Cultural Capitals of Europe

in City Guides, Country Guides, Travel Tips

Lithuania's Russian Orthodox church of St. Michael and St. Constantine

Lithuania's Russian Orthodox church of St. Michael and St. Constantine. Photo: kimbar

The European continent boasts of some of richest destinations in terms of culture. Every year since 1985, two cities are chosen to hold the distinction of being Europe’s cultural capitals. This year, the cities are Linz in Austria and Vilnius in Lithuania. Truth be told, both of these cities are not always part of the traditional tourist’s itinerary. So what made them worthy of being dubbed this year’s cultural capitals?

Linz is located along the banks of the Danube, to the west of its more popular relation, Vienna. Linz is a medium-sized city – small enough to be postcard perfect and yet large enough to hold a veritable treasure trove of cultural traditions that go back to the Middle Ages. Today, the biggest cultural attraction that Linz has to offer is its passion for electronic media.

A visit to Linz has to involve spending time along the Cultural Mile, which is a stretch dedicated to institutions such as the Brucknerhaus concert hall and the new Ars Electronica Center. If you want to get away from the hectic pace of your world, you might want to try out the Hermit in the Tower program which allows volunteers to live as hermits for a week at a time this year. Volunteers have to take a vow of silence and stay in the steeple of  St. Mary’s church. Cell phones and computers are not allowed.

The other cultural capital this year is Vilnius, which has been the political capital of Lithuania since 1323! A city this old certainly has tons to offer its visitors. In fact, Old Town, the original area of the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are more than 20 Eastern Baroque churches existing in Old Town – more than enough reason to drop by, don’t you think?

This year, cultural events are scheduled to take place continuously in both cities. The idea is to showcase what they both have to offer. For sure, if you plan on going to either Linz or Vilnius (or both!), you will not lack for things to do and places to see.

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I think the Orthodox Church of St. Michael and St. Constantine is the most beautiful Orthodox Church in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Unfortunately, not many people visit this beautiful church.
Address: 27 J. Basanaviciaus gatve, Vilnius, Lithuania
Bus: M.K. Ciurlionio gatve (street)

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