Gate of Dawn (Ausros Vartai)
Visitors flock to the Gate of Dawn and its Renaissance-style Chapel of Our Lady of the Dawn to visit the Madonna portrait, which you can find inside bejeweled and adorned with votives. Because of its Old Town location, the Gate of Dawn is a stop on most walking tours, bike tours, and private sightseeing excursions. You can attend mass at the chapel in Lithuanian and Polish, or just peek inside to see the numerous heart-shaped offerings.
Things to know before you go
- History fans shouldn't miss the Gate of Dawn, which was finished in 1522 and is still standing today.
- The Vilnius Madonna—in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Dawn—is one of the country's most-visited shrines.
- The Gate of Dawn is free to enter.
How to get there
Guided tours are the most convenient way to visit the Gate of Dawn, though several city buses also drop-off at the nearby Aušros Vartai stop. If you're interested in escaping the city, pair a visit to the gate with a day trip by train—or a multi-day tour to train-accessible cities like Minsk—since the sight is located about a 10-minute walk from the Vilnius train station.
When to get there
Since the church is a pilgrimage site and an active worship space, expect more crowding around religious holidays and holy days, when the streets surrounding the chapel are packed with worshipers. To see an annual religious event, visit on Palm Sunday, when vendors gather to sell palms before the blessing. If you prefer to avoid the crowds you should stop by during the week.
What to See in the Old Town
The Vilnius Historic Center—including the Gate of Dawn—is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Must-see attractions within walking distance include the 16th-century university complex, Vilnius Town Hall, Cathedral Square, and the former site of the Great Synagogue. Most walking tours, bike tours, and Segway tours include stops at these top sights and more.
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- Vilnius Old Town (Vilniaus Senamiestis)
- Church of the Holy Spirit (Sventosios Dvasios Baznycia)
- Bastion of the Vilnius Defensive Wall (Vilniaus Gynybines Sienos Basteja)
- Vilnil Museum of Illusions
- Vilnius University (Vilniaus Universitetas)
- Amber Museum-Gallery (Gintaro Muziejus-Galerija)
- St. Anne's Church
- Bernardine Church (Bernardinu Parapija)
- Presidential Palace
- Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (National Museum)
- Vilnius Cathedral (Arkikatedra Bazilika)
- Money Museum (Pinigu Muziejaus)
- Gediminas Castle Tower (Gedimino Pilies Bokstas)
- National Museum of Lithuania, New Arsenal