ounded in 1579 during the Catholic Counter-Reformation, Vilnius University was run by Jesuits for two centuries. During the 19th century, it became one of Europe’s greatest centers of learning, and the university survived shut down by Tsar Nicholas I, rebranding under Soviet rule and closure by the Nazis. Its spectacular architectural ensemble includes a 64m bell tower, baroque church, courtyard and fresco-laden hall, all of which are open to visitors. Today it has more than 20,000 students and Lithuania’s oldest library, shelving five million books (including one of two originals of The Catechism by Martynas Mažvydas, the first book ever published in Lithuanian). Don’t miss the Grand Courtyard with its melange of Baroque, Classical and neoclassical architecture.