My recent father-daughter adventure to Finland and the Baltics made me realize… #IHaveThisThingWithAlleys. The Old Towns of Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius are filled with them, and they all seem to have some sort of interesting historical significance. Best of all, you have to do a little searching to find them, which can sometimes lead you off the beaten path. I pretty much did an entire “Vilnius alley day,” determined to find these photographic little gems. I’d become obsessed. But, in flipping through my older travel photography, it became clear the obsession was always there, lurking. Today, read all about my favorite Baltics alleys, and see which other European alleys snuck into my camera over the years in a follow-up post.
The Narrowest Street In Vilnius
To the best of my recollection, this is where it all began—with the narrowest street in Vilnius, Lithuania. I had to find it. And it wasn’t easy. It’s about three feet wide, has no name, dates back to the Middle Ages, and is tucked in a courtyard off what most of us would consider a real street. Should you ever actually visit the amazingness that is Vilnius, you’ll find this fun little photo opp off Savičiaus Street in the courtyard by the Čiurlionis Memorial Museum.
The “Republic” of Užupis Information Center Alley
Užupis is a self-proclaimed independent republic found on the far side of the Vilnia River in Vilnius. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and, during the Soviet Era, was one of its roughest. It’s now a quirky bohemian arts district, complete with its own constitution and mermaid mascot. You’ll find this beautifully graffiti’ed side street on your way to the Tourist Information Center, where you can you get your Užupis visa and passport stamped. Outside, you’ll be greeted by a feline furbie whose presence is so well-known, he’s an actual landmark on the Užupis area map. (Click to view the evidence up close!)
Saint Catherine’s Passageway in Tallinn
Hidden between Vene and Müürivahe Streets, just near the knit market, is Saint Catherine’s Passageway in Old Town Tallinn. The alley sits with a Dominican Monastery dating back to 1246 and ancient tombstones can be found in some of the walls. The cobbled street is lined with overhead vaulting and colorful wooden doors, making for the perfect camera-ready shot. Enjoy a stroll past the artisan workshops towards one end while you’re there.
Jono Meko Skersvėjis, AKA Jonas Mekas Draft
Also in Vilnius’ Užupis neighborhood is the Jonas Mekas Draft alleyway. You’ll find this guy at Užupio Gatvė 24 connecting Užupis’ main drag with the Vilnius River. It currently looks like it’s up for a massive facelift and has portions of the walkway blocked off for upcoming cafes, restaurants, what have you, but in the meantime, take a walk down it and you’ll find interesting artworks plastered the length of it. Enjoy while snap, snap, snapping away!
Riga’s Rozena Iela
Rozena Street in Riga, Latvia sits just by the Dome Cathedral in Old Town. Find ethereal starry lights dangling at one end of the alleyway and medieval-style flags overhead at the opposite end. Sit with a cup of coffee at a local cafe and admire the impressive mural splayed above. Another picture perfect Baltic alley!
Vilnius’ Bernardinų Gatve
Bernardinų Gatve in Vilnius’ Old Town turned out to be right around the corner from our hotel and is the featured image for this post (seen above… and below). Another ancient alleyway tucked away in a maze of old streets, this one boasts a little repainting in fun colors and a small art installation for your Instagram enjoyment. Get a tattoo while you’re there or stop at the restaurant found in the corner nook.
Saiakang Alley in Old Town Tallinn
Find the charming Saiakang Alley by Tallinn’s Town Hall Square. The medieval passageway is lined with workshops and cafes and makes for a nice little break after touring the main square. The quaint, brightly-colored buildings are just what you need to liven up your feed!
If you happen to suffer from the same alley addiction that I do, you’ll love these delightful little Baltic gems. And, if you don’t and decide to visit these gorgeous Insta-opps anyway, you’ll 100% find that you had an alley addiction just waiting to come out. Don’t worry—you’re in good company with Global Debauchery.
Today’s featured photo: Bernardinų Gatve in Vilnius’ Old Town.
© 2019 Jordan Campbell. All rights reserved.