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It is no wonder that Vilnius has become such a popular tourist destination in recent years for the simple reason that few people can resist its magical charms. The city is large enough to explore, but small enough not to get permanently lost in, Vilnius is an architectural dream come true, a city soaked in atmosphere, and alive with history.
Despite its reputation as a Baroque city, Vilnius is rich in other architectural forms. There are some stunning examples of classicism, eclecticism, brick gothic and art nouveau in the city centre, especially along the showcase Gedimino Avenue. The city abounds with quirky architectural flourishes, from mysterious masks to mischievous gargoyles. Quite simply, you just cannot take your eyes off the place.
Most of the buildings in Vilnius date from the periods immediately after the great fires of 1610, 1737, 1748 and 1749, when the city’s wooden buildings were done away with. Amazingly, however, the Old Town’s street structure is virtually unchanged since medieval times.
The best way to see Vilnius is on foot (just follow the cobblestone road). The city is also a dream for cyclists with clearly-marked cycle lanes covering virtually the entire city centre, and bringing all the city’s sights within easy reach.
There is, of course, much more to Vilnius than the Old Town. The city centre is filled with beautiful parks, and majestic buildings standing proudly atop steep, hilly streets. It is also a delight to walk along the banks of the river Neris as it serenely snakes its way through the city centre. The riverside path offers spectacular views of the Old Town on one side, and the imposing skyscrapers of the New District on the other.