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A relaxing weekend in the city. Walking through Bernardine Gardens

For the majority of workers employed in any European capital, the thought of spend a relaxing weekend in the city seems almost a paradox. The search for distant destinations from ours weekly routine and everyday life, lead us to commit time and energy in an activity sometimes even more stressful. If the choice of the place where to go generates long discussions with our partner, if the hours of weekend traffic seem a waking nightmare simply look yourselves around.

In Vilnius, for example there is a place that despite being located in the city centre, in the valley created by the Vilnia’s river exactly in the point of intersection between the bastion of Gediminas Hill and the monastery of the Benedictine monks, retains the character of a peace oasis in town.

This park owes its creation to Great Duke Kazimieras that during the second half of 1500 invited a community of Benedictine monks in the city. Given the ability to reclamation of the monks, who made this marshy and unhealthy part of the city in cultivated and beautiful green gardens. During the eighteenth century the University of Vilnius decided to build on a piece of this prolific land its Botanic Garden. Finally, during the XIX century architect Vladislovas Štrausas joined the green spaces in a single large park giving it the appearance that we enjoy today. Beautiful fountains were installed and re-created artificial ponds, large pavilions, observation belvedere, terraces, stage and spaces for children were inserted inside.

In those days, the beautiful park in which were kept exotic plants and trunks typical secular and in which the care and patience of professional gardeners allow the presence of rare flowers and prized, was closed and left as a personal garden of the Governor General and the local aristocracy.

Just at the end of World War II, when the garden returned to public use, were included tennis courts and spaces for outdoor sports. However, especially during the latest years of the socialist regime, the park was left to decay and inertia until when in 2012 the mayor of Vilnius decided to allocate a series of funds for its redevelopment. In October 2013, the restoration and reclamation came to an end and the new area was inaugurated. Appeared clear at first sight that it had become one of the most beautiful spaces in which enjoy some quiet in the city.

The lush garden has been created with the contribution in primis of the Dutch embassy, which gave 80,000 flower bulbs, and other NGOs scattered over the whole country and beyond. The garden is also home for a botanical exposition, which features plants sorted by groups and classes, will be a very special part of the park. In that area teacher of botanic and natural science can bring their students or make workshop for any kind of audience. Visitors will be able to see the ginko tree, the yellow dogwood, Canadian fir, black pine, and three of the oldest oak trees in Vilnius.

Nonetheless, what is striking is certainly the method of maintenance of this space. The mayor has declared that the preservation is up to the entire citizenry. This makes possible not only to save a portion of the public finances devoted to routine maintenance and its reinvestment in cultural and educational projects but also to strengthen the link between citizens and this space that actually belongs them.

This magnificent green jewel in the heart of Vilnius allow you to take long walks in the green of a landscape that brings us back to the glories of the belle epoque times, when you are tired you can stop in the beautiful terraces where it is not allowed to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Rows of chess tables are placed at the edges of the river and a large children’s playground make happier the atmosphere.

Park is open daily from 7.00 am to 22.00, what are you waiting for?

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