Clockwise from top right: Gediminas' Tower, Vilnius business district, Presidential Palace, Pilies Street, Gate of Dawn, Vilnius Cathedral and its bell tower
Jerusalem of Lithuania,[1] Rome of the North,[2] Athens of the North,[3] New Babylon,[4] The city/capital of Palemon[5]
Unitas, Justitia, Spes
(Latin: Unity, Justice, Hope)
Interactive map of Vilnius
Vilnius is located in Lithuania
Location within Lithuania
Vilnius is located in Baltic states
Location within the Baltics
Vilnius is located in Europe
Location within Europe
Coordinates: 54°41′N 25°17′E / 54.683°N 25.283°E / 54.683; 25.283Coordinates: 54°41′N 25°17′E / 54.683°N 25.283°E / 54.683; 25.283
CountyVilnius County
MunicipalityVilnius City Municipality
Capital ofLithuania
First mentioned1323
Granted city rights1387
 • TypeCity council
 • MayorRemigijus Šimašius
 • Capital city401 km2 (155 sq mi)
 • Metro
9,731 km2 (3,757 sq mi)
112 m (367 ft)
 • Capital city589,425
 • Rank(31st in EU)
 • Density1,392/km2 (3,610/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Metro
 • Metro density83/km2 (210/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
Area code(s)(+370) 5
GMP (nominal)[9]2019
 – Total€20.7 billion
 – Per capita€25,400
City budget€740 million[10]
HDI (2018)0.907[11]very high
Official nameHistoric Centre of Vilnius
Criteriaii, iv
Designated1994 (18th session)
Reference no.[1]
UNESCO regionEurope

Vilnius (Lithuanian pronunciation: [ˈvʲɪlʲnʲʊs] (About this soundlisten), see also other names) is the capital of Lithuania and its largest city, with a population of 589,425 as of 2019.[8] The population of Vilnius's functional urban area, which stretches beyond the city limits, is estimated at 706,832 (as of 2019),[7] while according to the Vilnius territorial health insurance fund, there were 732,421 permanent inhabitants as of October 2020 in Vilnius city and Vilnius district municipalities combined.[12] Vilnius is in southeastern Lithuania and is the second-largest city in the Baltic states. It is the seat of Lithuania's national government and the Vilnius District Municipality.

Vilnius is classified as a Gamma global city according to GaWC studies,[13] and is known for the architecture in its Old Town, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.[14] Before World War II, Vilnius was one of the largest Jewish centres in Europe. Its Jewish influence has led to its nickname "the Jerusalem of Lithuania". Napoleon called it "the Jerusalem of the North"[15] as he was passing through in 1812. In 2009, Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture, together with Linz, Austria.[16] In 2021 Vilnius was named among top-25 fDi's Global Cities of the Future – one of the most forward-thinking cities with the greatest potential in the World.[17]

Etymology and other names[edit]

The name of the city originates from the Vilnia River, from the Lithuanian for ripple.[18] The city has also had many derivative spellings in various languages throughout its history: Vilna was once common in English. The most notable non-Lithuanian names for the city include Polish: Wilno, Belarusian: Вiльня (Vilnya), German: Wilna, Latvian: Viļņa, Ukrainian: Вільно (Vilno), Yiddish: ווילנע‎ (Vilne). A Russian name from the time of the Russian Empire was Вильна (Vilna),[19][20] although Вильнюс (Vilnyus) is now used. The names Wilno, Wilna and Vilna were also used in older English, German, French and Italian language publications when the city was one of the capitals of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and an important city in the Second Polish Republic. The name Vilna is still used in Finnish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Hebrew. Wilna is still used in German, along with Vilnius.

The neighborhoods of Vilnius also have names in other languages, which represent the languages spoken by various ethnic groups in the area.

According to legend, Grand Duke Gediminas (c. 1275–1341) was hunting in the sacred forest near the Valley of Šventaragis, near where Vilnia River flows into the Neris River. Tired after the successful hunt of a wisent, the Grand Duke settled in for the night. He fell soundly asleep and dreamed of a huge Iron Wolf standing on top a hill and howling as strong and loud as a hundred wolves. Upon awakening, the Duke asked the krivis (pagan priest) Lizdeika to interpret the dream. The priest told him, "What is destined for the ruler and the State of Lithuania, is thus: the Iron Wolf represents a castle and a city which will be established by you on this site. This city will be the capital of the Lithuanian lands and the dwelling of their rulers, and the glory of their deeds shall echo throughout the world." Therefore, Gediminas, obeying the will of the gods, built the city, and gave it the name Vilnius, from the Vilnia River.[21]