Vilnius is the capital and largest city of Lithuania. It lies in the valley of the confluence of Neris and Vilnia rivers and has 527,930 inhabitants (2013 statistics). Along with Linz, Austria, Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture in 2009.
The word Vilnius is a masculine form of the Vilnia river's name (which is feminine) and refers to the river surge. Therefore, the spelling in other languages (Vilna, Wilna, Vilno, Wilno) are the same word adapted to the corresponding grammar. The area has been inhabited since the Mesolithic era, but it only became a capital city in 1323 when Grand Duke Gediminas transferred the Seat from Trakai to Vilnius. A monument to Gediminas (author of the concept is a Lithuanian-American sculptor Vytautas Kašuba) stands in Cathedral Square near the site of the former pagan temple. The Grand Duke is depicted at the monument when he made a final decision, dismounted from his horse and blessed the land which essentially became the capital. It's known that its glory would echo like an iron-wolf-like sound throughout the world. The howling Iron Wolf from the Grand Duke's prophetic dream is depicted below. You can find these two key names, Gediminas and the Iron Wolf (Geležinis vilkas), along with the motif of the howling iron wolf quite often everywhere in Vilnius. They are branched into the forms of daily life so they are often overlooked, unless you're purposely looking for them.