is now dedicated to the thousands of Lithuanians who were murdered and imprisoned by the Soviet Union til the 1960s. Not fun but important.
The locals celebrated their independence by building pop-culture statues (oh hey Frank Zappa) and converting warehouses into music and art factories like Loftas.
Vilnius is Eastern Europe’s underdog. Go now before the Stag parties catch on.