A prestigious Vilnius University with its charming history

Monika Grinevičiūtė | Live the World

November 23, 2022

I believe that every single old house or building is something more than just walls, wood, and bricks. With every new resident, through the years, stories and legends are born. In Vilnius, there are plenty of old, abandoned or still vivid places, which are keeping their own secrets. One of the most interesting building, full of own secrets and legends, in Lithuanian capital city, is Vilnius University - the best-ranked university in the country with a charming history. For sure, Vilnius University is different from other universities in Lithuania and in all Baltics. This university is the oldest university in Baltic states and one of the oldest in whole Northern Europe. Counting the years from the early 16th century, this university not only raised hundreds of famous people but also surrounded itself with deep traditions and charming history. Every single tour in Vilnius cross this prestigious university, so let’s take an eye, why they.

Picture © Credits to iStock/RossHelen

When everything started

Vilnius University is the place where you can hear loud talks of the Jesuit students while sitting in one of the university’s yards. Where you can feel the greatness of science while sitting in one of the university auditoriums. Or even you can feel yourself being a part of the old historical movie while reading in the university’s library. Academia et Universitas Vilnensis Societatis Jesu - with this name the great history of the greatest university in Lithuania begins. In 1579, the Jesuit college with the order of King Stephen Bathory and consent of Pope Gregory XIII was transformed into higher education school. From that time Vilnius University together with the greatest European professors raised millions of students, survived wars and crises. During the times of Russian Empire, the university was closed (as well as during Nazis invasion), when the Vilnius and its region was annexed by Poland it was reopened again. During that time, among other students was the future Nobel prizewinner, Czeslaw Milosz. During the Soviet occupation, the university was reorganized by the Soviet model. Two years before the official Lithuanian independence from Soviets, university frees itself from Soviet ideology and adopted its own statute.

Picture © Credits to iStock/RomanBabakin

Hogwarts in Vilnius

Like every older Baroque or Gothic architecture building, the main Vilnius University camp looks like from J.K. Rowling books about Harry Potter. Especially the library, it really looks like Hogwarts witchcraft school. Nowadays there are more university’s buildings located in the various parts of the city, but the old university’s camp, build up from the brick houses, is located in the very heart of Vilnius Old Town. Bounded by four streets - Universiteto, Pilies, Skapo, Šv. Jono, university’s buildings architecture reflects the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism styles. The university architectural ensemble is composed of 13 buildings with 13 courtyards, the Church of St. John and a belfry.

Picture © Credits to iStock/RomanBabakin

Cat Vincas and something more interesting

Let’s turn to the more interesting part - legends and stories. One of the interesting things about Vilnius University is that in the main camp, cat Vincas is living. Yes, a cat. With different eye colors - green and blue, this cat is always there and, as it can be really strange for a cat, he lets to cuddle him as much as you want. And of course, this cat is really loved among all students. Also, there is one fact, that in one of the camp’s courtyards, during the years, all the time birch were planted to grow there, but all the time the lighting and thunder destroy the trees. Just some time ago, the new birch was planted and nobody knows how long it will take till the next storm. Also, among student the story is spread about the university’s canteen- students are saying that a long time ago in the room where now canteen is working there was a morgue. And till now, everyone calls this place not a “canteen” but a morgue. So, basically, while visiting the university, you can stop by and have some lunch at a morgue. Could be an interesting experience, huh?

Picture © Credits to iStock/RomanBabakin

Magnificent architecture, eye-catching buildings with mysterious courtyards and charming history - this makes to stop by Vilnius University. Undoubtedly it is a place worth for visit, exploring or just sitting on a bench in one of the university’s courtyards. Explore this prestigious and charming university in Vilnius city and take the part of its aura with you.

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