Lithuania // Vilnius //

Town Hall Square and around

West of Užupis, Pilies gatvė becomes Didžioji gatvė as it heads south, with the restored Baroque palace at no. 4 housing the Vilnius Picture Gallery (Vilniaus Paveikslų Galerija), with a marvellous collection of sixteenth- to nineteenth-century paintings and sculptures from around the country. The colonnaded Neoclassical building at the end of Town Hall Square (Rotušės aikštė) is the Town Hall itself. The Contemporary Art Centre (Suolaikinio meno centras or SMC) lies behind it, hosting modern art exhibitions with interactive elements and a good café. East of the square is the striking St Casimir’s Church (Šv. Kazimiero Bažnyčia), the oldest Baroque church in the city, dating from 1604, and possessing a beautiful interior including a marble altarpiece. South of here, Didžioji becomes Aušros Vartų gatvė, leading to the Gate of Dawn (Aušros Vartų), the sole survivor of the nine city gates. A chapel above the gate houses the image of the Madonna of the Gates of Dawn, said to have miraculous powers and revered by Polish Catholics; open-air Mass is held on Sundays.