Vilnius University (Vilniaus Universitetas)
The Vilnius University (Vilniaus Universitetas) grounds serve as a rich architectural document of the university's history over centuries. You can stroll 13 different courtyards, admire Baroque, neoclassical, and Renaissance-styled buildings, and visit the country's oldest public library. The historic complex—known as the Vilnius University Architectural Ensemble—is open to the public all year round.
You pay a nominal fee if you want to explore on your own, while Vilnius bike tours, sightseeing tours, and private walking tours typically visit the university. Official guided tours are best if you want increased access to the library, Rector's Hall, and the Faculty of Philology. Beyond the architecture, you shouldn't miss St. John‘s Church. After paying a small fee to enter, you get a convenient elevator ride up the tower for outrageous views.
Things to know before you go
- Astronomy fans shouldn't miss Vilnius University Library's White Hall, which features an exhibit on telescopes and equipment from the old Observatory.
- Kids, students, and seniors enjoy discounted entry to the St. Johns' Church Bell Tower.
- Guided tours of the library must be booked in advance.
How to get there
If you're not joining for a tour, your best bet is to take advantage of Vilnius' extensive public transit system and hop on the bus or trolleybus to Vilnius University. The 10, 33, and 89 busses all stop nearby. The Dailės Akademija stop is conveniently situated just east of the university.
When to get there
The university is open to the public all year, with limited winter hours, and seasonal closings during major holidays. Visit when the skies are clear if you want to admire the citywide views from St. John‘s Church, which is open May through September, or stop by in the winter months to enjoy a charming dusting of snow on campus.
Uncovering the History of Vilnius University
The university opened its doors in 1579, and over centuries was run by the Jesuits, became secular, was closed by Tsar Nicholas I, and adapted to the Soviet model. Despite this tumultuous history, the historic core of the university remains standing. To uncover its history, you should walk through the Grand Courtyard, visit the zodiac-adorned facade of the old Astronomical Observatory, and admire the vaulted frescoes in the Littera bookshop.
- Presidential Palace
- Amber Museum-Gallery (Gintaro Muziejus-Galerija)
- Money Museum (Pinigu Muziejaus)
- Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (National Museum)
- Bernardine Church (Bernardinu Parapija)
- St. Anne's Church
- Vilnius Cathedral (Arkikatedra Bazilika)
- Vilnil Museum of Illusions
- Gediminas Castle Tower (Gedimino Pilies Bokstas)
- National Museum of Lithuania, New Arsenal
- Subacius Hill
- Bastion of the Vilnius Defensive Wall (Vilniaus Gynybines Sienos Basteja)
- Church of the Holy Spirit (Sventosios Dvasios Baznycia)
- Gate of Dawn (Ausros Vartai)