Vilnius Graveyards | True Lithuania
True Lithuania

Green Vilnius (Parks, Cemetaries, Beaches)

A 2009 survey recognized Vilnius as the greenest capital in Eastern Europe. Furthermore, Vilnius air is the cleanest among all European capital cities.

To achieve this Vilnius urban planners intentionally skipped many areas during the city expansion. These are named "parks" but with limited landscaping some of them are in fact urban forests. They are now popular for strolling, dogwalking, or enjoying a picnic.

The oldest of these pristine zones of Vilnius is right next to Cathedral and the Castle. Known as Sereikiškių Park and the Hill Park (Kalnų parkas) it includes multiple hills with good city views, among them the Pilies (Castle) Hill, the Hill of Three Crosses (Trijų kryžių) and the Gedimino kapo (Gediminas Grave) Hill.

Larger and equally popular is the 162 ha Vingis (Bend) park to the west of New Town, hugged from 3 sides by Neris river. A former nobility hunting ground it is now a major location for summer song festivals and also hosts a rugby stadium and a WW1 German cemetery amidst its greenery. Today Vingis park forms a part of north-to-south chain of green zones which separates pre-1940 Vilnius boroughs to the east from Soviet boroughs to the west. While Vingis park is developed, much of this "Green belt" is not and there are places where one may feel to be teleported to a countryside forest after walking merely several hundred meters from high-rise residentials.

A bit further from downtown the two regional parks within Vilnius city limits (Pavilnis and Verkiai) are much better for recreation as they host some impressive scenery (Pūčkoriai rock exposure), interwar military installations and 17th-19th century manors (see Suburbs of Vilnius).

People enjoying the views from the top of Pūčkoriai rock exposure at Pavilnis regional park. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The old cemetaries of Vilnius may compete with parks in their greenness but have a different aura. To contemplate you may visit the early 19th century hilly Rasos cemetery (Southern Vilnius) or the smaller Bernardinai cemetery in Užupis (Old Town). Both include elaborate tombstones and famous burials. Antakalnis cemetery (Antakalnis borough) is the burial place for 20th century celebrities, heroes and villains. If you prefer religious minorities there is an Old Believer cemetery in Southern Vilnius, Muslim cemeteries near mosques in southern Suburbs and a Jewish zone in Sudervė cemetery (Viršuliškės borough). Sadly many famous minority graveyards were razed by the Soviets, among them two Protestant and the main Jewish one. Under the Soviet rule the tradition to bury the dead along religious lines also faded and the modern graveyards accommodate people of all communities.

While swimming is not allowed in the city center, you may swim in Neris within city limits at the beaches of Valakupiai suburb north of Antakalnis. Other beaches are available at Balsiai suburb lakes. All of these are possible to access by Vilnius public buses.

Neris river beach at Valakupiai suburb. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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