This palace of incredible dimensions rose from the ashes in 2009 to mark the millennium anniversary of the first mention of Lithuania in writing.
Vilnius was founded on 48m-high Gediminas Hill, topped since the 13th century by Gedimino Tower. Its walls were ruined during the Russian occupation (1655-61), but it was restored in 1930 to house the Upper Castle Museum.
This national symbol occupies the same spot that was originally used for the worship of Perkūnas, the Lithuanian thunder god; later the Soviets turned the cathedral into a picture gallery. It was reconsecrated in 1989 and mass has been celebrated daily ever since.
The world is full of places that are often tacky, sometimes weird and almost always in slightly dubious taste.
Memorabilia from stage and screen is the star of this museum. Of the three arts, the musical history section steals the show – the collection of traditional musical instruments, including a pūslinė (a primitive Baltic string instrument made from animal bladders) and several kanklės (plucked, fretted string instruments), will enchant anyone who has ever picked up an instrument.
It’s hard to miss the 326m TV tower on the city’s western horizon. This tall needle symbolises Lithuania’s strength of spirit; on 13 January 1991, Soviet special forces killed some 14 people here. Lithuanian TV kept broadcasting until the troops came through the tower door. Wooden crosses commemorate the victims and on 13 January hundreds of people light candles here. At Christmas 6000-odd fairy lights are strung on the tower to create the world’s largest Christmas tree!