The plane has just landed and we’re going on a date… Where? To visit the most interesting monuments in Vilnius. Why? So that you’ll leave with a great lasting impression and find out things that you don’t know. Let’s go!
“You can’t be a real country unless you have your own airline and your own beer,” said the legendary 20th Century musician Frank Zappa, whose statue can be found at K. Kalinausko g. 1.
Thre’s an exact copy of it in Frank Zappa’s hometown of Baltimore in the U.S. One of the more interesting facts is that the one erected in Baltimore was done at the incentive of Lithuanians.
When Frank Zappa’s son came to visit Lithuania, he said,
“I think my Dad would have found this highly amusing. You can achieve a lot, but in order to be honored in your own hometown, you have to get a bunch of Lithuanians involved. Truly ironic.”
Thre’s a monument that features 20th Century writer Romain Gary (Romanas Kacewas) who spent his childhood in Vilnius and had a novel way of expressing his affections.
When he was nine years old, he tried to attract the attention of a little girl in the neighborhood whom he had a crush on by eating his shoe…
And there he continues to stand until today with a rubber boot pressed to his chest at the corner of J. Basanavičiaus and Mindaugo streets.
The young boy continued to come up with creative and original ideas as he grew up.
He gained fame not only through his creative work but also by being the only one to win the prestigious Prix Goncourt two times in a row: the first time in his own name and the second by using the pseudonym of Emile Ajar and thereby fooled even the best literary experts.
He probably laughed himself silly when reading reviews about himself that told him to be jealous of Emile, who achieved fame immediately after his fist publication.
Thre is a monument to Tsemach Shabad at the intersection of Mėsinių and Dysnos streets.
He was a Jewish physician with a heart of gold who was active in charities and inspired others to do the same.
T. Shabad was a real person on whom the famous “Doctor OwIt-Hurts” booked are based on.
The author of this story, Kornejus Čiukovskis, wrote in his memoirs,
“T. Shabad was the nicest man I ever met. He took care of children and poor people free. If a young sick girl would come to him, he would usually give her milk or food instead of medicine. The next day, you would see the same girl bringing her cat to the doctor and in a few more days there would be a crowd of children in front of his office.
Užupis angel and mermaid
Goodness and freedom complement each other in the self proclaimed independent republic of Užupis that is sometimes compared to the Montmartre area in Paris or Christiania in Copenhagen.
There are small and winding streets all along Užupis and you do feel as if you’ve wandered into a separate republic.
The “Užupis Angel” will embrace you with its wings spread wide and herald rebirth and resurrection through its brass trumpet.
The “Užupis Mermaid” sits nearby on the bank of the Vilnelė River and seems to be listening to the mesmerizing sounds of the angel’s trumpet melodies.
People say that she entices people to come to Užupis from all over the world with her charms and those who can’t resist just remain forever…
The freedom in Užupis that is also called the Vilnius Artists’ Mecca is a sample of Lithuanian creativity.
You don’t believe me? Take a walk down Literatų g. (street) where famed poet Adomas Mickevičius lived.
In 2008, one of the walls on this street was decorated with impressive works of art in many media, i.e. metal, wood, glass, ceramics, etc. that paid homage to literature.
The shining colors of the Lithuanian flag remind us of the day when the citizens of the three freedom starved Baltic States clasped hands to form a 600 kilometer long live chain of people that astounded the world with the unity of these small countries.
The 25,000 bricks used for the sculpture would be enough to build two houses.
An imprint of an unknown participant in the Baltic Way
Cathedral Square, which is the heart of Vilnius, also resonates with memories of The Baltic Way.
You can try to fit the soles of your feet into the mold, which contains an imprint of an unknown participant in the Baltic Way.
Vilnius presented two similar tiles with imprints to Riga and Tallinn.
Freedom allowed Lithuanians to become entrepreneurial. But, if you’ve run out of luck, you can always get some of your strength back by visiting a fun sculpture called “Lucky Belly” on Vilniaus g. dedicated to helping you be successful in business.
It’s said that if you rub the 40 cm. tummy, the muses of good luck will help you.
Signs of Vilnius
You can learn a bit about history by sailing down the Neris River and looking at the “Signs of Vilnius”.
There are stainless steel sculptures that can be seen under the Žirmūnų, Žaliojo, Baltojo, Geležinio Vilko, Žvėryno ir Liubarto bridges that signify important events in Lithuania.
Monument to Basketball
Lithuanian basketball players who are very successful, must have taken advantage of a bit of this good luck.
Lithuania is the land of basketball and that’s why the fist monument to basketball in Europe was erected in Vilnius on Ozo g. Almost 6 meters in height and weighing 30 tons, the sculpture consists of a large stainless steel mirrored ball held up on fie columns that look like a strong hand holding up a basketball.
Wings of Lituanica
“Wings of Lituanica” is a monument near the Energy and Technical Museum in memory of the legendary flght of Lithuanian-American pilots Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas across the Atlantic.
This year marks the 82th anniversary of one of the most technically proficient flights in world aviation history.
Almost eight meters high, the wing is propelled by the wind.
The artists who created this replica of one of Air Lituanica’s wings hope that the second one will make an appearance in New York.
But, while you’re in Vilnius, just open your eyes wide and get your fill of great impressions of the capital of Lithuania.
by Eglė Kairelytė