Napoleon Bonaparte, who stayed in Vilnius briefly during his ill-fated campaign against Russia in 1812, is said to have been so impressed by St Anne’s Church (Šv. Onos Bažnyčia), on Maironio gatvė, that he wanted to take it back to Paris on the palm of his hand. Studded with skeletal, finger-like towers, its facade overlaid with intricate brick traceries and fluting, this late sixteenth-century structure is the finest Gothic building in the capital. Just south of St Anne’s a bridge over the River Vilnia forms the border of the self-declared independent republic of Užupis, home to a flourishing population of artists, bohemians and yuppies (note the locks on the bridge: lovers fasten them here and then throw the key in the river to symbolize their union). Stroll up from Užupio Café across the bridge to see the psychedelic art gallery with weird and wonderful creations suspended above the river. Some of the buildings here are in dire need of repair, but there is a trendy feel to the area.

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