What is Lithuania Known For? 12 Things That Make Lithuania the Country it is
Are you interested in travelling to more European destinations but don’t really know that much about them or what they are famous for? Well, read on to find out. In this article we share what Lithuania is famous for, including bucket-list-worthy attracts and some other more peculiar fun facts!
What is Lithuania Known For?
Lithuania is known for Old Town Vilnius (a UNESCO World Heritage site), its Ancient Language, the people’s love of Basketball, traditional dishes such as Cepelinai and Reguolis, and for its Beer culture. Lithuania is also famous for amber jewelry, and for being known as ‘The Land of Nature’
1. Medieval Vilnius
The Old Town of Vilnius is a picturesque UNESCO World Heritage site that is also one of the largest surviving medieval towns in Northern Europe. The city features terracotta-roofed houses, pastel facades, church and castle spires and meandering cobblestone streets which make it wonderful to explore on foot.
Visitors can enter the city through the Gate of Dawn, a city gateway that was built in the 1500s as part of the capital’s fortifications, before moving on to Cathedral square, the Palace of the Grand Dukes, the National Museum and the Red Tower in the Upper Castle which offers excellent views of the city.
2. An Ancient Language
You might be surprised to learn that the Lithuanian language is one of the oldest in the world pre-dating many Latin-based languages that are used across the continent. In fact, Lithuanian has many links to Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-Aryan language, with many of the words in Lithuanian dating back to at least 3500 B.C. Lithuanian has remained relatively unchanged over the past millennia and citizens are thought to be very proud of their language.
Fun fact: the longest word in the Lithuanian dictionary is Nebeprisikiškiakopūsteliaujantiesiems which has a whopping 37 letters!
3. Lakes, Forests and National Parks
Lithuania is sometimes referred to as The Land of Nature, thanks to its vast array of stunning natural landscapes which include lakes, forests and National Parks, to name a few. Around one-third of the whole country is covered in rich forest, many of which are protected, and there are over 6000 lakes to explore!
Nature lovers could spend weeks or even months discovering the country’s landscapes and wildlife, with The Stelmuze Oak (the oldest oak tree in Europe), the Curonian lagoons, Aukštojas Hill and Trakai Historical National Park (the only historical national park in Europe) being particular favourites.
The five National Parks throughout Lithuania are also home to wildlife such as foxes, wolves, elk, deer, wild boar and numerous bird species (including the stork, the national bird of Lithuania).
4. The Curonian Spit
The Curonian Spit is a distinctive Lithuanian landmark that is a UNESCO site of Outstanding Universal Value and which is loved by both locals and tourists alike. This sand dune peninsula is a 98km stretch of land that dates back to prehistoric times and is rich in natural and cultural features. The sliver of land is often battered by the winds and waves of the Baltic Sea, so local inhabitants work hard to protect the sand dunes, forests and lagoons that make this region so unique.
5. Hill of Crosses
The legendary Hill of Crosses is one of Lithuania’s most intriguing sites and is a real must-see. This mound has been a pilgrimage destination for hundreds of years with pilgrims coming to the site to leave crosses of all shapes and sizes, as well as statues, carvings, effigies and rosaries.
Today, there are thought to be over 100,000 offerings left by people from all over the world.
The Hill of Crosses is located on the outskirts of the city of Šiauliai in northern Lithuania and can be reached by car, bus or bike from Šiauliai depending on the time you have available. Travellers can also take a full-day tour from Vilnius.
6. Pažaislis Monastery
The Pažaislis Monastery in Kaunas, Lithuania is both an active monastery and tourist attraction and is the largest monastery complex in the country. The site features a museum, the monastery itself and the Church of the Visitation.
The church is an example of stunning Italian baroque architecture and has elaborate murals and detailing inside which are well worth seeing! The church and monastery are a site of Catholic pilgrimage as well as being the location for the much-loved Pažaislis Music Festival.
Basketball is the number one sport in Lithuania, and if you speak to any locals about it, they’ll probably admit that it’s much more than just a game for them! The sport was brought to Lithuania by American-Lithuanian coaches during the late 1920s, and the national team went on to win European championships just a few years later.
There was, however, a huge blow to Lithuanian basketball during and after WWII, as the sport was stopped during the war and from 1940-1990 all Lithuanian players had to compete for the Soviet Union instead of their home nation. Since the country’s independence in 1990, though, Lithuania has competed in every Summer Olympics, and they have a strong system of basketball schools and teams across the country which help to promote the sport.
8. Traditional Lithuanian Dishes
While the world might not know the names of many traditional Lithuanian dishes, the locals are certainly proud of their cuisine, and they’ll do their best to make sure you know them well before you depart!
Arguably the most famous Lithuanian dish is Cepelinai – named after zeppelin airships due to their shape – which are potato dumplings stuffed with pork and bacon bits and covered in sour cream. Other favourites include beetroot soup either warm (Burokėlių Sriuba) or cold (Borscht/Saltibarsciai), Balandėliai Lithuanian stuffed cabbage, Raguolis a celebration cake and Grybukai little mushroom-shaped cookies.
9. Great Beer
Of course, with any good meal you also need a quality beverage, and thankfully for us, Lithuania produces some delicious beers that pair perfectly with their tasty delicacies.
Beer has been brewed for Baltic rituals and festivals for centuries, and in Lithuanian folklore, they even have Ragutis or Rūgutis, god for brewing beer and mead! The country is proud to have produced World Beer Championship-winning brews with some of their most well-known brands being Ekstra, Baltijos, Švyturys and Utenos.
It is well known that the best amber in the world comes from the Baltic Sea region and as such, Lithuania and its neighbouring countries Latvia and Poland, are some of the best destinations in which to pick up pieces of amber jewellery or handicrafts.
It is even possible to find small pieces of amber washed up on the beach in Lithuania (although this is quite rare) so it’s worth keeping your eye out for these glistening pieces of fossilised tree resin if you’re out exploring the Lithuanian coastline!
11. Mega Fast Internet
As with many of the Baltic countries, Lithuania has some of the fastest internet in the world, which is pretty much available everywhere for free. This means that both citizens and tourists have easy access to WiFi, making their lives hassle-free and convenient.
Fantastic internet also makes Lithuania a hotspot for start-ups with brands such as Bored Panda, Bankera, Vinted and CGTrader all having been created in this small European country.
12. National Scent
Last but by no means least is the fact that Lithuania is the only country in the world with its own official perfume called the “Scent of Lithuania”. This national scent was created in 2010 with an aroma of local wildflowers, ginger, raspberry, sandalwood and musk. In addition to the classic “Scent of Lithuania,” there are two more perfumes in the collection called “Barbora” and “The Kingdom”. If that’s not unique, then I don’t know what is!
Hopefully by now, you know much more about Lithuania than you did about 10 minutes ago! Let us know your favourite fun fact about Lithuania in the comments below and tell us if you think you’ll be adding it to your bucket list.
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