#Rich pages of urban history
Vilnius, steeped in Catholicism, is proud of its churches, which are considered by many to be the most beautiful in the world (especially by Napoleon). Several museums and monuments retrace the struggles against Soviet occupation and for sovereignty. Finally, Kaliningrad, home of the philosopher Kant, offers visitors its 750 years of history, which can be read in many museums and churches.
The coasts of the Baltic Sea :
The charm of Klaip?da, the Baltic port which does not freeze in winter, the traditional craftsmanship and gastronomy, the wild beauty of the dunes of the Curonian Lagoon, the local know-how in thalassotherapy: the superb thermal and seaside resorts... All these reasons encourage visitors to explore the fine sandy beaches of the Baltic Sea, while scanning the wet sand in the hope of seeing amber. It should be noted that in summer the water temperature can exceed 20°C and that you can therefore swim in it!
A preserved nature
The country's biodiversity is phenomenal because it enjoys a pure environment. Good environmental quality of the air, water and soil, and the existence of areas prohibited to human activity - either by strategic decision of the Soviet era or because of the difficulty of cultivating certain lands - all contribute to the fact that the region is the last conservatory of many animal and plant species. But the essential factor in this matter is the inhabitants of the region who, despite the prevailing economic pressure, maintain their love and respect for nature, in line with a paganism that is still very much alive.
Proximity and diversity
With an area of 65,300 km², almost equivalent to that of Ireland, and a population of less than 4 million, Lithuania is a small country. Therefore, everything is close: the slightest trip requires no more than half a day, the longest being Vilnius-Klaip?da, from east to west of the country, for a maximum of 5 hours of travel. Most sites are less than 2 hours away from each other. A traveller who is thirsty for discovery will be able to travel easily every day, to collect as many memories as possible. This proximity does not prevent a great diversity of landscapes (from the dunes of Nida to the many lakes of Auktaitija, including the Baroque Vilnius), ethnic groups, languages and dialects, or even customs.
A living museum of pre-Christian and medieval Europe
Evangelized (willingly or forcibly) late and superficially, Lithuanians resisted Christianization in their own way. Passive resistance, integration of Christian myths into the fundamental Indo-European belief to the point of syncretism, diversion of cult modalities, all means were good to preserve their pre-Christian heritage to this day.This makes it possible today to discover traditions, customs and forms of worship which, although they may seem strange, are not really foreign: they have the same Indo-European roots as those that existed in Western Europe before its evangelisation.By attacking above all the Christian religion and blocking the majority of archaeological attempts likely to reveal a past other than that of the Soviet homo, the Soviet cope had the unexpected effect of having preserved a cultural and historical fund that had not been over-exploited or distorted.
An excellent quality of life
It is mainly due to the many cultural activities and events organized in major cities. But also to the fact that nature has a privileged place in the hearts of Lithuanians, who have allowed it to flourish even in the centre of their cities: the capital is full of parks and greenery; it is also bordered by the forest. In addition, the Lithuanian people are known for their taste for calm and slowness; walking in the centre of Vilnius, you do not feel the stress of a metropolis. The same applies to daily security: a young woman can walk through Vilnius in the middle of the night without any particular risk. The slightest incident is commented on at length, precisely because of its rarity, on the front page of the daily newspapers.
It is possible in English, Russian or German. The small size of the country encourages rapid adaptation and change, citizens learn foreign languages with ease, enthusiastically practice the language of the masters of the world (today, a large majority of people speak English), do not neglect those of their powerful neighbours Germany and Russia, and abandon without hesitation the language of Molière which was once the first in Lithuania. However, European integration has given new strength to the teaching of Latin languages (French, Italian and Spanish) and the natural ease of Lithuanians for languages does the rest. Try to speak French in trendy cafés that employ young students, and you may well have a pleasant surprise.
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette