Don't expect to feel Old Town charm; neither should you expect to see historical buildings and wonderful architecture. Yet walking along Gediminio prospektas gives visitors the opportunity to taste the city's administrative and commercial centre and feel the pulse of the Lithuanian people away from touristic sights and attractions.
Before starting our long walk along Gediminio prospektas, walk a couple of metres south in the direction of the University complex to reach Daukanto aikste, the beautiful square partly occupied by the Presidential palace. This building whose current external architecture dates back to 1832 served several purposes, from headquarters of the Governor General of Vilnius to temporary residence for the French general and emperor Napoleon. You can take a guided tour to visit its interior furnished with fine Lithuanian and Russian classicist furniture.
Gediminio prospektas whose name for political reasons or otherwise was changed several times through the centuries is the wide avenue connecting Cathedral square with the Zverynas district and runs in a direction east-west for about 2kms crossing the Neris river at its westernmost end. On the right side of Gediminio prospektas, the first noteworthy building is the post office. Occupying the ground floor of a large building, it is always crowded with locals and besides the usual services, it houses a small yet excellent philatelic exhibition. The building which adjoins the post office at Gediminio prospektas 9 is occupied by the offices of the Vilnius Municipality which deals mostly with everyday city matters. Continue walking west until you reach the Vilnius County Governor's Administrative building on your left at Gediminio prospektas 14, where regional government policies are coordinated and implemented. Two government ministries, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Agriculture occupy big adjoining buildings at Gediminio prospektas 17 and 19 respectively.
Continue ahead further west past Hotel Neringa until on your right, you see a big square and park where you can relax and mix with the locals. Formerly called Lenin square but for political reasons changed to Lukiskiu aikste, it is mostly frequented by young mothers who bring their children here to play and by employees who come to relax after a day's work. The northeast side of the square along Vasario 16-Osios gatve is occupied by the Dominican Church of St.Jacob and St.Philip, a Baroque structure whose exterior architecture hasn't changed much since the 18th century. The adjoining monastery houses one of the oldest hospitals in Vilnius. The big building on Gediminio prospektas opposite Lukiskiu aikste is an unusual but interesting museum that reveals with remarkable clarity the Soviet atrocities during the period of Lithuanian resistance. Housed in a former KGB building and called 'The Museum of the Genocide Victims', it is an exhibition of prison cells and execution chambers combined with a live documentary by former political prisoners who narrate their personal experiences and sufferings under the Soviets. Entry to the museum is through Auku gatve 2A.
Continue further ahead for a further 100 metres until on your left you come across one of the best restaurants and coffee shops in town. Named 'Prie Parlamento' and located on Gediminio Prospektas 46, it is an upmarket restaurant which serves a great breakfast, vegetarian meals and delicious pastries worth trying. Not far away on the other side of the street, the elevated colonnaded building is the National Library. Next to it, a modern structure that houses the Parliament of Lithuania occupies the greater part of Independence square. Watch out for the adjacent reinforced concrete blocks which were used to construct defence barricades to stop Soviet tanks on the 13th January 1991. The names of the 14 victims who were killed during the onslaught near the television tower are written down on a memorial plaque.
Cross the bridge which marks the end of Gediminio prospektas and takes you over the heavily polluted Neris river. The striking church visible from the bridge and which you can visit is the Russian Orthodox Church of the Apparition, named after a miraculous icon from Kursk. After this long walk, relax in quiet surroundings away from attractions inside the pleasant Vingis parkas, located southwest of Parliament at Ciurlionio gatve. Vingis parkas is a big green area of paved pathways, benches and lawns where frequent concerts, theatrical performances and the annual Lithuanian Song Festival are held.