One of the oldest universities in Central Europe, Vilnius University was founded in the 16th century while Europe – and of course Lithuania – was in the grips of the Protestant Reformation movement. Catholic monks, Jesuits, were called to stop the spread of the movement and were asked to take over education policy. In 1569 they established a college and just 10 years later, the University of Vilnius was born.
Afterwards, the campuses of VU were built and as a result, all feature Gothic, Baroque and Classical styles of architecture, and the main building’s medieval exterior is a stark contrast to its lively student atmosphere.
There are 13 internal courtyards, plus arcades and galleries, which give even more vibrancy to things. Moreover, the courtyards are named after famous figures – graduates and professors – from the university and they are commemorated on a number of plaques in the Grand Courtyard.
The oldest building of the campus is home to three faculties – history, philology and philosophy – and the main Library, which was built in 1570. It contains one of e two existing copies of the first ever book printed in Lithuania, The Simple Words of Catchecism, which was written by Martynas Mažvydas in 1547.
In 2016, Vilnius University has 12 faculties and around 23,000 students.
Admission to the architectural ensemble (courtyards, the Church): Adult 1,5 EUR, schoolchild and student 0,5 EUR.
Open: March–October: Mon to Fri 9:00–18:00, November–April: Mon to Sat 9:30–17:30.
Those who wish to become acquainted with the ensemble of Vilnius University and the Library are offered guided tours in the Lithuanian, English, Russian and Polish languages every workday from 9:00 to 15:00 (on Fridays until 14:00). One only has to fill in an electronic tour booking form www.biblioteka.vu.lt/en/services/guided-tours or contact the Communications and Information Division of the Library tel. +370 5 268 7103. Adult 8 EUR, schoolchild and student 2 EUR (group min 4 people).
More information about the ensemble of Vilnius University buildings and historical halls of the Library is available on www.eparodos.mb.vu.lt/kiemeliai/
The exclusive panoramic view of Vilnius can be admired from the highest building in the Old Town – the campanile of St. John’s Church. Having climbed 193 authentic wooden stairs, the view of the Old Town and spanless distances of Vilnius can be admired as if from the bird’s eye view. A modern lift is installed in the historical campanile for visitors to access the overlook site in the height of 45 m.
Visitors are usually fascinated by Foucault’s Pendulum demonstrating the effect of rotation of the Earth. The socket of pendulum entrenchment is installed on the second floor of campanile tower. From a special platform, it is possible to watch how the pendulum swings and how a ball of weight of some tens of kilograms hung on a thin cable moves around over a marble dial base. During the day, the swinging ball changes its position and imitates the rotation of the Earth.
The entrance to overlook site costs 3 EUR. Those wishing to visit only the campanile can access the place from St. John’s Street or through the Grand Courtyard. Those wishing to visit the yards of the architectural ensemble of Vilnius University, will be able to see them for an additional price of 1,5 EUR. You are invited to visit the campanile From May to September, from Monday to Sunday between 10.00 and 18.30.