The Baltic Stories: The Miraculous Vilnius
In this post I want to tell you about Stebuklas. There is a tile in the pavement of the Cathedral Square (which is quite big) and the idea is that your wish will come true if you turn around clockwise three times, jump up and clap your hands, all while standing on the tile. Obviously I wanted to try this, when in Rome… Or, ahem, Vilnius.
But what I really wanted to know was why it was known as the “miracle” tile. I couldn’t find a nearby sign or the answer in any leaflets I picked up. Seeing as it was by the cathedral I thought it was probably an apparition of the Virgin Mary or something to that effect. Anyway, I was about to hop, skip and a jump to grant my wish when suddenly there was a voice behind us. There was a man, who, quite honestly, looked homeless. I realized we must have looked like the ultimate tourists at this point in time and were about to be haggled for all we had. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
He began by asking us, in broken but comprehensible English, our names and where we were from. He then told us his name and that he was a proud Lithuanian from Vilnius. He asked to see our guide book and when he saw we didn’t have one he told us which shops sold the best ones and the prices of them, and then he decided that instead of us doing that, he should just tell us the best places to see here and the heart wrenching history of the Miracle Tile.
In 1989 approximately two million people formed a human chain to show their protest against the Soviet occupation. These people held hands and stretched 600km across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (the Baltic States). The Stebuklas Tile marks the point where the last person in at the end of the chain stood.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the exact location of this Tile, and neither will the majority of the locals (including information boards or tourist offices) due to superstition. However, I can tell you that it is located somewhere between the bell tower and the Cathedral’s entrance. Once it’s not raining, it makes for a fun game!
When people think of Lithuania, they think of poverty and Russian control. But today, Lithuania has its own character, its own style, and its own stories – which nobody can take from them.